Fans of Bessie’s Sweet Delights can now enjoy the mobile bakery’s luscious desserts — plus a wide menu of Southern and soul food — at even more locations as the company rolls out its new Bessie’s Bites & Sweet Delights food truck across the Midlands this month.

VonGretchen Donawald opened the company as Bessie’s Sweet Delights almost seven years ago, baking from a shared commercial kitchen in Columbia and selling at malls, farmers markets, the state fair and corporate events around the Midlands, in addition to shipping across the country. 

The new venture — operated in partnership with VonGretchen’s husband, Tyrus — allows the business to expand to other areas and introduce the couple’s Southern cuisine beyond sweet treats. Bessie’s Bites & Sweet Delights is a state-of-the-art food truck offering desserts, homestyle and fast foods.

“The menu is pretty eclectic,” Donawald said. “Lots of places have wings, but we serve flavored chicken legs.” She says customers also rave about the vegan “soul rolls” — crispy egg rolls filled with minced and sauteed collard greens and veggies — and the pulled smoked turkey sandwiches.

“We’re a non-pork truck,” Donawald added. “From a health-conscious point, people like that. People hear ‘soul food’ and think it’s not for vegans, but we have several vegan items.”

Other menu options include burgers (including a vegan option), hot dogs, fried chicken tenders, fried shrimp, salads and sides, plus the “sweet delights” — the company’s signature red velvet cake bowls, million dollar pound cake, banana pudding, warm cookies and more.

The Bessie’s Bites & Sweet Delights food truck has barely gotten its wheels on the road, but the business has already started collecting awards. The Donawalds topped 35 vendors to win the $1,000 grand prize for best sweets at last weekend’s Taste of Black Columbia event.

In addition to a regular rotation at area farmers markets and malls, the food truck will start offering Soul Food Sunday dinners the first and third Sundays of each month beginning in June. Customers can preorder from a special Sunday dinner menu or just stop by and pick up meals between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The first Soul Food Sunday is set for June 5 at 311 Blythewood Road.

The food truck also will have several “grand openings” throughout the Midlands in the coming weeks, including at the Iris Festival May 27–29 in Sumter. That area has special meaning to Donawald: It’s where she grew up watching her grandmother, Angeline "Bessie" Sanders-Nelson, operate her own business. The youngest of 16 children, she and her husband built Bargain Fair Variety Store, affectionately known in the community as Nelson's Store, serving everyone — with or without money — for more than 60 years. 

“I learned my sense of hard work, customer service, innovative marketing and business savvy from her,” Donawald said. “I studied with my grandmother and learned how to interact with people, how to make a sale and, most importantly, how to make a lasting impression to keep customers coming back. Her spirit of determination and her love of cooking and baking is why Bessie's Sweet Delights and Bessie's Bites & Sweet Delights will continue to thrive.”

More information on menus, the truck food calendar and catering options is available on the company’s website at https://www.bessiessweetdelights.com or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BessieBites

 

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