A long time area musician who once ran the downtown music lab for students (now based at Jefferson Center), Charlie Hamill also likes to cook.
So he attended Virginia Western Community College’s culinary arts program and then opened his food truck – the Rock and Roll Diner. Now that operation has found a permanent home – at 2406 Franklin Road near the intersection with Broadway, across from the Carilion Orthopedics Center.
Hamill leased the building from Southern Printing and has decorated it with rock and roll memorabilia. There’s live music on weekends and an outdoor patio that is ideal when the weather is nice.
The newly-expanded appetizer menu and favorites like Hamill’s award-winning fish tacos will continue to be cooked on the food truck, then brought inside to patrons that can also sip craft beers and wine while sitting at the bar top or at tables.
At a recent ribbon cutting Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea also noted the other development along that Franklin Road corridor, which includes Mellow Mushroom across the street and Earth Fare, the natural foods grocery store that will open on November 8 with an early morning ribbon cutting.
“This is an important [corridor] for our city coming to life,” said Lea, “we’re looking at the businesses that are coming here – a number of years ago this was considered a flood [plain]. To have these businesses here speaks well of our city. I’m excited about the potential here. It’s a good location.”
Hamill has had the food truck on the road for 5 years and says he has toyed with the idea of a brick and mortar location in the past. “We started looking last December at places around town and this one became available. We decided to go ahead.”
The food truck will continue to show up at some events and Hamill may bring on a smaller food truck next year since the original “is our primary kitchen.”
Hamill calls his fare “a mix between good old comfort food – cheesesteaks, burgers, barbecue, gourmet tacos, and healthy clean [dishes],” including vegetarian.
Hamill says several other food trucks around town have also found standalone homes like he now has on Franklin Road. “It’s definitely a trend in some of the bigger cities where [people] have been trucking forever.” That way fans of the food offered “know where you are. It’s much easier to find you.”
By Gene Marrano