Alexis T. Rhoden
Oxford and Lafayette County citizens seem to always seek ways to bring the community together, and there’s no better way to do this than through food.
Brookhaven native Jake Sessums is the owner of a food truck that many pass by on their way to the Oxford Square. Surprisingly, Sessums is not a cook, but he works with many people who run the business.
“There are people that I work with, I work above, I work under in some capacity that we [as a collective] make all of this possible,” he said.
Sessums started YoknapaTaco and a commissary kitchen called Head Wallflower in 2015. “I got into the taco truck because I liked the service aspect of it,” he said. “I thought there was a hole in the market and a need for late night food services, especially on the Square. They stop serving after 10 p.m.”
The taco truck is offered late nights and days. Sometimes the truck offers lunch at FNC Park. Sometimes, it’s parked by the United Parcel Service on University Avenue.
Sessums views the YoknapaTaco truck as a “catering vessel.” “It’s a way to have a full kitchen on the go,” he said.
Sessum’s friend, Ben Pinon, said he is a friendly manager who gave his employees many responsibilities and a lot of trust.
“I can think of a specific time when I was working at the register for a very busy baseball game,” he said. “A (customer) tried to game us for free food by saying he had ordered, but never got his food. Jake trusted me and our system and made that very clear to the kid. I’ll leave it at that.”
Sessums believes the food truck has a way of reaching people in a way others can’t. He said his team always finds new ways to tweak the business to appeal to the public. When he first purchased the truck, it was white, but he had a more colorful vision.
“We built a brand around it [the truck] and decided what our model would look like,” he said. “We designed it for late night tacos. The vision came together overtime. I wondered why there were no food trucks in Oxford.”
One of the most interesting topics about the taco truck is its name. Many people can’t pronounce it. “It’s funny that we’re sitting in Square Books,” Sessums said, while sitting in the bookstore, “because … well known author William Faulkner .. wrote about a fictional county called Yoknapatawpha. (The name) is based off of Oxford and Lafayette County and the (Yoknapatawpha Arts Council) that runs out of the Powerhouse. So we just kind of took that and made it a play on words.”
In the future, Sessums plans to host or join other festivals. Where does he see the company in 20 years?
“Oh man! In 20 years? If I still own this truck and the kitchen, I hope everything will grow,” he said.
Sessums does not plan to buy another food truck, but he is always open to new business ideas.