Last September at the Lowell Food and Wine Festival, Melissa Lynch was unsure what to expect as she parked her food truck, The Roving Lunchbox, in Kerouac Park, where people lined up ready to taste some of Lowell’s finest food and wine. As she and her staff began serving customers, live music was playing and everyone in line seemed to be laughing, talking and dancing. Lynch quickly realized the Lowell Food and Wine Festival is nothing short of “an outdoor party,” with great energy, live entertainment, food and drinks, and she cannot wait to be part of it again this year.
Lynch created the first Roving Lunchbox food truck in May 2015, but started her business by selling soups and hand pies at local farmer’s markets. She first went to the Kendall Square Farmer’s Market in Cambridge, where she loved the “atmosphere of closeness,” and could get immediate feedback from customers on the food she was selling. Lynch began attending farmer’s markets all over MA, until she got the idea to open up a food truck.
She now has three food trucks that mainly serve lunch on the Greenway in Boston, and has attended food truck festivals in Connecticut, New Hampshire and other New England locations. Serving from a food truck gives Lynch the opportunity to create close relationships with her customers, as she can see their immediate reaction to her food and loves hearing their feedback.
The menu embraces traditional meals from Wales, where Lynch’s family is from, including savory and sweet hand pies, salads and soups, perfect for lunch on-the-go. Lynch’s great-grandfather used to create pasties out of meat, vegetables or something sweet for a portable lunch, and her mother grew up doing the same thing. Eventually her mother moved to America, where she passed down the traditional recipes to Lynch and her sisters.
Now, The Roving Lunchbox serves traditional hand pies with chicken, beef, vegetables or fruit, but also embraces new flavors from around the world. Lynch has created the Jerk Chicken hand pie and Beef Empanada, which incorporate Cuban flavors into the traditional hand pie recipe. She also serves many dessert hand pies which are popular at festivals, including Salted Caramel Apple and Raspberry Nutella. Lynch described her recipes as “my take on different kinds of foods”, saying “the essence isn’t tradition, but rather embracing all new kinds of foods.”
At this year’s festival, The Roving Lunchbox menu will be mainly the same, but Lynch added Mac and Cheese as a side dish. She feels “more prepared” for the festival this year, since she now has more experience running her food truck and handling a crowd of people. Last year with just two staff members managing the truck, she still felt they “had as much fun as the customers,” and she can’t wait to do the same this year.
Although Lynch loves the closeness to her customers with the food trucks, she hopes to someday open a store front where customers can order food and sit in a small, comfortable space. Festivals like TLFWF help Lynch expand her food truck to new areas with people who have never tasted hand pies before, and she hopes to continue sharing her family recipes and adding new flavors.