A Taste of Heart & Soul
By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
The soul of a business is often depicted in a logo. And that’s the case for Uncle Moe’s Soul Food Truck, which, on any given day, rolls into Gettysburg or throughout the region—from Frederick, Md., to Chambersburg, Hanover to Fairfield.
Eldridge “Moe” Moses walks to the side of his bright red food truck and stands beside the logo—a circle containing hands, stretched upward toward a blue sky, clouds, and a sunburst.
“When praises go up, blessings come down,” says Moses. “I prayed and asked God to give me a vision because I always wanted to have my own business—and He showed it to me. My truck is red because I’m representing the blood of Jesus.”
The “soul” in Uncle Moe’s Soul Food has a double meaning.
“People see ‘soul food’ on our sign and they think it’s about the food, but it really means that everything we do and everything that comes out of this trailer is good for the soul, just like God is good because I trusted in this vision,” Moses says.
Reading Uncle Moe’s menu is like reading his family tree. All of the recipes hail from the southern kitchens of his parents, aunts, and uncles.
“I was raised in Louisiana, so I’m an old country boy,” Moses says. “We basically lived off the land. I have three brothers, and my dad taught us how to fish—how to catch the fish, rig the line, how to clean the fish, how to cook the fish—but he didn’t have a problem teaching us how to eat the fish!”
Moses must have paid attention to those early life lessons, because catfish is his food truck’s most popular item. At The Great Frederick Fair last year, he sold 3,200 pounds of catfish over nine days.
We caught up with Moses on a Friday afternoon at the York Street (Route 30) Sunoco station. It’s one of his regular locations, and he typically sells about 70 pounds of catfish. Amid the pandemic, he’s putting tasty into takeout.
“A lot of people say, ‘That’s the best catfish I ever had,’” Moses shares. “One reason is [because]the fish we’re selling today, I just got it in yesterday, and that’s what makes the fish taste so good. Fresh is the best.”
Cajun seasoning gives it a kick. And no matter what you choose for your sides, you can’t go wrong: collard greens (“I learned how to make those from my mom,” says Moses), mac and cheese (“That’s another item people say is the best they ever had,” he says), or red beans and rice (“Made with Vidalia sweet onions, just like I learned from my mom,” he explains).
His portion sizes are generous, as if you’d pulled a chair right up to his kitchen table. “We love to serve people because this is how we feed people at home,” he says. “Some people say, ‘What do you put in your food?’ and I say, ‘I put love in it. Everything we make is blessed.’”
The food truck’s menu is surprisingly extensive—additional items include a tasty Italian sausage sandwich, flavorful crab cakes, generous chicken tenders, Caribbean jerk chicken that originated with Moses’ Jamaican brother-in-law, and Moses’ BBQ pulled pork.
“His food is phenomenal,” says repeat customer Erica Feaga of Gettysburg. “The mac and cheese is to die for, the jerk chicken is amazing, the collards are fantastic—just like the south, where I last lived.”
Teamwork Makes It Happen
At 61, Moses jokes that he’s busier now running the food truck during his retirement years than when he worked full time as a supervisor at Evapco in Taneytown, Md., for 25 years. He also served in the U.S. Army for nine years.
But for the past 11 years, Uncle Moe’s Soul Food has been his sole focus. The business is so popular that he regularly operates two trucks, especially during busy weekends—pre- (and hopefully post-) COVID-19—for regional festivals and events.
Staffing is a family affair and includes his father-in-law Leroy Townsend (his “right-hand man”), along with son Tory Moses (profiled in our September/October 2020 issue), daughter Dorian, stepsons, nieces, and nephews.
“People from all types of different backgrounds, all races, come together and enjoy the food—it’s definitely something that brings people together,” says Tory Moses.
“I like the work, and I like working with him,” says Townsend. “We’re family and we take care of each other—it’s as simple as that. We support each other, and we have a job to do.”
Watching Townsend and Moses operate inside the truck is like watching a choreographed dance number. The men work in the confined space, calling out orders, anticipating each other’s movements, opening the oven and refrigerator, stirring, flipping, and preparing meals through teamwork.
And teamwork is something Moses knows all about. He’s coached basketball and football in the community since his kids were young—and he still serves as coach of Gettysburg High School’s football team. On this particular Friday afternoon he had to leave the truck by 3 p.m. so he could board the bus with his team to make an evening game.
But before he left, he was asked to reflect on what the business means to him. Moses had to take a minute, fighting back tears, before answering.
“I’m the one who asked God for this business … to have my family here with me, walking through the challenges every day—it’s a blessing. They never say no,” he says. “I can’t thank the community enough for supporting us, and I can’t thank God enough for sending them to us.”
Uncle Moe’s Soul Food