By: Connor Mabon – Opinions Editor
While sound systems in the Ghetto and Darkside blare the latest radio hits during anticipated weekend nights, the food trucks on campus choose to rock to a different beat – one guided by the roaring hum of generators that power these mobile kitchens.
“Food trucks are the biggest rave right now. In the last two to three years, Dayton went from three trucks to – since I counted last – about 40,” said David Hughes, the self-taught owner of DD Sandwiches and Subs situated at the intersection of Lowes St. and Lawnview Ave.
His approach isn’t fancy, nor should it be. Hughes’ taste for familiar foods most people have enjoyed since their youth perfectly appeals to the rumbling stomachs of amped-up college students. What can be found on DD’s focused menu are simple and straightforward recipes that comfort the soul like an extra sweater does during frigid winter nights.
Through a disciplined trial-and-error process of figuring out the right recipes, Hughes feels that over the years and after all the positive feedback from students, the steady business he receives is justification enough to prove his culinary creations are worth more than one bite.
“I’ve done this for 21 years and if you find the right niche you’re going to make good money. You’ve got to work hard at it though,” Hughes said. “I run a route Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and come to UD on the weekends, but sometimes I’m on campus Wednesday and Thursday nights too.
“Students seem to generally be happy about the food. The reason why I run the window is so I can see every sandwich that’s going out and control the quality of the product,” he said. “I try to keep it simple and use premium ingredients. So far, my number one selling sandwich is still the Italian sub.”
For $6.95, Hughes’ top-seller provides a hearty serving of mildly spicy deli meats like capicola and salami. Their subtle heat is amplified by a handful of banana pepper rings and further complimented by tangy vinaigrette, cool lettuce and crisp, diced onions.
Completing the sandwich, as any master of this specific culinary art will tell you, is the bread. At DD’s, the hoagie roll has a light, airy inside with a flaky exterior, while still capable of withstanding the persistent seepage of Italian dressing that makes its way into every crack and crevice, allowing for a relatively mess-free experience.
If you’re not looking to add another notch in your belt, try a $3 chili dog. Served hot and fresh, this conveniently portable American classic (and one of Hughes’ favorite menu items) will make your numbed taste buds bark for more.
In lieu of the injustice that is ketchup, ask for a smear of spicy brown mustard and a sprinkle of diced onions. The combination of the two cuts through the chili’s richness and adds a crunchy bite to the chewy nature of the bun’s texture.
“Students will always ask me what they should get,” Hughes said. But just like the orders that fly out the window, Hughes’ response to the indecisive student comes swiftly often by saying “Well, what are you hungry for?”
I’m confident that no matter the choice, it’s all good at DD’s. Hughes’ fervent pursuit to please his customers has paid off, making his food truck close to, if not already, a household name on campus.
“I won’t serve anything that I won’t eat myself,” he said. “I’ve always run the truck that way and it seems to have worked out pretty well.”