RICHLAND -- Feeling like a burger when you're out on the Columbia River?
Floatin' Foodies has you covered.
You can float up to the Wilson family's pontoon boat at the west end of Columbia Park and choose from an all-American menu of burgers, hot dogs and barbecue, plus shaved ice to help keep cool.
Terry and Joanna Wilson and their boys already were spending their weekends boating on the Columbia before starting Floatin' Foodies.
"But there was not any food on the river," Joanna Wilson said.
They solved that by converting a triple-pontoon boat into a floating food truck.
Last year they cruised the Columbia River from the mouth of the Snake River to Howard Amon Park in Richland. But it was difficult for customers to find the food boat when they were hungry.
"This year we decided to stay in one location," Joanna said. "Everyone knows where we are."
That also allows them to serve walk-up traffic from the dock on one side of the pontoon and float-in traffic from the other side of the pontoon. Orders can be called in to 509-987-2522 to be ready when boats arrive.
The boat is equipped with a restaurant-style kitchen in 30 feet that Terry installed by taking the top off of the pontoon.
It has a hand-washing station, refrigeration, a six-foot grill, sandwich stations with ice troughs, three-compartment sinks and a bar up front to display chips and drink selections.
But unlike a regular restaurant, the Wilsons have to provide their own electricity and water and have to "set up and break down" every day. Items have to be put away to prevent them from blowing out when they drive to and from the dock, Joanna said.
Their most popular hot dog is the Chipotle Dog, with chipotle slaw, pico de gallo, red pepper aioli, cilantro and lime. Burgers can be dressed up with a range of toppings from Blazin' BBQ Sauce to herb aioli. The current special is a barbecue pulled-pork sandwich.
Sauces are made by the Wilsons, drawing on Terry and Joanna's decades of experience in the restaurant business, and hot dogs are cut into spirals to give lots of places for the sauce to sink in.
Hot dogs range from $4 to $6 and burgers range from $8 to $10, with chips and drink extra.
It's a true family business, with the three Wilson sons pitching in. Timmy, 11, is in charge of the shaved ice, and Josh, 13, specializes in putting the burgers and hot dogs together. Christian Ille, 20, is in the Marine Reserves in California, but helps out during visits.
Since Floatin' Foodies docked on the Columbia, the Wilsons often hear from customers, "Oh my gosh, that was my idea," Joanna said. She encourages them to go ahead and give it a try.
Floatin' Foodies is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until the food runs out, which is usually about 6 or 7 p.m., but sometimes later. It docks at the marina near Bateman Island in Richland.