Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's food truck serving comfort food during COVID-19

It's not uncommon to see a long lineup of hungry people at Johnny & Mae's food truck in the St. Thomas Church parking lot in St. John's.

Johnny & Mae's moves online, offers drive-thru

The 'Junk In Your Trunk' combo features a jalapeno Dorito burger with bacon, pictured, a chicken caesar sandwich, home cut fries for two, large gravy and two tins of drink. (Johnny & Mae's Facebook)

It's not uncommon to see a long lineup of hungry people at Johnny & Mae's food truck in the St. Thomas church parking lot in St. John's. Unlike last year, though, the lineup is all cars and trucks filled with people eagerly awaiting contactless pickup.

Best known for their massive burgers, the food truck owners had to flip their entire business model when COVID-19 reached Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We are learning every day that we've been open so far and we are also adjusting to it," co-owner Alicia McKenna said.

A long line of cars and trucks snake around the trailer to get their orders. (Johnny and Mae's/Submitted)

"Since we opened two weeks ago, our flow has gotten a lot smoother."

It's the second season for the McKenna's popular mobile eatery. For a while it didn't look like it would open at all.

"We didn't think we would get to do it this year with COVID-19 happening," she said. "I feel like it's bringing normalcy back to our lives. This is what we love to do."

But the summer will look different at Johnny & Mae's.

The picnic tables are gone and now the parking lot is full of neon pylons and brightly dressed parking lot attendants directing traffic. 

The passion for their product remains unchanged. 

"The response has been excellent," co-owner Kyle McKenna said. "People are very happy. Comfort food always makes people happy."

Johnny & Mae's owners Alicia and Kyle McKenna stand in front of their St. John's-based food truck. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Ed Hartling agrees.

He was one of the hundreds of cars stopping by to get his burgers, fries and gravy on Saturday.

"It just feels normal to be out," he said. "It's a good way to start summer"

The days of people popping their heads into the window to order are gone.

The McKennas had to set up a website and, at the moment, are offering up one combo — which they call the "Junk in Your Trunk."

Ed Hartling gets his combo from Johnny & Mae's staffer Jen Mercer. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The staff in the truck are making 250 burgers a day, four days a week, and people seem to enjoy unwrapping the brown paper bags.

"Our parking lot staff says it's been it's like Christmas," Alicia said.

"People are so excited that we are back and serving food. It's nice to know that people missed us as much as we missed them when we were closed."

Right now the food truck is open Thursday to Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. The McKennas hope to expand the menu and hours as the weather warms up.

The duo invested in a new food truck this year, but it's in storage in Ontario for now.

In the meantime, staff enjoy serving up a taste of normal life in world that is anything but. 

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