It all started with a little friendly competition. Bobby Bradford and Tyrone Steans were friends who competed over cooking the best fried chicken. “We’d show up to the same family or friend’s events, like cookouts, and try to see who everyone liked better,” says Bobby, now co-owner and chef of SoulFull, a food truck that serves organic, southern fried chicken. “After a while, Tyrone suggested we start our own food cart.”
This was in 2014. Bobby hadn’t worked for a couple of years; his son had been diagnosed with cancer and was in remission. He used to work for Bank of America, but now he wanted a job that gave him more time with his family. Tyrone and Bobby took some business classes at Boston College and started putting together a business plan for the truck. Enter Ryan Cuddy. He tasted Bobby’s chicken and knew they were on to something. After months of preparation, SoulFull made its debut in September 2015, at Pumpkinfest in North Smithfield. It was an experience that Bobby looks back on fondly.
“I want people to appreciate our name and how our food complements the name,” says Bobby. “I want people to walk away feeling like they ate some old-fashioned chicken that Grandma made.” Cooking was always one of Bobby’s passions; he does the cooking for his family today and did the cooking growing up. Sunday dinners were a big thing. Bobby comes from New York, but his grandfather came from Mississippi. He was a cook in the army, and provided a lot of Bobby’s culinary influence. There’s no professional culinary training here, and SoulFull doesn’t need an ounce of it. Everything used is from family tradition or trial and error. They serve fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, hand-cut french fries, cornbread and more.
Bobby handles the cooking and human resources. Everything that goes on inside the truck is his domain. Tyrone keeps track of the operation’s finances, and Ryan handles the scheduling, paperwork and permits required. SoulFull has a wide selection of southern-style cooking, something that’s difficult to find in this part of New England outside a big chain.
This year marks SoulFull’s second summer season. They do a combination of street service and festival/event service. All the food is prepared on the truck, ensuring freshness. Bobby envisions owning a second truck and eventually, a regular brick-and-mortar restaurant. Their ultimate end game is to make SoulFull into a franchise and eclipse other fried chicken franchises, such as KFC. SoulFull doesn’t just serve chicken, however. They also give to charity. Every month they donate a portion of the profits they make on the truck to the Tomorrow Fund, a local nonprofit that assists children with cancer and their families. SoulFull is a great local food truck that’s food for the soul and feeds the soul by giving back to the community.
To see the current locations of local food trucks, visit motifri.com/food-truck-locator, brought to you by FoodTrucksIn RI (foodtrucksin.com), a Providence-based company allowing users to find local food trucks or food trucks in over 1,300 cities nationwide.