Thursday afternoon, Caroline Perini is vacuum-sealing raw bacon.
Air-tight packs of bacon are not a typical part of Easy Slider’s operations — she’d spend the average Thursday midday in her brick-and-mortar spot cycling down from the lunch rush and worrying about the beer cooler holding its icy temperatures.
That was, deep sigh, the good old days in Deep Ellum. Last week, Perini has expanded her menu like she’s running a bodega — the Greenville Avenue Easy Slider truck now offers liquid soap, bleach and vinyl gloves. Eggs, butter and sliced bread are available for folks who have botched their sourdough starter.
“I feel it’s like the Twilight Zone,” Perini says. “Stress or the virus — I don’t know what’s going to get me first.”
Eight years ago, owners Perini and Miley Holmes started Easy Slider as a food truck. They roamed the city on a search for good parking spots, often dropping anchor in Sigel’s liquor lots. The truck grew, quickly, into bigger shoes.
They added smothered tater tots and adorable Topo Chico tabletop decor. Garage doors got rolled up, sunshine poured in and seared ahi tuna sliders found their way to the patio.
Now, they’re operating solely out of three constantly deep-cleaned trucks — each baby-blue vehicle is sterilized inside and out, every couple of hours, in this pandemic age.
This week, the owners hope to reopen the Deep Ellum location — gloves and masks on, of course, and practicing all social-distancing rules — with the full menu for pickup. They’ll add sandwich specials, soup kits, and, hope willing, a steak and baked potato night.
“It’s all about comfort food right now,” she says. “The things that make us feel safe and have a memory.”
Eight years later, as a crisis roars across the nation, our local mobile tiny burger joint is as good as ever: Salty, juicy disks of beef have a seared-crust outside fading to a rosy red center.
The Roadside burger, with grilled jalapeños, bacon, barbecue sauce (made in-house), and a nest of crispy fried onions, is dependable — each patty seared to a thick crust. You can lean on an order of these two mini-burgers in the bad times. The grilled ahi tuna burger is smoky, beset with a brightly medium-rare middle and arrives butter-tender. The bun gets a flash of spicy chili and garlicky mayo sauce.
Perini’s food trucks have kept their business, and her sense of normalcy, afloat. The anxiety is palpable out there: Perini's mind races with the uncertainty of the future, and she's ready, like we all are, to be on the other side of this nightmare.
She’s asking the wind: How long can we do this? For now, they’ll keep things as accessible and ready as possible to adapt. They’ll add more diner-like specials, hot sandwiches and soups, and a “fuck it” kit with ice cream, cookie dough and ramen.
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“Doing well” right now doesn’t mean booming business, Perini tells us. “It’s keeping staff on payroll. It’s keeping a sense of normalcy.”
What’s the new normal? It’s vacuum-sealed bacon and a food truck hauling it to the front of your house for delivering mini-burgers. Masks and gloves are on.
“Grab some sliders and some bleach to go sounds so weird, but you do what you gotta do.”