One of the newest food trucks in Winston-Salem comes from Mooresville.
Owner Chris Yelton is launching his second Lobster Dogs truck primarily to break into the Winston-Salem market.
Yelton, who also owns Sports Page Food & Spirits, a bar and restaurant in Mooresville, started his Lobster Dogs food truck about four years ago after a slow night at his restaurant. (Other Sports Page restaurants, in Charlotte and Denver, have separate owners.)
“It was a Friday night, and I asked one of the waitresses why she thought we were so slow,” Yelton said, “and she said there was a food truck rally in town.”
Yelton went down the street to check out the truck rally and was blown away by what has become a common sight — the hundreds to thousands of people who will flock to any gathering of a handful or more of food trucks.
After noticing how many were there, the other thing that struck Yelton was how similar all the food was.
“It was all the same kinds of trucks — barbecue, tacos, burgers,” he said.
“My wife and I had just come back from vacation up north and been introduced to lobster rolls, and I fell in love with them,” he said.
That’s when the idea hit him to start his own food truck with lobster rolls. He calls them dogs, mainly because of the bun, but other than that they are similar to the New England specialty.
Since he started Lobster Dogs, Cousins Maine Lobster — which gained fame from being featured on “Shark Tank” — has started franchises in North Carolina. But back in 2016, Yelton was the only one doing lobster rolls in Mooresville and the Charlotte area.
Yelton calls his truck a “premium” food truck because it uses expensive seafood. “People told me I was crazy to do seafood on a truck and charge $15 for a lobster roll,” he said.
But customers seem to like it. The truck sold out early on its first forays into Winston-Salem, at Juggheads Growlers and Pints and Wise Man Brewing Co. Some people waited an hour in line in the cold.
His lobster rolls feature claw and knuckle lobster meat with warm melted lemon butter and salt, pepper and oregano on a buttered and toasted bun with “just a swipe” of mayonnaise. He said he buys Maine lobster meat already cooked but fresh, never frozen.
“Some lobster rolls have a lot of mayonnaise, and it’s like chicken salad — mine aren’t like that,” Yelton said. “I want you to taste the lobster.”
These rolls are brimming over with about as many large buttery chunks of lobster that’ll fit on a hot-dog bun. The $15 rolls come with a side of chips.
Customers also can order the same roll with snow crab ($13) or shrimp ($11). The crab and shrimp are cooked fresh at the Sports Page. “I crack all the snow crab, and we use local shrimp,” he said.
Yelton also now serves three kinds of stuffed avocados — a menu item he developed after he got an extra delivery of avocados one time at his restaurant.
His original stuffed avocado ($9) is a whole avocado — peeled and chopped — with black-bean and corn salad, pico de gallo, chimichurri sauce and chipotle ranch dressing. Customers can add shrimp, crab or lobster to the avocado for $3, $4 or $5 more. He also offers stuffed avocados with seared tuna ($12) and Buffalo chicken ($10).
The Lobster Dogs menu sticks to those six items. “I want every item to be perfect,” he said, “so with just six items, it helps me to focus on each one.”
Yelton said he has been overwhelmed by the response to Lobster Dogs in Winston-Salem. “I know we’re the new kid on the block, but the reception has been amazing,” he said.
At Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Co. on Jan. 26, about 20 were lined up in front of the Lobster Dogs trailer by 11:30 a.m. — a half-hour before it opened. By 12:30 p.m., the line had grown to 75 people; by 1:15 p.m., it was 100.
“The first time we came to Winston, I didn’t know what to expect,” Yelton said. “I created an event page (on Facebook) and within two days, it had been shared 800 times.”