About a week after launching a food truck business in St. Augustine, chef Tyrone Bennett and his wife, Lateefa, were forced to halt operations when a driver crashed into the food truck they were towing on Interstate 95.
The St. Johns County residents hope to reopen Heart & SoulFood Truck on May 1, though they are still trying to recoup financial losses from the wreck, medical bills and the loss of income that followed, Bennett said.
“It was gut-wrenching,” he said.
Bennett has been active in the community over the past couple of years, organizing or having a hand in community feeding events and other volunteer efforts. He also launched We Feed St. Augustine, which provides food to the community.
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Bennett, who has done catering and pop-up dinner events locally, and Lateefa launched the food truck in March, offering a mix of standard soul food favorites like catfish, ribs, pulled pork, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and potato salad.
The couple bought the truck this year, and it was part of the We Feed St. Augustine operation as well as the for-profit business.
On March 30, about a week after their business launched, they were towing their food truck on I-95 South for an event in Palm Coast when a Hyundai hit the back of the truck, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s Office report. The driver told the deputy that he fell asleep after a long day at work, according to the report.
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The driver was cited for failure to maintain a lane, which was the only citation listed in the report. The sheriff’s office was not available for comment on Friday on whether additional citations have been filed.
“We were just rattled,” Bennett said. “We couldn’t believe it.”
People have stepped up to offer support, including someone who is preparing a new food truck for them. Bennett said the couple plans to relaunch soon. People can stay updated on the business’ Facebook page.
The Heart & SoulFood Truck will travel across the area and feature some regular locations, including St. Paul AME Church at 85 Martin Luther King Ave.
“We appreciate just the outpouring of support and telephone calls and emails, and we thank you and we will be back. Look for us to return May 1,” Bennett said.