DURHAM — Although the Food Network doesn't plan to announce the winner of its national food truck contest for another week, Only Burger's co-owners hope to hold on to the top spot they seized once vote tallies began posting at midnight Friday.
Co-owners Brian Bottger and Tom Ferguson, along with a dozen or so friends, gathered at Bottger's house to monitorOnly Burger's first-place position as the top vote getter in the contest associated with the network's first season of "The Great Food Truck Race." The reality TV show features food trucks traveling across the United States in a competition to sell the most food for a $50,000 grand prize.
"We just gathered our friends and staff at my house, and sat there and looked at the computer for about three hours," Bottger said. "And we drank our way through the night. We were still No. 1 until two or three in the morning."
Over the past two weeks, food truck fans could vote up to 10 times a day, via text or on the Food Network website, for their favorite mobile kitchen. Voting ended at midnight Friday.
The truck that received the most votes will win $10,000 and a chance to appear on the network's second season of "The Great Food Truck Race."
The most popular truck is set to be announced on Sept.19 during the show's season finale.
Customers approached Bottger about two months ago and told him they had nominated him for the contest. At first, Bottger said, he didn't think Only Burger had a chance. It was competing with trucks in much bigger cities, such as New York and Los Angeles.
But over the past two weeks, Only Burger, which serves meat, veggie and turkey burgers, moved from fifth to second place. Toward the end of the week, Only Burger traded the first-place spot with Oklahoma City-based Big Truck Tacos.
By Friday morning, Only Burger moved into the top spot, where it remained into early Saturday.
"We celebrated like we won," Bottger said.
Meanwhile, customers who flocked to the Only Burger after it parked just outside the Durham Farmers Market on Saturday morning, said over the past two years the white truck with maroon lettering has evolved into a community icon.
"It is a symbol of Durham. It's like the Bulls," saidRonelle Rode, 28, of Durham, after ordering the Only Burger special - a pimento cheese burger with fried green tomatoes and a fried egg. Lisa Jolliff, who is visiting Durham for the weekend from Newton, Kan., supported that statement after showing up at the Farmers Market on a search for Only Burger.
"I found them on a list online," said Jolliff, 45. "It said this is what you have to do in Durham."
firstname.lastname@example.org or 251-923-6630