“Your destination is on your right,” said my iPhone, notifying me that I had reached 1683 South Highland Avenue. I turned my head and saw nothing. Where was the food truck? I pulled into Popeye’s, put the car in “Park,” and stepped outside into the slightly muggy end-of-September-in-West-Tennessee weather. Scanning the landscape, my eyes fell onto a neon green trailer in the middle of a parking lot. I began my approach and saw “KC Finn’s” printed on its exterior, accented by several four leaf clovers.
“Is this Irish fare,” I thought to myself, “or the Southern breakfast I was promised?” As I walked towards the window, I took in the whole picture. Situated in one of Jackson’s many empty parking lots (this one between a Popeye’s and a Titlemax), two grey picnic tables were set up in front of the trailer, and a white Igloo cooler sat in between them, holding ice-cold drinks.
I approached the man on the grill, and he introduced himself as Charlie Finn, the “C” of KC Finn’s. “You have to put the wife’s name first,” said Charlie, only half joking as he dropped a hash brown into the deep frier on the back of his bright green trailer. He and his wife, Kathy, have run the stand together since the beginning of this summer. Unlike most business ventures, KC Finn’s started out as an impulse buy. One morning, Charlie woke up and decided to buy a food truck. “I told Kathy, ‘We’re gonna go to Alabama in the morning and pick up a trailer. We’re gonna open up a hamburger stand.’ And she said, “Okay.’
“It’s kind of one of those things that just happened,” he continued, cracking several eggs onto the flat-top, the whites sizzling into a solid. “I always teased about opening up a beef stand, or a hot dog stand, or something like that. Any Friday or Saturday night, I’d always be entertaining people, but I never realized my passion would turn into my career.” The Finns owned their own local heating, air, and plumbing company for several years in the Jackson area, but at some point, Charlie realized that plumbing was not his passion. Instead, he loved cooking, and he decided to pursue that passion on a whim.
“Family-owned” is one of those phrases that many restaurants throw around, hoping to draw in gullible customers. Few of these same customers can claim that they are also primarily family-run, but KC Finns is one of the exceptions. “During the weekend,” said Charlie, “my daughter Caitlyn comes and gives us a hand, and we’ll have both my boys, Charlie and Justin, come help out.” It’s clear from the banter between Charlie, on his grill, and everyone else inside that the truck is run by family. My conversation with Charlie was punctuated by the occasional “Walking breakfast ready!”, “Bacon needed!”, or “Hash browns coming in!,” as the flow of the truck never stopped, breathing and pulsing like a living creature.
“I like to call us a full mobile kitchen” says Charlie. “We have everything you would find in a typical diner: homemade, from-scratch buttermilk pancakes, homemade country sausage gravy, with a couple pounds of sausage thrown in there. Everything we have is fresh.” One of their biggest suppliers is Dalton Meat Company, a local butcher, run by two brothers, and the rest of their ingredients are local and fresh as well. In addition, everything is cooked to order, right in front of you.
Since you’re reading this article about a food truck, I’d imagine that you’re at least slightly interested in the food itself. Spoiler alert: It’s incredible, and you need to try it yourself. Starting at 9 a.m., breakfast is served, with some of the local favorites including the omelettes, the “melting pot,” and my personal favorite, the “Walking Breakfast”—a styrofoam cup filled to the brim with biscuits, gravy, your choice of meat, hash browns, and scrambled eggs.
For lunch, KC Finn’s serves what some Jackson-dwellers (including myself) have dubbed “the best hamburger I’ve ever had.” Local police officer George Smith has been coming to the truck for about five months and swears by it. “I was on a call, and I remember this man sitting on a porch, eating a hamburger,” says George, recalling his discovery of the burger like someone else might remember a life-changing pilgrimage. “He said, ‘This is the best hamburger I’ve ever had. I’m going to get another one.’ And then I went and got one myself, and it was the best hamburger I’d ever had.” Officer Smith isn’t the only local law enforcement who eats at KC Finn’s, as the local 911 dispatch eats at the truck daily.
Ultimately, there are bigger food truck cities. Memphis and Nashville are both relatively close, and offer a lot more “food truck clientele,” but the Finns have stayed in Jackson. “This is our home here,” said Charlie, gesturing to the community around him. “This is where the kids go to school. This is where we shop. This is our community, and that’s why it’s important to us that we set up here.” When the Finns felt the community of Jackson pour into them, they turned right around and decided to pour back into it, making some of the freshest, best food available, all from their little, bright green trailer between a Titlemax and a Popeye’s.
KC Finn’s is located at 1683 South Highland Avenue and is open from 10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. To learn more, visit their Facebook page.
Clark Hubbard is a Political Science and English double major at Union University. He loves all kinds of writing, especially short stories, screenplays, and political essays. Clark also participates in a ludicrous number of extracurricular activities for which he has no time, including debate, improv, and making coffee as a barista on campus. Clark's spirit animal is John McClane from the Die Hard series.
Photography by Katie Howerton.