In today’s age of food truck popularity, looking at Stewart’s Soul Fusion’s food truck with its white exterior and abnormally large window, you don’t realize the years of work and love that led to its existence.
Stewart’s Soul Fusion is run by Moe Stewart and his wife, Desiree Stewart. Named after his family, Stewart’s began as a catering business five years ago. Moe Stewart added a food truck two years ago so he could have a spot for people that offers something that isn’t available in the Eugene area: soul food.
Bringing soul food to Eugene was part of the reason for opening the cart, Stewart says, since the area has been missing it since the closure of Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen and BBQ in 2017, eight years after the death of its namesake Ted “Papa Soul” Lee. And Stewart tells Eugene Weekly that making soul food is a way to pay homage to Papa Soul.
Some menu items include hearty seafood boils, hearty barbeque cuts, thick sandwiches and an assortment of sides ranging from classic to fusion takes on soul food.
Soul food is primarily associated with “down South” and African American culture, Stewart says, but he likes to play with all different kinds of food, from Asian cuisine to Jamaican. This also explains the truck’s rotating menu, featuring different items daily and seasonally.
Some classics on the menu like the soul plate, a plate with an entree and three sides, will always remain on the menu, Stewart says, adding there are so many things that “this town would never know” if he never made them. Their most notable items are their soul classics, like their soul greens (stewed collard greens), pepa chicken and mama’s mac and cheese.
His first official independent food venture was in 2008, when he purchased a barbeque pit and ”just started grinding.” Stewart would park his pit in front of Taboo, a former club on W. 6th Avenue, until 2 am, serving drunk people out of the bar. It was working there that he also met Desiree, now his wife and business partner.
“We were able to evolve, and it’s been a slow process,” Stewart says. “I didn’t always have money to do everything, so it came slow.”
During the pandemic, Stewart says that they receive a “lot of love” from other businesses, like Sweet Tree Farms. Tom McGowan, the dispensary owner, has “been a blessing” by allowing him to park the truck in his parking lot, he says.
“This is my passion so quitting isn’t an option, and we can only go up, hopefully,” Stewart says.
Stewart and his small team are also in the works of launching a podcast. He says he wants to share not just his food, but ideas and advice ranging on topics from music, health and culture.
“We want everyone to be welcome, but at the same time we are a proud African American business and I don’t want to shy away from that at all,” he says. “Anybody that really knows me, they’ll tell you that. It’s culture over everything — I try to be exhibiting that in everything we do. Like our slogan, I mean that.”
Stewart’s Soul Fusion is at 4097 W. 11th Avenue. Hours are noon to 4 pm Wednesday through Saturday. Find it on Facebook to stay updated.