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Provender rolls into Iowa City

BY BILL COONEY | MAY 07, 2015 5:00 AM

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The newest food truck to hit the streets of Iowa City brings with it a wood-fired flavor and a vintage flair.

Provender is owned and operated by local chef Chris Grebner; it was hand-built in North Carolina last year. It consists of a wood-fired brick oven placed on the chassis of a 1941 Dodge pickup.

The truck made the trip to Iowa for its Iowa City Farmers’ Market May 2 to hungry crowds.

Provender will work the market and be available for catering services, said DeeAnn Grebner who works Provender with husband Chris.

“We’re available for catering, but I don’t know if we’ll be parking and vending on the street,” Grebner said. “I think we’re trying to stick to events like the Farmers’ Market and catering jobs.”

Provender has an ever-changing menu that could feature pizza, burgers, and — for the Farmers’ Market — breakfast foods.

Parked near the intersection of Washington and Gilbert Streets, the line for Provender stretched well into Chauncey Swan Park and hadn’t changed much all morning, Grebner said.

“We’ve been getting hit pretty hard. It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s great to see this on our first day out here. It’s really encouraging.”

Part of the draw to Provender is its unique, vintage look, said customer Mitchell Heydenberk.

“I guess I ate here because it stood out. It’s really recognizable,” Heydenberk said. “As soon as I walked up and saw it, I thought, ‘That looks awesome. I have to try it.’ ”

Provender’s beauty is not just skin-deep. The food is just as much a draw as the vintage look, said customer Haley Murrens. 

“I got the egg sandwich, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect from a wood-fired oven,” Murrens said. “It was so good, I’m going to have to make it back to try something else.”

Food served from Provender is made using local ingredients, Grebner said.

“We source everything locally we possibly can,” Grebner said. “We really believe in supporting local farmers and using their products to create delicious food that people will love.  Provender is a symbol of that.”

Patrons said they were very impressed with the food.

“I got the biscuits and gravy; it was so good it was an almost spiritual experience,” Heydenberk said. “If they filled a bathtub up with that gravy I would hop right in.”

That kind of response is what the Provender crew looks for every time they make food, Grebner said.

“We really care about the food we serve; that’s all we are as a restaurant is our food,” she said. “Keep making delicious food that we’re proud of and keep people coming back for more; that’s the plan.”


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