Native Eats pop-up serves tradition with a flair


Sadie Helmick

Tim Watson (left) and Chris Wood (right) preparing a buffalo taco at their pop-up shop at Huntington Cycle and Sport.

After a night of driving through Pikeville, Kentucky, Tim Watson had an idea that eventually lead to the creation of Native Eats, a Native American taco stand. With the Shawnee Indian heritage that came from his grandmother, Watson met with his business partner, Chris Wood, and began making the idea a reality.

“I had heard stories that the Native Americans had actually invented the taco-the Navajo taco, and that idea just started churning in my head,” Watson said.

Wood created their signature hot sauce and barbeque sauce featuring wojobi, a traditional Native American dish. Wood and Watson began selling their signature sauces at vender sales and sold out at their first two sales.

“Our first vender sale was at a carnival-themed event at Saint Joe and I didn’t think we were going to be that big of a hit, but we sold out,” said Watson.

With success among the sauces and future intentions of expanding into a food truck, Native Eats began working to find a temporary home.

“We want to do a food truck and pop-ups, where we can cater to people,” said Watson.

Wood and Watson take up shop Saturdays at Huntington Cycle and Sport located on 1010 10th Street from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

After speaking with the owner of Huntington Cycle and Sport, Watson immediately thought “TCB.”

“TCB- Taking care of business. Tacos, coffee and bikes,” Watson said.

Watson was careful when branding Native Eats. He took precautions by reaching out to members of Native American tribes to get approval of the food and the branding of the company.

“We are paying homage to Native American culture. I have sent emails to people of Native American culture and they all have been very kind and fully support us,” said Watson. “We aren’t doing anything undignified.”

All ingredients that Native Eats serve can be tracked down within a 50-mile radius of Huntington.

“Everything we do is handmade. The only thing that don’t make is the glass bottles we sell the sauces in, we get everything else local. Everything we can possibly get comes from no farther than 50 miles away.”

Native Eats serves a variety of tacos, including buffalo, chicken and turkey tacos for $8 each. The signature hot sauce can be found at Tulsi at The Market.

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Huntington transplants Adam and Liz Schindzielorz enjoyed the local ingredients and artisanal quality.

“They are really good. I really like that they have nice, quality ingredients and it’s local, its very cool,” Liz Schindzielorz said.

“To have something this freshly made and of this quality in-town is something very special. We often didn’t have something like this down in Raleigh, North Carolina, where we come from, or at least this artisanal,” Adam Schindzielorz said.

Sadie Helmick can be contacted at [email protected].