When Jill Elsey-Stoner, owner of Turners Station Mercantile, decided to bring in a food truck on Tuesday nights, she wanted to give herself a break and support another small business.
Elsey-Stoner was cooking three meals a day at her restaurant and was exhausted. After one season, that food truck moved away and so she brought in another. Slowly, new additions turned into a full-blown event.
Now in its fifth season, Tuesday Food Truck Night at Turners Station has become a popular destination. When the weather is nice, you’ll find over 100 people bringing their lawn chairs, blankets and pop-up tables to spread out on Elsey-Stoner’s land.
“It’s been fantastic,” she says. “The pandemic was horrific for food businesses, and food trucks were not immune. I’m supporting small businesses. Food trucks have followers, and so people who never would have come here have been introduced to us, too.”
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Turners Station Mercantile opened in 1889 and is one of the last remnants of what was once a thriving railroad town, located just a few miles east of Springfield. Elsey-Stoner is a sixth generation Turners descendant.
Turners Station is known for its handmade deli sandwiches and daily hot lunch plate. It is still open during food truck night, so some families come in to get sandwiches if their kiddos don’t like what is being served outside. The shop also sells candy and locally made crafts.
There are four trucks each week, and two are staples: Bub’s Distillery, which serves cocktails with their handcrafted spirits, and Gala Occasions Desserts, known for its lemon pie, fried pie, cookies, Hawaiian bread and more. Two new trucks rotate in each week, which Elsey-Stoner used to seek out, but now they come to her. Today, she works with 20 different vendors.
“We pull people from everywhere. It’s really fun. It has become date night, family night,” Elsey-Stoner says. “It’s a lot of work but I love it. I’ve wanted to do this since before I was in kindergarten.”
Tuesday Food Truck Night is from 5 to 7pm, every Tuesday into November at Turners Station. Do not park close to the railroad tracks; park on the gravel closest to the road.
Turners Station, 6484 Farm Road 148, Turners, Missouri, 417.880.1242, www.facebook.com/TurnersMO