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Just as it’s impossible to be sad when you are eating a giant baked potato and fresh-cut fries, it’s just as impossible to leave the Spud Doctors food truck in Bentonville without a smile on your face. The reasons? Josh and Mark.
Co-owners Josh Kitterman and Mark Dirienzo initially met while working at Walmart’s CMI division. But honestly, it was their wives who made the connection. It wasn’t like they each were looking for a friend, yet their wives knew better. Josh and Mark got to know each other over whiskey and cigars and before they knew it, they discovered they had even more in common than work, wives, whiskey, and cigars.
Mark’s background in the food industry was varied from owning a pizza shop in Vegas to a fish market in New York. He always had a big love of cooking and hosting massive parties. He is that one who is always making a heap of BBQ in the backyard, serving it to friends and family.
Josh cooked his entire career in Northwest Arkansas, starting with his first job at Plaza Pizza in Centerton when he was just 14 years old. He stayed there five years and before he left, the pizza joint had their main menu and let Josh create his own menu on the side. Customers kept coming back for “Josh’s menu.”
The two felt like they were caught behind a desk and longed to get back into the food world. They both missed the personal connection they used to have when people and food came together.
Josh and Mark put their thinking caps on and realized there was a huge gap in NWA. No one was serving baked potatoes and they felt it was a massive miss. They knew that everyone loved potatoes, so they decided to make and serve deliciously giant baked potatoes.
Okay, baked potatoes are one thing, but getting a perfect French fry down takes skill. Josh believes that “if you can cook a fryer right, you’re gold. There’s nothing like fresh crispy fries!”
Don’t worry Keto-friends, cauliflower is offered as a substitute and believe me, if you’re feeling guilty with all the potato carbs, you won’t feel like you’re missing out with the cauliflower. They sell a lot of it!
Mark’s wife came up with the Spud Doctors name because “mostly we like to doctor up spuds. The name was cheesy enough, retro, and dorky. It was perfect.” Josh’s wife jumped in and designed the logo and then it was official – the business launched.
In September of 2019, the Spud Doctor food truck opened in Bella Vista and shortly thereafter moved to Bentonville. While their Bentonville address has been a reliable location for some time, they have moved around a lot.
That’s the beauty of a food truck because it enables them to do different events and fundraisers.
“We love to take our food truck out to weddings,” Josh says. He adds, “We have a really good system set-up where everything goes smoothly. We are known to be reliable. Besides weddings, we do school events and catering where a trailer isn’t needed, like office lunches.”
In the next month or two, they are opening a second Spud Doctors food truck in Pea Ridge, next to Discover Church and baseball field (if you know Pea Ridge, you know the field – otherwise, you can’t miss it). Stay up-to-date on openings and hoopla on the Spud Doctor Facebook and Instagram pages.
I love that Spud Doctors has an officially unofficial pay-it-forward program where you pre-pay $5 for a spud and somebody that is hungry or in need (even if their card declines at the window) gets treated.
Spud Doctors also gives first responders in uniform a $5-you-call for anything on the menu. Josh is quick to joke that if he serves a firefighter he tells them, “if you see the food truck on fire, you better put it out!”
All of them because if they don’t sell, they don’t stay on the menu! The Philly is quite popular and is a giant baked potato piled high with steak or roasted chicken, freshly made cheese sauce, caramelized onion, and sautéed bell peppers.
The BBQ, The Meatball, and The Carne Asada giant potatoes are crazy popular. Mark makes the meatballs from scratch using his grandmother’s recipe and I guarantee you will relish every bite.
Smashbrowns are only available on Saturdays and were initially added to the menu as a way to get rid of any extra leftovers from the week. This allowed them to start with fresh ingredients every week. Eventually, it got so popular they had to make a special batch of spuds to get ready for Saturdays!
Spud Doctors truly believes that customer service is #1. They want their food to be consistent, high quality, and customer service on-point every time.
“You come for food, you stay because we turn everybody into friends,” says Josh. “We cook like they are our friends and families. You’ll hear us give someone a hard time. Then, the next person comes in and will tell us a story about their day. We’re kinda like the barbershop with banter back and forth. We wanted to be in this business because we enjoy people and enjoy food and we wanted everybody else to enjoy it too.”
I guess that’s the reason why they won Best of NWA’s 2020 Food Truck of the Year. It’s because they want the best for their customers, aka their friends. Oh, and their potatoes will keep you coming back for more.
903 SW A Street
(check Facebook for up-to-date schedules)
Tuesday – Friday from 11am-2pm & 4pm-7pm
Monday & Saturday – 11am-2pm
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