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Barbecuers expand from food truck into Route 7 site

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Posted on August 9, 2018 |
By Christopher Ross



porkys6275.jpg
CHRYSTAL AND LONIE Parker found a permanent home for their successful Porky’s Backyard BBQ and Smokehouse. Doors opened Aug. 1 at 7404 Ethan Allen Highway in New Haven. Below, maple-smoked “pork belly bites,” one of the eatery's most popular items. Independent photo/Trent Campbell

NEW HAVEN — In May 2017 Lonie and Chrystal Parker started with an empty utility trailer and a Vermont Department of Health checklist spelling out everything required to obtain a food truck permit.

Fifteen months later they’ve opened a permanent restaurant.

On Aug. 1, after a brief stint in Vergennes, Porky’s Backyard BBQ and Smokehouse served its first meal at 7404 Route 7 in New Haven, (most recently the former home of the Carol’s Diner).

“People want a good home-cooked meal,” said Lonie. “We want to cater to that. If someone says, ‘This is what I want,’ if I have the stuff to make it, I’ll make it.”

Overlooking New Haven’s rolling hills, Porky’s serves three meals a day, six days a week from a menu chock full of all-American comfort food — bacon and eggs, hamburgers, pizza and “cowzones” — but their main focus, of course, is barbeque.

You can get a pulled-pork wrap for breakfast, a pulled-pork cobb salad for lunch and a “Sloppy Burger Basket” for supper — a quarter-pound of locally sourced grass-fed beef, topped with American cheese and ... pulled-pork.

One of the Parkers’ specialties is the cubed “pork belly bite,” which Lonie’s 10-year-old son, Dakota, calls a “little baby bite of heaven.” Smoked overnight with Grant Hill Farm maple syrup, the bites impart a complex smoky-sweet pork flavor.

Their customers can’t get enough of them, Chrystal said.

The Parkers have received rave reviews from day one.

“Porky’s is the best barbecue I’ve found north of Kentucky,” wrote a Nashville, Tenn., native in an online review last spring.

A company in Pennsylvania recently contacted the Parkers about franchising Porky’s. Though the couple decided for the moment not to pursue that route, the attention has certainly been validating.

Lonie, who grew up on a Charlotte farm, cooked his first pig when he was 15. Neighbor and fellow tinkerer Donald Jacques, renowned for his pig roasts, taught him how.

Over 25-plus years of work and running businesses Lonie has acquired an impressive array of skills — the sorts of skills that make it possible to look at an empty utility trailer and say with confidence, “I think I’ll turn that into a food truck.”

He met Chrystal in 2010. A year later they started raising cows and pigs on his farm in Waltham, which eventually acquired the name Flying Pig Farm.

“WE’RE SMOKIN’!” SAYS Lonie Parker as he checks on the smoker at Porky’s BBQ off Route 7 in New Haven. The new restaurant opened Aug. 1.

Independent photo/Trent Campbell

“If you had asked me when I was growing up if I’d like to be a pig farmer I would have said no way,” said Chrystal, who also works full-time for the Vermont State Police. “But I love it.”

In 2014, after a few years’ hiatus, Lonie took up pig roasting again and, encouraged by friends and family, began to do a little informal catering. The idea for a food truck developed when Vermont officials notified him that his enterprise would need a permit.

The Parkers’ original plan was to operate a summertime food truck, but their business was so successful that expansion into something larger and more permanent seemed like a no-brainer.

“We’re passionate about what we do,” Chrystal said. “We love sharing our food with people.”

The work is a nice antidote to her job with the state police, where situations often involve people who are not at their best. “Working for Porky’s makes people enjoyable again,” she said.

Lonie agrees:

“It’s not about the money. As long as the bills get paid, and we can take the kids on trips sometimes, we’re happy.”

At the moment, Porky’s employs two people full-time and two part-time, with help from Dakota and from Chrystal’s 18-year-old daughter, Allysha Devoid, and her 16-year-old son, Grady Devoid. The kids also help run Flying Pig Farm.

“We like working with people who are as passionate as we are,” Chrystal said.

Though they’ve been open only a few days, the Parkers are already thinking about the future. In addition to outdoor seating on their small backyard deck, they’re hoping to add a large tent to their back field, so they can host large events onsite.

In the meantime, the food truck that started it all (which the Vermont state health inspector said was “the nicest homemade food truck I have ever seen”), will continue to deliver savory Porky’s goodness all over Addison County, and beyond.

Porky’s is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, including menus, visit porkysbbqvt.com.

Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]

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