King’s Sandwich Shop Celebrates 75 Years With a New Set of Wheels

King’s Sandwich Shop Celebrates 75 Years With a New Set of Wheels

The traditional lunchtime spot for many Durhamites now offers a catering and events division thanks to its Airstream that's been outfitted with a kitchen

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For 75 years, King’s Sandwich Shop has served classic burgers, hot dogs, chili and fries out of its modest-size takeout stand at the corner of Geer and Foster. A traditional lunch spot for many of Durham’s longtimers, King’s is celebrating this milestone by expanding the business in a unique fashion: adding wheels.

The wheels belong to a 31-foot Airstream, specifically, which has been outfitted as a kitchen thanks to help from The Young Roofing Company. An extension of the brick-and-mortar, the Airstream allows King’s to now offer a catering and events division, a partnership between King’s owner TJ McDermott and Hud Giles, an old college friend. TJ, who bought King’s from the original owners in 2009, kept much of its early menu the same – easy, since he actually found it behind the restaurant’s original sign when he was doing renovations before re-opening the space in 2010. He and Hud, a former corporate marketer for various automobile companies like McLaren and Mercedes-Benz, came up with the idea for the Airstream last year.

TJ and Hud are proud to have the Airstream based in Durham. “We understand that we have a unique link to the past through King’s Sandwich Shop; we want to share it with more people out there.”

While the mobile menu is currently very similar to that of the shop – “we wanted to stick to the old-fashioned, hand-pattied hamburgers,” TJ says – this added kitchen space allows for experimentation with more vegetarian and gluten-free items as well as new specialty sandwiches. Hud’s current favorite reminds him of NYC: “Bruschetta, fresh mozzarella and basil, tomato, olive oil, balsamic, and it’s on this super wonderful ciabatta bun.”

HERE’S A TIP!

Follow @KingsSandwichShop on Instagram and Facebook for the most up-to-date information on where you can spot the #Kingstream in our community!

Although the Airstream has a strong nostalgic bend, it’s really allowing King’s to modernize, too. “We’re going for kind of a late ’50s, rockabilly energy, but with a 2017 progressive identity,” Hud says. “We aspire to be part of an experience as opposed to simply feed people.” When it comes to private events, King’s Mobile can provide a relatively “turnkey” experience. TJ explains: “If you want the tent set up, we can do that. We can do the tables, the games – from corn hole to pingpong to giant Jenga – even if you want to do a milkshake station or something like that, we can do that as well.” Thanks to a new website being built by Duke grad Chase Olivieri – who “basically is bringing King’s into all things modern as it pertains to technology,” TJ says – you’ll soon be able to book King’s Mobile online.

In the meantime, experience the #Kingstream for yourself at Bull City Ciderworks August 5.


 • DRAW

Bruschetta and mozzarella sandwich – Hud’s favorite – and tots. Photo by Briana Brough

Hot dogs, hamburgers and much more served out of a shiny Airstream trailer, King’s Mobile is very much a throwback to another era, but incorporates modern-day amenities and entertainment like lawn games, audio-visual setup, music, a tent – they bring the party wherever they park.

• DRAWBACK

As with any mobile food venture, you can’t control the weather! But King’s Mobile can help with a tent, to lessen the effect of a sudden downpour or hot, muggy weather.

• PRICE

$6-$12

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Amanda MacLaren
Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Ariz., she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for five years now. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Chubby’s.