With its flashing lights and delicious aroma, it's hard not to be drawn in.
Jack Stone's, a new carryout restaurant located behind Durham Bike on Pettee Brook Lane, offers a "delicious alternative to healthy food" to students and residents of Durham. Its food selection ranges from deep-fried hot dogs topped with mac ‘n cheese to the bacon dog to pizza rolls--the only thing you won't find on the menu is a salad.
Owners Christopher Parece and Daniel MacNeil are both former UNH students who made a living as bartenders until now.
"We wanted to open a bigger restaurant, but we couldn't because of the economy," said Parece. "So we went as small as we could. Food carts are the new trend, they're all over New York City."
Jack Stone's is housed in a small trailer that the owners built themselves. Resembling a trailer one would find at a carnival, it is decorated with red and white lights that blink and flash. It is an attraction that lights up the night. Although the new joint serves a few customers for dinner, it has made most of its money from students' late night snack cravings on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Its hours, once 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. on the weekends, are now from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. "We can't afford to lose our profits," Parece said.
Jack Stones' food is affordable and good, according to students. Good, however, equals tasty, not necessarily healthy. Depending on the restaurant's success, its owners may or may not add some healthier foods to their menu.
Dr. Joanne Burke, a nutrition professor at UNH, says that in the college environment, cheaper food is easy to entice a customer with. "But, healthy can and should also taste good," Burke said. "Though healthy sometimes is perceived as more expensive, the positive investment in long-term health is often underestimated by the consumer."
The university, through the dining halls and other restaurants on campus like the Dairy Bar, promotes healthy, accessible food for students and community members alike.
But students can't resist Jack Stone's. Andrew Burger, a student at UNH, lives in an apartment by Phi Kappa Theta and goes to the trailer almost every day for food.
"It's convenient because it's so close to me and good," Burger said. "Good, but not good for you. I work out all the time and I'm in college so I don't care that much. I've got the rest of my life to worry about that." The students surrounding him probably had the same mindset, as their hotdogs quickly disappeared from their paper plates.
Parence and MacNeil plan to move the business into a new building that starts construction this upcoming June. The older building that now holds Durham Bike will be taken down, and in its place will come an apartment and room for bigger businesses. By starting out small, the owners hope they can eventually move into the new building. The delicious food, in contrast with the local movement to go "green" and eat healthier, has been bringing in customers so far.
"If you go along with what everyone else does, how are you supposed to be successful?" Parece asked as he poured French fries into a Fryalator. "Didn't your mother ever teach you that?"