Want to eat some authentic Chicago-style sandwiches? Then it’s time to head to “The Middle of Nowhere.”
Nowhere just happens to be located inside a food truck at the intersection of Indiana 19 and 26, sitting miles from any town and surrounded by cornfields.
And owner Staci Haus said nowhere is right where they want to be.
“There’s nothing in any direction for several miles, so I thought it was fitting,” she said.
Haus opened the food truck last week selling favorites from her hometown of Chicago, including Italian beef you can order dry, juicy or totally soaked in au jus. The Big Cheese is the same sandwich topped with cheddar cheese sauce.
Then there’s the iconic Chi-dog that’s been run through the garden. It’s topped with onions, relish, tomatoes, a pickle spear, celery salt and mustard. You can also order a plain dog with your choice of toppings, as well as fries that are hand-cut and fried special for each order.
A random intersection in rural Howard County might seem like an odd place to put a food truck, but Haus said she knew it was the perfect location after driving past it one day.
She said she was unhappy at her job working as a dispatcher and had just pulled a 12-hour shift when she saw a sign at the corner saying the lot was up for lease.
Haus called that moment and asked if she could rent it to start a business there. What business? She didn’t know, but she wanted to open something. The owner agreed she could have it.
Soon after, Haus decided to start a food truck selling the kind of eats she was raised on. Her grandmother was from the Philippines, but was raised in Italy before moving to Chicago. She passed down her recipes to Haus’ mom, who passed it down to her.
“This is coming down from generations,” Haus said, noting her family also owns Beaver Point campground near Windfall.
While her food truck was being built, she decided to start a produce stand at the intersection to meet people and let them know a one-of-a-kind food truck was on its way.
It arrived last month, and on Oct. 3, Haus opened The Middle of Nowhere. Since then, she said, they’ve already had repeat customers, and the reviews have all been nothing but positive. The restaurant has been staying busy the entire time it’s open.
A lot of customers have been local farmers and workers, but there’s been lots of random drivers stopping in as well who just happen to pass by, Haus said.
“The farmers and travelers coming by love that we’re here,” she said. “They’re all really curious, so that’s been fun.”
On Wednesday, Nelson Carlson stopped in to order some food. He said he had noticed it the day before while driving from Elwood to Kokomo, and decided to give it a try.
“I love the idea,” he said. “Food trucks are huge all over the East Coast and West Coast right now, so it’s about time we started getting them here.”
Haus is running the operation with her mom and 14-year-old daughter, who helps out after school. She said they plan on offering specials throughout the week, including Italian sausages and meatballs and maybe ham-and-bean soup in the winter.
For now, Haus said, they’re just taking it day by day and working hard to make their new food truck a success.
“We’re just trying to make my grandparents proud and keep the family legacy strong and serve good food to people,” she said.
Middle of Nowhere is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.