By CHERIL VERNON
You could call young Palestine native Leslie “Lulu” Dyess a “rambling woman” or “rolling stone” due to her travels the last few years all over the country.
But her travels led her back to Texas and eventually back to Palestine where she opened a new food truck business in Old Town recently called “Fork in the Road” where she serves what she calls “tacos that take you places.”
While Dyess, a 2001 graduate of Palestine High School and a graduate of St. Edward’s University in Austin, has always loved cooking, when she first finished college, she never dreamed she would go down the path she is on now.
“I started working in the music industry. I always had a love for music,” Dyess said, noting she loved the South by Southwest atmosphere in Austin. “My senior year in college, I took a job with High Wire Music Records.”
A road trip to Detroit and all over eventually set Dyess on another path ending up eventually back in Texas as the production manager for the Marfa Film Festival in West Texas.
“That was pretty much a turning point of discovery for me,” Dyess said. “It was just a couple of young kids like me, but we doubled the size of Marfa. It was magic.”
During her time in Marfa with its scanty restaurant options in the desert — Dyess began to dream of food.
“One dish became a recurring element — a pork taco that I’ve never tasted — a delectable pork marinated in a medley of citrus juices and then doused in a smoky red sauce and dressed with homemade escabeche (a traditional Mexican side dish of pickled carrots, purple onions and jalapenos),” Dyess said.
With a Mexican heritage she is proud of and a love for the culinary that started an early age, Dyess’ wheels began to turn inside her head.
Dyess then moved back to Austin, but the city had changed.
“It didn’t feel like the Austin I used to live in. It was like a big pond and I was a small fish,” Dyess said.
Last November, she began looking into the food truck business — pairing her menu ideas with a way to reach the masses — and ultimately decided her hometown, Palestine, would be the place to introduce her new venture.
Currently, Fork in the Road is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. in Old Town Palestine at 302 E. Crawford St. between Shelton Gin and Petals flower shop, with the late dinner and after-hours crowd in mind.
Dyess has a few tables by candlelight set up for those who want to enjoy the Old Town atmosphere.
“I love it here in Old Town. I think it’s a great spot. I really think Old Town could really turn into a local music scene or creative haven, we just have to start it,” Dyess said. “I think this area could really become the place to be if the art and music scene continues to grow. I could even see more food trucks with their own specialties becoming a possibility.”
That first taco she dreamed about is now a reality. The Trans Pecos Pulled Pork — is now on her menu, along with the Ghost Ranch New Mexico Chicken taco and the Lost Pine Picadillo Beef taco. Her signature salsa and escabeche also are on the menu.
“The tacos are born in truth — they have evolved as I dreamed up how to blend the flavors to give people something to talk about. I want a taco you will enjoy, a taco that takes you places,” Dyess said. “One bite of the heavenly chicken tomatillo taco with roasted corn salsa or the pitch perfect beef picadillo taco will send you places you may have only visited in dreams.”
Dyess said she has received support from not only her family and friends, but the community as well in her new endeavor as a small business owner.
“Mary Jean Mollard, who leased the spot out to me, has been so supportive — so has the whole community,” Dyess said. “I also could not have done this without the support of my family, my sisters and my friends.”
Some of her friends and family — including her mom Kristina Berrera and sisters Tiffany Dyess and Ashley LaValle, have helped out the last few weekends. Her sister Tiffany is helping with public relations and marketing and other friends have lent support in other ways to make her vision a reality.
Follow Fork in the Road on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to view the menu and get live updates about daily specials. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for office lunch delivery or special event catering. For more information, visit http://forkintheroadtx.com or call 903-729-FORK (3675).
“We are available for catering or to set up in other areas, but we have to be invited,” Dyess said.
Dyess plans to add more items to the menu as her business grows.
“I may eventually add lunch times or other days to build my business, but I’m taking it a little at a time,” Dyess said.