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Cook finds her calling with new Cedar Rapids food truck

Try Asian, Mexican and soul food at The Lickin’

Shrimp fried rice at The Lickin’ food truck in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sunday, April 23, 2023. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)
Shrimp fried rice at The Lickin’ food truck in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sunday, April 23, 2023. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Some restaurateurs dream of their own place as soon as they’re old enough to help in the kitchen; others grow up in the family business.

But one new food truck owner is showing that it’s never too late to discover your talents.

As she cooked more and more for her nine foster children at home in recent years, the reactions of Kassandra Webb’s kids were encouraging.

“I didn’t know I had the gift of cooking, but during the COVID era I had to figure out what to consume my time with,” said Webb, owner of The Lickin’.

But after years of feeling insecure as a cook for her family and church, she made some of her signature spring rolls with ginger sauce for an event her sister hosted. That reaction let her know she was harnessing something bigger.

Her new food truck, opened April 15, is named after the reactions her food has garnered in recent years from the clean plate club her children became enthusiastic members of.

Starting as a side business while she works full-time as a project manager for Transamerica, Webb’s pursuit of a new food truck is a hope to find a different kind of joy in work as she delivers that joy to others in tangible ways. At age 50, it’s a passion project born after a year of private catering with the potential to become something more.

“I want to start cooking foods where you’re not just eating to eat, but you’re eating for enjoyment, savoring the flavors,” Webb said.

If you go

What: The Lickin’ food truck

Where: The parking lot of 279 Collins Rd. NE in Cedar Rapids (formerly a Hy-Vee next to Lindale Mall)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Website: See the menu on Facebook

Phone: (319) 210-5660

The menu

With a fusion of Mexican, Asian and soul food, there’s a little bit for everyone during the truck’s open weekend hours.

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Webb’s most popular signatures include her shrimp fried rice, her spring rolls with tilapia and her burritos. With recent vacancies in the Cedar Rapids soul food market, her fried fish may also garner attention.

“A lot of times, when you’re with a group of people, everybody may want something different. That’s where I came from with the concept,” Webb explained.

If you’ve never tried a fish spring roll — given the rarity of that meat choice for spring rolls — Webb concedes it’s an unusual choice. But for repeat customers, it’s a gamble that has paid off. With tilapia cooked in olive oil, cabbage, an all-purpose spice blend and a potent ginger sauce, it’s a flavor profile known to bring many back for seconds with her catering.

She said her burritos stand out from the crowded Mexican food scene in Cedar Rapids with a heavy hand for her proprietary cumin spice blend. Burritos, quesadillas and tacos are available with steak or chicken with balancing vegetables, rice, homemade salsa and more.

“I use a lot more seasoning to really enhance the flavor of either the meat or the burrito or taco,” Webb said. “When you’re eating the food, you taste nothing but goodness.”

The menu will continue to evolve as the food truck’s base grows. After establishing a Cedar Rapids presence, Webb hopes to make appearances in Iowa City, Waterloo and Des Moines.

Why now?

With a substantial investment in a risky industry, Webb is putting her money where her mouth is to serve food she believes in. With Cedar Rapids’ only cloud kitchen under temporary closure, the food truck was the most prudent way for her to enter the market.

“When you eat something good, your whole persona and everything changes,” she said. “To see that expression on somebody’s face, it makes me feel really good.”

Inspired by her father’s construction business approach that gave chances to others picked over in the job market, Webb eventually hopes to employ people from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to make their start in the restaurant industry.

“Being able to give that person a life, being able to encourage that person ... that’s actually my goal,” she said.

Comments: (319) 398-8340;