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Oxford

Local Italian Food Truck Inspires ‘Luv’ for Bagels

By Loden Knotts
Hottytoddy.com intern
laknotts@go.olemiss.edu

The Luv Shack is no longer just a catchy tune, it is also home to the name of the popular bagel and Italian food truck in Oxford. Having always worked in the food industry, Dennis Van Oostendorp moved to Mississippi and quickly developed a passion for bringing a little bit of New York to small-town Mississippi.

Originally from mid-state New York, Oostendorp came to Mississippi in 2010 as he followed his family.

Dennis van Oostendorpis. Photo by Loden Knotts.

“My father used to say that (Mississippi) was the place that you ran out of gas,” said Oostendorp. “My parents came down in 2004, and I joined them to help them grow old.”

Upon his arrival, Oostendorp first had the idea of a New York-style pizzeria—which panned out to be 6 ’N Tubbs—located on the same street (West Oxford Loop) as Luv Shack.

He was the main chef and his mother answered the phones for take-out orders six days a week. When his mother turned 78 five years ago, Oostendorp decided that it was time to start a solo venture in order to preserve his mother’s health and try something new with his extensive culinary skills.

An old Coke machine inside the Luv shack. Photo by Loden Knotts.

Oostendorp started the Luv Shack with the idea of making wholesale New York-style bagels to provide to local coffee shops and restaurants. Whenever that didn’t pan out, he decided to start a bagel truck during lunch hours. Shortly after, a fellow New Yorker and former student at the University pressured him into trying out a dinner menu in order for his food to be more accessible to students.

After talking more to students, he decided to do an Italian menu, serving one dish per day. This way he could make enough of the dish to feed everyone coming in, and also create a daily menu.

“Everybody knows when it is meatball Monday,” Oostendorp said with a smile.

Oostendorp has now extended his menu to Secret Bagel Sunday, a name coined by students due to the trailer being small and off the beaten path. There is also Meatball Monday, Tortellini Tuesday, Wild Card Wednesday, Chicken Parm Thursday, and Penne Friday.

“After a while, it’s not a customer thing,” Oostendorp said. “I think that just taking care of somebody, and then having them come back to make use of my service, every day if that is the case, that is the best deal about it.

“People judge success now on how much money is in their wallets, but my grandfather used to say that you judge success on what people think about you.”

Oostendorp is very well known for his customer service and ability to make customers feel at home right as they walk into Luv Shack.

“Not only is the food great and authentic, but the owner is as welcoming as they come. You’ll come for the food and stay for the company,” said Haley Gorey, a senior at the University of Mississippi and Luv Shack regular.

Walking into Luv Shack, customers are always greeted with a smile from behind the counter and a lively conversation while their food is prepared. Oostendorp is also known for offering customers new suggestions to spice up their choices, such as Taylor ham that he gets from New Jersey – a specialty that no one else in town offers.

He also does not participate in any type of advertising, besides posting his daily menu on his Instagram account.

“People only tell people who will fit in here,” Oostendorp said. “So ultimately Luv Shack is fed to like-minded people, so the circle just gets wider but never gets broken.”

Oostendorp welcomes all customers to his cozy trailer but relies on word of mouth by his faithful customers for his advertising. This has shown to be very effective for him just as it was for 6 ’N Tubbs, his previous business venture.

Although Oostendorp has been a chef for as long as he can remember, he does not have a particularly favorite dish to cook.

“If there is something that I always cook and never get tired of, it would be pizza and brownies,” he said. “(It’s) because I know that I’m always going to sneak myself a slice. Always. It’s never a bad day to have pizza.”

Oostendorp loves what he does and is happy to bring something new to the table in Oxford. Although he still loves the food in New York, he is very happy to have found a place to settle down and live a simple life.

The Luv Shack is open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for bagels. The Luv Shack is located at 2625 W Oxford Loop, behind 6 ’N Tubbs.


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