Mainstay Kitchen cooking in local parking lot

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By Rachel Madison

The Main Street Social food hall isn’t opening for a few more months, but that didn’t stop Jason and Amber Dodge from opening Mainstay Kitchen right outside the hall in a food truck.

“The food truck idea is very new for us, but the idea came about this summer,” Amber Dodge said. “We had been in talks to open Mainstay Kitchen in the food hall, and we were just eager to get started. The idea came up to open a food truck so we could get started before the Main Street Social building is finished.”

The Dodges opened their food truck in September and have enjoyed getting acclimated to the area and getting to know the Liberty Hill community.

“The opening of Main Street Social is still a few months out, but we will move inside once it’s open,” Jason Dodge said. “We aren’t sure yet what we’ll do with the food truck after we move inside. If we find someone who is dedicated and wanting to run a food truck, we might put it somewhere, or we might just use it for catering. We aren’t sure right now, but we’re up for anything.”

The Dodges have a background in hospitality and cooking. Amber Dodge has worked in hospitality in hotels for nearly 20 years, most recently for the Four Seasons in Austin. Jason Dodge began his chef career working for Four Seasons as well, but has spent the last several years working with some of Austin’s best restaurants, like Vespaio Trattoria, Enoteca Vespaio and Péché. Most recently, Jason Dodge was a fire tender at Franklin’s Barbecue, where he learned to smoke briskets under the tutelage of Aaron Franklin. Once the Dodges decided to open Mainstay Kitchen, they went all in.

“This is what we’re doing full time now,” Jason Dodge said. “We dove right in when the opportunity came up. Both of us were in a place where we were ready for the next step and to do something different. We were ready to do something on our own, and with our experience, it seemed like a natural fit.”

The food truck has a grill and smoker on the outside, and inside, it’s “fully loaded,” with a stove, oven, fryer, cooler and more, Jason Dodge said. Mainstay Kitchen’s menu reflects the utilization of all the different types of equipment, he added.

Amber Dodge said the menu focuses on American staples, like Frito pie, pimento cheese sandwiches and sausage wraps.

“That will be a big part of what’s inside once we move in as well,” she added. “We are really keeping with staple items like sandwiches, salads and wraps.”

Though they’ve only been open for a short time, Amber Dodge said customers are already finding favorite meals, like the 10-inch sausage wrap and Italian sandwich.

“We are also doing specials every day, and on Friday and Saturday nights, I fire up the grill and do a grill special,” Jason Dodge said.

Last week’s special was pork tenderloin with grits and Brussel sprouts, for $15 a plate. Most menu items range from $5 to $10. Customers can take their food to go, or they are welcome to stay and eat at the half a dozen picnic tables located next to the food truck, Jason Dodge added.

“We have picnic tables and lights in the trees, and we play music,” he said. “It gives people a chance to hang out and see the place come together.”

Once the Dodges move inside the food hall, they plan to move into a lot of grab-and-go type meals, in addition to what they’re already cooking up. They will also be opening the pizza food stall, called Cosmic Pizza, inside Main Street Social.

“We had an opportunity to bring something great to the community, and we are excited to provide good food in a good environment where people can get together to have a good time and enjoy themselves with friends and family,” Amber Dodge said. “We’ve had great feedback from people coming by. People are excited we’re here, and they like seeing the building coming along and getting the chance to meet us and for us to meet them before we move in.”

Mainstay Kitchen, located in the Main Street Social parking lot at 1651 Loop 332, is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information or to order online, visit www.mainstaykitchen.com.

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