As long as he can remember, Karle Johnson’s dad has barbecued. “We have barbecue on the Fourth of July, on our birthdays, on New Years,” he said. His dad, Randy Johnson, has spent the past 25 years perfecting sauces passed down from his own father. Now the Little Rock-based father/son duo are taking what Karle has coined “Arkansas style” barbecue on the road.
On February 6, Clyde and Kiddo’s BBQ & More food truck will open at 12605 Alexander Road, and they’ll post their daily location on facebook. All food will be made to order in the mobile kitchen. In addition to spicy and tangy barbecue, Clyde and Kiddo’s will serve burgers, hot dogs, chili, salads and vegetable-based soups.
Karle, 25, describes “Arkansas style” as borrowing from Memphis flavorings. “It’s pork based, slow hickory smoked, with a thin, tomato-based sauce,” he said.
A veteran from the kitchens of Purple Cow and The House, Karle spent a lot of time surfing in south Texas before considering a professional future in food. He studied history and journalism at Texas A&M and UALR, respectively. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But once I moved back to Arkansas and started working at Purple Cow, I decided all I really wanted to do was cook,” he said. He worked his way from soda jerk to cook at the Purple Cow. With the encouragement of Tony Gold, director of Pulaski Tech Culinary School, and his boss, Karle enrolled at Pulaski Tech.
When his father retired from the hospital industry, he and Karle began to kick aound the food truck idea. “If you look at the industry, it’s going in the direction of mobile kitchens,” Karla said. “With the economy and all, we didn’t want to be there tapping our thumbs, waiting for customers to come to us. Now if we don’t have customers, we’ll just drive to a place where we do have customers.”
For Karle, barbecue was a no-brainer. “Everyone has their comfort foods. For us, barbecue is about family. It’s something my dad and I like to do together.”