Called up: Uncle Troy’s BBQ headed to Salem

Troy Campbell, owner of Uncle Troy’s BBQ, hangs out in his food truck on River Road for one of the last times. Uncle Troy’s is moving to the Fork Forty Food Hall in Salem.

The owner of Uncle Troy’s BBQ, Troy Campbell, has a warm and welcoming demeanor with a contagious energy that keeps people coming back. For the past year, he’s been serving barbecue and working to connect with the community in which he lives. Now, it’s time for his next move.

“It’s Fork Forty Food Hall, there’s six vendors there and a full bar in the back. I’ll be taking over one of the stalls there and bringing some barbecue right to the heart of downtown Salem,” Campbell said. “I’ll be able to introduce the downtown Salem area to the kind of barbecue I do.”

With a larger space and more employees, Uncle Troy’s BBQ will undergo rebranding. Instead of focusing only on barbecue Campbell plans to put things like greens, black eyed peas and sweet potato pie on the menu.

“[They] aren’t necessarily always considered barbecue, but it’s still part of my heritage and a part of my history,” Campbell said. Campbell’s grandparents ran Campbell’s BBQ in Portland for almost 20 years, he is expanding the menu to include other Campbell family recipes.

“The other part of it will be acknowledging the different cultures that have influenced the barbecue. We’ll be featuring minorities, and empowering women, female pit masters as well as the males,” Campbell said. The plan is to feature barbecue from Argentina, Africa, the Middle East and everywhere else.

“I’m gonna give you North Carolina ribs, I’m going to give you Santa Maria style tri-tip. I’m going to show people there’s a lot more, but like I said, also acknowledging the different people, acknowledging minorities, acknowledging women in barbecue, acknowledging all the underdogs,” Campbell said.

The other major change to Uncle Troy’s current brand will be the loss of the big yellow truck, which Campbell is selling, though he added a replacement is in the works.

He has only been operating Uncle Troy’s for a little over a year and Campbell has already faced business-closing challenges, namely COVID-19. 

“I don’t want to put out the perception that Uncle Troy’s BBQ is doing great, we could shut down tomorrow just like any other business, and that keeps me on my toes. It keeps me innovative,” Campbell said.

When the shutdown came he made a conscious decision to better himself as a businessman and a person. Through his whole life he’s tried to better himself in the midst of chaos, which 2020 has brought full force.

“It’s almost like a caterpillar to a butterfly thing, you know COVID was the cocoon and when it’s over I have to emerge a better person than when I was going in,” Campbell said. He exercised this thought process during the wildfires and ongoing political unrest as well.

His truck was the first to appear in Keizer’s food pod, but he is confident the pod will live on without him.

“They don’t look to me for guidance and leadership. We look to each other to solve the problems,” Campbell said. The group naturally formed guidelines, that they would be open five days a week for some sort of lunch and dinner. 

Campbell left finding a new truck for Keizer up to the others so that they could find someone who they are comfortable with. He’s heard a few names thrown out as potential replacements, but there is nothing official, yet.

“I could bring someone in here that was great but I don’t know if they would even like them,” Campbell said.

Though he is moving up in the world, Campbell has no plans to abandon the city of Keizer or the community he’s invested in. “I love these people. We all live in Keizer with our families, we all started a business from a dream, my family is still back here. I want to come back and say, ‘Hey,’” he said.

Uncle Troy’s BBQ will be closed for the month of October. Campbell is using the time to revamp his new space and plans to open up for business in the new location in November.

The Fork Forty Food Hall can be found at 440 State Street, in Salem. Follow @UncleTroysBBQ on Facebook and Instagram for updates about his journey.