When Kevin Huyck’s executive chef role at a senior housing facility was eliminated, he turned to comfort food. Mac and cheese, to be exact.
But he didn’t binge on it—he made it, in variations like chicken taco, Reuben, and Mexican street corn mac, all sold from the window of his food truck: R.A. MacSammy’s. And after tooling around town on wheels since 2012, he’ll soon set up shop in south Minneapolis at 735 E. 48th St., the storefront that formerly housed Sum Dem Korean Barbeque.
The heart of R.A. MacSammy’s menu is customizability, or as they call it: “Build Your Own Macsterpiece.” You can add everything from bratwurst and bacon to seared Brussels sprouts and jalapeños to your mac. There are dozens of "feature macs" on the rotating menu, too, everything from Nashville hot chicken to butternut squash and bacon to chicken divan to lobster. Sandwiches are standbys, and when Huyck has time, he does deep-fried mac and cheese bites.
The menu at the restaurant will remain much the same, though Huyck will add snacks, family-style options, and a “meat and three” (a choice of meats like pulled pork, smoked brisket, and roast chicken with three sides), inspired by Southern cooking. He’s also contemplating Barbecue Spaghetti: noodles with meatless Sloppy Joe sauce, onions, peppers, and a choice of chopped meat on top. “It sounds really good,” he says, “but it’s not a definite on the menu yet.”
It's not the first time Huyck has grappled with uncertainty. His education was originally in video and film production—he moved to Minnesota to get involved in the industry—but that dream didn’t pan out. “I needed a real career,” he says.
So three weeks after he got married in 1994, he started working at the catering facility where his wedding took place. That led to cooking at country clubs, hotels, and restaurants. But “working at restaurants can be a brutal pace and a lot of late nights,” he says. He transitioned to cooking for senior living facilities because it allowed him to be home in the evenings with his family. But if he hadn’t ended up unemployed, perhaps R.A. MacSammy’s never would have hit the streets.
Two things inspired the mac truck: first, accessibility. Second: Royal Pains, a show on USA Network about a concierge doctor in the Hamptons. One of the clients the fictional doctor helped was the owner of a gourmet mac and cheese truck. “I watched that and I’m like, ‘That’s really not a bad idea, ‘cause who doesn’t like mac and cheese?’” Huyck recalls.
The space is small, just 850 square feet total, with a dining room that’s a mere 250 square feet. But having the truck’s commissary based at the restaurant will make up for it. “It gives us a little more room to experiment because we have the time, in our own space, to be able to do things rather than being at the whim of the calendar when we’re using a shared-use kitchen,” says Huyck, who’s been doing prep work at City Food Studio. He hopes to open by July.
Huyck is eager to see how the business grows with the new brick-and-mortar location. He’s already expanded the name to R.A. MacSammy’s Elbow Room.
“If we were looking at a bigger place, it would have been cool,” he says. “In our case, it kind of ends up being a little bit ironic because it’s so small.”
R.A. MacSammy’s Elbow Room
735 E. 48th St., Minneapolis
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.