Every Day I’m Brunchin’

Crack of Dawn Food Truck offers elevated fare in South Memphis

Photography by Emma Meskovic

When life hands you strawberries, make incredibly delicious, high-quality brunch items available to a community that lacks them.

Like many of us, Tamara Lee, owner of Crack of Dawn food truck, had to pivot in 2020. She had been working in education, but she took the pandemic as an opportunity to invest her time into her latest purchase—a food truck, which she had bought in hopes of using it to benefit her community.

Before fully committing to the truck, Tamara had operated a catering business for 12 years. Her passion for cooking stems from feeding her friends and family over the years, while learning everything about the culinary world from her grandmother. “I was the oldest of eight,” she says, explaining why she had so many opportunities to cook as she was growing up.

When the pandemic hit, Tamara saw an opportunity to begin feeding her friends, family, and the South Memphis community through Crack of Dawn. Providing high-quality food to a neighborhood considered a food desert was personal.

“I grew up in this community,” she says. “This gave me a reason to come back and serve it.” 

Tamara chose to focus on brunch because there was nowhere nearby that offered it, and her family and friends encouraged it. “Everyone loved my breakfast creations, and at the time, there were really no other breakfast food trucks,” she says. 

The “goods” you can find on the menu include grits, French toast, waffles, flap jacks, omelets, and sandwiches. Their top sellers are the Zooted Grits and the French Connect, a French toast sandwich with your choice of sausage or bacon, egg, and cheese; add  peach cobbler filling to your French Connect, and you are in for a treat. When possible, Tamara shops for produce at the South Memphis Farmers Market, changing her menu seasonally to keep her customers engaged and excited. 

With an average of 40 customers a day—many ordering for entire offices—most patrons call in their orders to go. 

“We hope to find a lot in South Memphis so we can set up picnic tables,” says Tamara. Her typical customer comes from the neighborhood, and she also offers complimentary meals to those displaced in the area. Tamara says that locals in the community know this is a place where you can get a free breakfast if you need it.

Her desire to give back does not stop there.

The original purpose of the food truck was to be a learning lab, and it serves as one today.

Partnering with Triumphant Praise and Worship Ministries, a nearby church, Tamara facilitates a program called The CAAMP (Culinary Arts And Mentoring Program). Every second and fourth Saturday of the month, youth and young adults in the community learn culinary and life skills, using the food truck as a model. They aim to promote productive behaviors and encourage healthy choices beyond traditional educational methods.

When you order from Crack of Dawn, you are not just supporting an entrepreneur; you are supporting a community. And that’s the whipped cream, strawberries, and bananas on top!

Crack of Dawn
765 South Parkway East
Monday – Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Emma Meskovic is a digital content manager, illustrator, and super fan of this publication who loves taking photos of her food. @emmamesk