A week after opening, with vintage customized red and off-white paint still fresh on the leased truck, the Lewis Bros.—Charlie and Oliver—cook up banh mi (Asian pork sandwiches) and kimchi hot dogs on the curb in front of Nobrow Coffee. However, for these two local music stalwarts and audiophiles, one thing’s missing: a radio.
“With the amount of moisture, heat and grease in a food truck, something like a car stereo is probably on a six-month replacement schedule,” Charlie says. “Once we get the stereo in, we’ll be a rock & roll food truck, finally.”
The catalyst for the truck itself, which started serving July 3 and whose location you can track on Twitter.com/LewisBrosFood, can essentially be traced back to rock & roll.
First, it’s worth noting the siblings’ musical history in Salt Lake City. They formed their first band in 1998 while in high school. In 2000, Oliver branched out with Tolchock Trio, which has been his musical mainstay (“He hasn’t been as much of a ‘band whore,’ as we call ’em, as I have,” Charlie says). Around that same time, The Rubes started up, with Charlie playing drums; he’s also played in The Wolves, Band of Annuals and “a bunch of groups that are too many to name.” The brothers currently play together in the Salt Lake Electric Ensemble.
Beginning in 2009, the brothers both worked—mostly carpentry—at Eva for friend/restaurateur Charlie Perry, and got a firsthand look at how a restaurant is run. “It just got the gears turning to do our own food venture at some point,” Charlie says after a busy lunch shift; Oliver snuck away to buy groceries. Charlie has since stopped working at Eva because of heavy touring with Band of Annuals.
Although that band broke up, the extensive traveling became lucrative for food-truck research with stops in Seattle, New York City and Austin, all of which have incredible four-wheel food possibilities. “That’s when I really got into the idea,” Charlie says.
Aside from those travels, Charlie cites David Chang of Momofuku as a major culinary inspiration: “He’s just done some of the more exciting food of the last few years, and influenced a lot of people doing food trucks.” And the simple name and design of the Lewis Bros. truck makes it a blank canvas, as in that the current Asian bent might change. The recipes for a few of their menu items—like the kimchi fries—were created right on the truck.
The spirit of constant, evolving creation makes sense, because creativity is the commonality between the musical and culinary arts. “I think the creative part of your brain becomes developed after a certain number of years, whether you’re working with food or art or music,” Charlie says, adding that, as musicians, the brothers have confidence in creative pursuits, skills at problem solving and that indie, DIY attitude.
The rock & roll lifestyle also puts Lewis Bros. food truck at another advantage, Charlie muses. “We’re aware of nightlife opportunities; we know how those spots work,” he says. There aren’t many local food trucks that will stick it out on the streets to serve the fourth meal. The Lewis Bros. have found a niche—“late-night delicious munchie food”—and will be out serving till 2 a.m. when after-concert and last-call hunger strikes.
So, once they get the stereo in and start rocking, it leaves one question: Will these musicians host Lewis Bros. food truck concerts? “Yup ...” and after a pause, Charlie corrects himself. “I’m staying mum on that. We’ve got lots of big ideas.”
The Lewis Bros. talk about their music picks:
“What Is This”
Fly Me to the Moon/ My Prescription
One of my Top Five guys ever—one of the best rough soul singers. I’ve only grown to like him more and more. It’s cool: Bobby will sing and play guitar. You’ll hear him say, “Play that guitar Bobby!” and he’ll be talking to himself (laughs). He’s a poet and a bit egotistical—it’s a good thing for him. (Charlie)
“A Deeper Shade of Soul”
Latin Soul Man
I knew there was a one-hit wonder, Urban Dance Squad, who sampled this. I heard the original maybe 10 months ago, and was like “Whoa!” He’s just this South American dude that plays soul-influenced salsa. I bought some of his records at Slowtrain before they went away. (Charlie)
Elvis Costello & The Imposters
“No Hiding Place”
One of my favorite artists of all time. He was the first concert I ever saw, when I was 10—I have a cool mom. The Rubes used to play a bunch of ’50s songs, but we did one Costello song, “Mystery Dance,” at my request. (Charlie)
Killer Mike feat. Scar
Flat out, some of the best hip-hop I’ve heard in a long time. El-P produced the whole album and he proves himself, once again, to be the best around. There’s the required fat beats but also a real depth and musicality. The rhymes are fiery and eloquent with references to politics, literature, etc. Next-level shit. (Oliver)
Pink Flag (Dig)
This is one of those bands whose influence among musicians far outweighs their imprint on pop culture. Nasty guitars, just nasty. Probably the group my band, Tolchock Trio, rips off the most. Totally ahead of their time. Pink Flag is a pretty jagged collection of one- and two-minute weirdnesses. (Oliver)