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Small truck, big mission – with a Chicago twist

Elmore man dishes out hot dogs amid journey to touch local lives

April 16, 2017
Cody Benjamin - Register Staff Writer (cbenjamin@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

Parked in front of a vacant storefront along Highway 169 in Elmore, home to just over half a thousand people in one of the rural pockets of Southern Minnesota, is a bright orange food truck.

Standing in the truck's service window, hands outspread and holding hot dogs unlike most offered in the Midwest, is a man of Cuban descent with childhood roots stemming from Chicago.

His name is Dominic Morrow.

Article Photos

Dominic Morrow, above and at right, is the sole operator of Eatz N Treatz, a Chicago-themed food truck
specializing in hot dogs and found across
Faribault County. But the portable lunch wagon, shown at one of its most popular destinations, small-town Elmore, is just one of many
professional ventures from Morrow, who is also a published author, ordained minister and community activist. The hot dogs he serves, Morrow says, are merely a
symbol of joy he hopes to offer his customers.

And the scene of his small-town, on-the-go food service is hardly as contained as it seems.

The truck itself, branded as "Eatz N Treatz" with a colorful logo created by his five children, is just big enough for his one-man operation. Its business handles hungry customers one by one, catching the eyes of 169 passersby and then promising to deliver "signature Chicago taste" with a menu topped by Chi-Town-style hot dogs.

But the venture is more than a lunchtime hotspot. Its reach extends far beyond Elmore. And not only because Morrow parks the truck at different spots parallel to the highway, touring on 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekday shifts from Blue Earth to Winnebago to Albert Lea and even Mankato over the course of a several-month season.

"169 is our stretch," Morrow says.

The real reason Eatz N Treatz offers a lot more than eats and treats, though, is because of the man behind the wheel.

The journey that led to the food truck's creation.

And the grand mission for which it plays a role.

"I moved out here because, to be honest, Chicago is like a third-world country in some parts," Morrow says. "I had a hard life myself, and I did not want to raise my children there."

Raised in uptown Chicago, Morrow says he suffered as the result of some of his own poor choices. But after moving to pursue psychology and criminal justice degrees at Minnesota State University, Mankato, he also realized he did not want to be bogged down by the community that haunted his youth.

"I saw too many people dying," he says. "I wanted to make something better for myself."

How, then, did a kid from "the projects," as Morrow admits, in the country's third most populous city wind up selling hot dogs in Elmore, of all places?

The secret lies in the fact that, underneath the Eatz N Treatz T-shirt he dons in small towns and fairs across rural Minnesota, Morrow is on a quest to save lives.

That is right. Lives.

Tattooed on Morrow's neck is the Hebrew spelling of "Yeshua," which is translated as "Jesus" in Greek. And sewn into his heart is a passion for touching people and sharing faith through the work that he does.

"I owe it all to Jesus Christ," he says. "Yeshua saved me, so I'm going to try to save others. This is just one of many ways I get out and meet people."

And he is right. Eatz N Treatz is but one of the platforms in which Morrow has invested to expand his horizons.

"I'm back in school getting my master's in psychology to be a chemical dependency counselor," he says. "And I'm also an ordained minister, so I'm at food drives, going to talk at jails and help people."

When he is not paying visits to prisoners in counties across the state, from Brown and Nicollet to Blue Earth and Faribault, he also dedicates time to finalizing a motivational book, which would be his third published through Amazon.

In some sense, all those responsibilities are a way for Morrow and his wife, Nicole, to support five kids Akeira, Xavier, Dominic Jr., Zaire and Kenya, all of whom either attend or did attend Blue Earth Area.

"They're expensive," he jokes.

But the truth is that he is out to make a difference, not only to rectify the wounds of his own upbringing but share the faith that helps make that possible.

It just so happens that operating a food truck, with a home base in Elmore, is one of the avenues in which he has chosen to do so.

"Last year, I drove past this old food truck," he says. "I always had a passion for food and restaurants, so I bought it, rebuilt it from scratch and got a license."

It was not long before cheeseburgers, walking tacos and sometimes even ribs made it onto a menu, onto the truck and into the hands of curious visitors.

With his children chipping in to bring Eatz N Treatz to life, the upstart business enjoyed a five-month opening season in 2016.

"They loved us," Morrow says. "I didn't expect it."

Now, when the bright orange truck pulls up in the vacant lot just a few blocks from his Elmore home, he expects to see plenty of people.

And most of them, he says, are coming for the one Chicago memory he clings to the city's signature hot dog, bare of ketchup but topped with diced tomatoes, onions, mustard and pickled sport peppers.

"Oh yeah," he says. "I grew up eating those."

And until the end of his mission to feed people not only as a food-truck connoisseur but as a minister of sorts, Southern Minnesota will keep eating them, too.

"I'm going to keep going until the Lord tells me otherwise," Morrow says. "He brought me this far, so I'm going to keep going."

Morrow expects to wrap up school early in 2018. And his ultimate vision for the food industry is to leave behind a business for his kids, whether through the truck or a restaurant.

Until then, he is content to meet people to change people in front of a vacant storefront and along the rural pathways of Southern Minnesota.

Standing in the window of a bright orange food truck, hands outspread with a couple of signature hot dogs. tacos and sometimes even ribs made it onto a menu, onto the truck and into the hands of curious visitors.

With his children chipping in to bring Eatz N Treatz to life, the upstart business enjoyed a five-month opening season in 2016.

"They loved us," Morrow says. "I didn't expect it."

Now, when the bright orange truck pulls up in the vacant lot just a few blocks from his Elmore home, he expects to see plenty of people.

And most of them, he says, are coming for the one Chicago memory he clings to the city's signature hot dog, bare of ketchup but topped with diced tomatoes, onions, mustard and pickled sport peppers.

"Oh yeah," he says. "I grew up eating those."

And until the end of his mission to feed people not only as a food-truck connoisseur but as a minister of sorts, Southern Minnesota will keep eating them, too.

"I'm going to keep going until the Lord tells me otherwise," Morrow says. "He brought me this far, so I'm going to keep going."

Morrow expects to wrap up school early in 2018. And his ultimate vision for the food industry is to leave behind a business for his kids, whether through the truck or a restaurant.

Until then, he is content to meet people to change people in front of a vacant storefront and along the rural pathways of Southern Minnesota.

Standing in the window of a bright orange food truck, hands outspread with a couple of signature hot dogs.

 
 

 

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