Darrick and Pia Vereen and Pia’s sisters Danielle and Sonjue Gerald introduced something new to the area when they opened their food truck in Tabor City some weeks ago. They had their grand opening March 1, but their big kickoff was Super Bowl Sunday. The wings weren’t flying, but they were fast tracking, leaving the food truck as crowds picked up ordered and pre-ordered food to satisfy their families and friends on the most important TV sports day of the year.
No one I’ve talked to had ever heard of a deep fried ham hock until then, but now it’s one of the most popular items on their extensive menu, served with or without one of Darrick’s special sauces.
Darrick said he had a previous partnership with someone in a wing shack in Tabor City, “but we went in different directions on how the business should go, so I left the business. Some years went by, our children were born and God opened a door for us to go back in business and pursue my passion.”
Darrick and Pia were both born and raised in Tabor City. He graduated from Tabor City High School and went into the Army for five years. He and Pia developed a relationship through their mothers, who were best friends.
“Darrick asked me for a date at the barber shop and I was going to say no,” Pia said. “His stepson was with him and Darrick told him to tell me I should go out with his daddy. And we’ve been together every day since. God is good.”
Darrick invented the fried ham hock. He said he likes to cook and wanted to try something southern people would like. He admits it’s a unique dish, but says he gets orders as early as 8:30 a.m. “but we don’t open until 11 a.m.”
Pia says they not only call, but come by and order in advance, then come back to pick up their orders later.
Darrick says he makes all of the sauces for the wings, chicken tenders, ham hocks, etc., and he has a wide variety. Among the favorites is Honey Barbecue, a mixture that contains Carolina Treat barbecue sauce. He also makes sauces to sell.
They often hear comments like “Nobody in this area has wings like that.” He said when he was in Lumberton he had customers come from as far as Brunswick and Horry counties “and they got upset when we took a day off.”
The food truck is located in the lot where IGA grocery store and Walgreens are off Fifth Street, at the corner closest to town. They are open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The name of the food truck business is Never The Less Buffalo Wings, a name Darrick thought of while in Sunday school about 10 years ago. The teacher used the expression and he liked it, relating it to “God is a Never The Less God and He will never turn his back on you. He said he and Pia were thinking of names and Coast to Coast Buffalo Wings had been mentioned, but Never The Less just stuck with him and Pia also liked it.
“It’s been a blessing,” he said. “We’ve really been blessed. One lady pulled up in the center lane in front of the truck, blew us a kiss and yelled, “My wings were wonderful and I will be back.” Another customer said they smelled the food from the IGA and just couldn’t leave without getting some.
Darrick said they work hard to satisfy their customers. “We tell them if anything is wrong, please let us know so we can make it up to them,” he said. “We just thank everybody for supporting us to make it a success. We are proud of the quality of food and service we provide.”