Apr 19, 2014
Kim Rivers

Klyde Warren Park freezes out new food truck operators

DALLAS — Is Klyde Warren Park, with its huge crowds, playing favorites with food trucks?

News 8 has found the park almost never rotates in new trucks, leading some truck operators to complain that they’re locked out of the popular deck park and the potential for big profits.

Linh Quach, operator of the BobaFreeze truck, gets a brain freeze wondering why she can’t sell her natural fruit smoothies at Klyde Warren Park. She says her product is an alternative to sugary cupcakes and ice cream.

“I just think it’s really important to have a healthy initiative for the city, especially in the food truck industry,” said Quach.

Maybe, but the deck park says it’s not interested in bringing in new vendors because it’s got a good thing going.

News 8 has learned Klyde Warren Park collects 10 percent of the all revenue from the handful of trucks that serve its park patrons, and only one new truck has been allowed to park there in the last 18 months.

By comparison, the nearby ATT Performing Arts Center collects no fees from trucks and allows a large number to rotate through.

“It’s not that hard,” said Jeremy Scott, who runs Tutta’s Pizza. He is also locked out of Klyde Warren.

Scott says the 10 percent fee is fair because it covers the park’s cost of administering its food truck program. But excluding trucks that are qualified to handle large crowds is bad business, he says.

“I think that if we could get into Klyde Warren Park, it would be advantageous to our business, absolutely. Having a rotation of trucks in there would be valuable to the park as well,” Scott said.

Park personnel were not available for an on-camera interview Friday. Linh Quach hopes one day they will be available to let her sell smoothies at the park.

“We just kind of get the same story that everyone else is probably getting — that there’s a long waiting list,” Quach said.

A waiting list that feels, to her, more like a polite way of being frozen out.

E-mail: dschechter@wfaa.com

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Apr 19, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food truck sees a crowd in Jacksboro – WBIR

As the city of Knoxville begins its one year pilot program for food trucks, other East TN towns have gotten a head start, and they are seeing results. 4-18-14

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Apr 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Homeless man thwarts food cart robbery

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A local who regularly donates extra meals to those in need was rewarded when a homeless man reported a robbery at his food cart.

When a woman broke into Gharib Abb’s Elmasry food cart near SW 3rd Ave. and Washington St. early Friday morning, a man sleeping nearby called Abb at home.

“He comes here sometimes, I feed him, take care of him.”

“He was my hero this morning, I gave him a $20 reward,” he said.

“As soon as he found out someone had broken through the door, he sneaked out and called me.”

Police were able to arrest the woman, who had cut the lock on the food cart off and stolen the cash box, on her way out of the cart pod.

“She went straight to the outlet of my security camera and unplugged all of them,” he said.

Abb said Friday marks the first time his cart has been broken in to. Regardless, he said he will be installing a tougher lock, and taking the cash box home from now on.

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Apr 19, 2014
Tim Lester

‘Street Food Season’ begins with a bang, more than 5000 attend inaugural event …

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The city of Huntsville kicked off the inaugural “Street Food Season” with a bang, drawing in more than 5,000 attendees to A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard for the event. 

The Street Food Season kickoff is one of the first large public gatherings in the Meridian Arts Entertainment District, the smaller of two downtown districts with relaxed open-container rules created last summer

Other public street food gatherings are scheduled for the third Friday of May, June, July, August, September and October at parking lots in the Meridian and Quigley arts and entertainment districts.

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Apr 19, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Brewvana: the early days (two years ago…)

brewvana_lead.jog.jpg

By JOHN FOYSTON
Photography by ROSS WILLIAM HAMILTON

Merry Prankster Ken Kesey was hard-nosed about it: You were either on
the bus or off the bus. Ashley Rose Salvitti offers some wiggle room
for beer tourists on the Brewvana
bus: “OK, everybody,” she says over the reggae soundtrack as she’s
about to wheel the bus away to another pub, “raise your hand if you
aren’t here.”

Which is to say, sure, you could save a few bucks and not hop aboard
Angel, the Brewvana bus. You could organize your own brewery tour. But
it wouldn’t be the same.

For one thing, you wouldn’t have the company of Brewvana owner
Salvitti, a young woman who combines effervescence with clipboard-toting
efficiency, who makes the bus run on time and who can effortlessly
wrangle a load of boisterous beer tourists. Nor could you enjoy the
comforts of Angel, with its city/skyscape interior mural, its onboard
refrigerator, handmade pretzel necklaces for all and a cup holder at
each seat for your Brewvana souvenir pilsner glass.

You wouldn’t be able to pull up to a closed pub such as Pints
on a Sunday morning and be met by brewer Zack Beckwith for a tour of
his new brewery followed by tastes of his beers. Nor would Fire on the Mountain
brewer Ben Nehrling likely join you for a lunch of pizza and hot wings
and narrate the procession of pitchers being delivered to the table
while talking about his career in the Oregon beer scene.

“We’re really connected with the brewers and pubs,” says Salvitti.
“We want them to be pumped when the Brewvana bus pulls up.” From what I
saw on a recent tour, Salvitti has handily achieved her goal. “She’s
great to work with,” said Ben Love, who opened the then-unfinished Gigantic Brewing
for the tour. “She does such a great job planning her tours and she’s
so easy to work with — she makes it clear what she expects and what we
can expect from her. Plus I love her enthusiasm. She’s great.”

brewvana_secondary2.jpg

Brewvana is a relative newcomer: Salvitti held her first tour just a
year ago, but she and Nikki Muir, her other tour guide/driver and only
employee, have found a niche as evangelists of Portland beer culture.
“We love providing the complete experience,” Salvitti says. “Hop on the
bus and don’t worry about anything. We’ll make sure that lunch is
ordered and ready when we arrive at the lunch stop. We’ll make sure that
beers are ready to sample.”

Left to their own devices, beer tourists can find Portland a daunting
city. With four dozen breweries and brewpubs, we have an embarrassment
of riches. Where to start? A string of five-star reviews on sites such
as TripAdvisor suggest that booking a Brewvana tour is the best move:
“Ever been in a town and not known anybody?” writes one customer from
Los Gatos, Calif. “Brewvana solves that problem and introduces you to
unique microbreweries in the process. Ashley gives the new-to-Portland
person the opportunity to meet fellow beer lovers and connect with the
premier microbreweries of Portland in the process. Pass this one up and
you will be a beer novice forever.”

Salvitti is relatively new to Portland herself. She moved here in
April 2007 from Greensboro, N.C., where she earned a degree in art with a
minor in psychology — she wanted to become an art therapist, and still
may. Soon after arriving in town, she hired on as a server at Laurelwood
for a year, then went to Hopworks when it opened in 2008, and still works there.

Her beer background and her hard-wired enthusiasm equip her well as a
tour guide. “We love converting those people who think they don’t like
beer,” she says. “Really, they just haven’t found a beer they like and
it’s exciting to introduce to them to different styles, like the sour
and barrel-aged beers at Cascade Barrel House — those are beers that even wine drinkers love.”

Salvitti reckons that her weekend “Behind the Scenes” and “Imbibing”
tours are about 75 percent out-of-towners, but she offers plenty for
local beer fans, too. There are overnight excursions to beer festivals,
brewery parties, tours of beer scenes in Corvallis, Eugene or Astoria,
and monthly Connoisseur Tours led by a different professional brewer
each time.

A home brewer from the Oregon Brew Crew
led a recent tour designed for people who want to brew their own beer.
If you love craft-distilled whiskey, there’s a whiskey-and-beer tour,
too. You can even opt for the Build Your Own Tour and create your dream
excursion by deciding where you want to go and what you’d like to do at
each location, Salvitti says.

Whatever the tour, trust that it’ll be conducted with that trademark
Salvitti enthusiasm, which, along with a cooler of beer, was enough to
keep the party going when Angel broke down on a recent trip to the
coast.

“A good friend of mine didn’t like me at first because she thought I
was a fake,” she says. “She thought nobody could be that positive all
the time. But that’s just the way I am, especially now, because I love
what I’m doing — interacting with people and helping them discover good
beer.”

brewvana_secondary.jpg

A Tour for Every Type

The Brewvana bus  is just one of several brewery tours offered in Portland. Options range from the venerable Portland Brew Bus, which first rolled in 1996, to the historically minded Bridges Brews tours from Portland Tours. There’s also the Portland Microbrewery Tour from Eco Tours of Oregon and more.

If you want to really learn about brewing as you sample beer, book a Pubs of Portland Tour
with home brewer and brewery consultant Marc Martin, who’ll take you to
pubs via MAX trains and streetcars, and who brings along samples of
hops and barley.

And if you want to stay active on your tour, grab a bike helmet and take a seat aboard the 16-person, pedal powered Portland Pedalounge, or join the Pedal Bike Tours Brewery Trail peloton. If you want to leave wheels of all kinds behind, check out the Portland Walking Tours Beervana Tour.

johnnytastes.JPG

– John Foyston

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Apr 19, 2014
Kim Rivers

The Healthy Food Truck Initiative hosted its first panel on Thursday

Healthy usually
doesn’t describe food trucks.

Yet the
masterminds behind local food trucks Chez Yasmine and Schmear It convened last
night to discuss the challenges and rewards of serving healthy fast food.

The Healthy Food
Truck Panel was held in Huntsman Hall and drew in nearly 75 students. College and Wharton junior Robert Hsu and Wharton sophomore Jessica Chen organized the panel as part of the Healthy Food Truck Initiative, an organization that they co-founded. The two
food trucks, along with Magic Carpet, have been working with Philadelphia
Healthy Food Initiative to offer and advertise healthier options since fall.

Over the past
year, HFT has fostered relationships with Chez Yasmine’s owner Jihed Chehimi and Schmear
It’s owner Dave Fine, a 2011 College graduate. HFT does not
have specific criteria for the food trucks that they partner with, but
according to Chen, “We do all the reaching out. We have an idea of which food trucks are healthy.” 

Before Chehimi
opened Chez Yasmine, he worked in a research lab and enjoyed lunch from food
trucks for 20 years. His
familiarity with food trucks inspired him to take a different approach.

“Healthy, clean
and different. I didn’t want to
sell hot dogs,” Chehimi said.

Chehimi offers a
Swedish Berry Salad, which earns its finishing flair from fresh mint and rose
water. He also serves quinoa, a
grain that is “the best you  can eat in terms of health.”

When Chipotle
and Sweetgreen became successful on Penn’s campus, Schmear It’s Fine noticed that people
were willing to pay more for quality food. Fine saw that a niche for
Schmear It and envisioned it as part of Penn’s array of food trucks. However, both Chehimi and Fine admit
that the biggest challenge is balancing cost with fresh, healthy
ingredients.

“I think when
you’re trying to offer healthy options, they are more expensive. Sometimes they are reflected in the
prices, but [the customers] recognize it as a special offering they can’t get
elsewhere,” Fine said.

Schmear It
offers vegan cream cheese, a “veggie delight schmear” and Greek yogurt cream
cheese, but the cream cheese is not the only ingredient that can get a healthy makeover. Customers can request that bagels be
scooped out — having the bulk of the dough removed to reduce calories while maintaining
the shell, as well as the idea, of eating a bagel. 

Fine said that the option to scoop out a bagel is
“polarizing, like to toast or not to toast.”

The Healthy Food Truck Initiative, which is Penn-affiliated through Campus Health Initiatives, was launched by Hsu and Chen last March. The panel was the first campus event for HFT, which collaborated with MUSE and Phi Gamma Nu and received funding from the Social Impact Advisory Board of Wharton Social Impact Initiative. The event was to feature Magic Carpet as well, but the owner was unable to attend.

According to Ashlee Halbritter, Health Educator of Campus Health Initiatives, Hsu was volunteering with Campus Health when he developed the idea to improve eating habits by targeting local food trucks.

“Robert really took an idea to an actual thing. He started out doing surveys on his own and figuring out how often Penn students eat at food trucks,” Halbritter said.

Hsu then presented data to the truck owners. Respondents’ top three suggestions for healthy eating at food trucks were healthier meals and options, displayed nutritional information and cleanliness. Three-quarters of survey respondents stated that they would perceive a food truck more favorably if nutritional information was posted.

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Apr 19, 2014
Kim Rivers

City officials will give food truck regulations another shot this spring

ST. PETERSBURG — The city is moving forward with changes to make it easier for food trucks to operate downtown.

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The issue began more than two years ago as mobile kitchens like Maggie Loflin’s began popping up in St. Petersburg, part of a larger trend that’s already saturated much of the rest of the nation.

While other cities have welcomed the trucks, (there are rallies in Tampa regularly), the approach here has been more conservative.

The trucks aren’t allowed on public streets downtown. And if a truck wants to sell to the public on private property, they must get a $40 temporary use permit each time, said Loflin, a veteran food trucker who operates Maggie on the Move.

The new regulations were presented to food truck operators, promoters and restaurant representatives Friday during a workshop at City Hall. They would allow for street parking in limited areas of downtown, establish an annual permit for operations conducted on private property and allow food truck rallies under certain conditions.

Anticipation couldn’t be higher.

“We just need to get something set,” Loflin said. “We need more than our seven trucks in St. Pete to build the scene.”

Under the new regulations, the trucks still would be excluded from public street parking in the downtown core, but could potentially park in limited areas near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Arlington Avenue. They would need to get a peddler’s license, required for all street vending.

The new rules also would eliminate the need for trucks to get permits several times a year by creating an annual permit. It’s unclear how much that would cost. Trucks would have limits on the number of days they could park at one spot, a provision that did not please some operators Friday.

City planner Derek Kilborn said officials are seeking a balance between the needs of a burgeoning industry and existing restaurants. There could be options for revision later, he said.

“We hope by doing it this way we can secure the approval you guys are looking for,” he said.

Loflin, a founding board member of the Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association, has found a way to navigate existing rules.

She often sets up near Bayfront Health and All Children’s, just outside the downtown boundary, or goes elsewhere around town.

“We just go and park for a couple hours, feed people and go along our way,” she said.

Still, she said, the food truck scene here won’t grow if changes aren’t made. Many of the ideas in the draft ordinance have been talked about for months, or years.

Ironically, the lag may have worked in operators’ favor, Loflin said.

The trucks are becoming more visible around town, especially near breweries and establishments that don’t serve food.

“I’ve seen how things have really softened,” Loflin said, “People just see us differently than they did two years ago.”

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.

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Apr 19, 2014
Terri Judson

Paso Robles wine region is a quieter alternative to California’s more famous …

Anyone looking to holiday in a California wine region with all the sophistication of Napa and Sonoma without their crowds—and prices—should consider a visit to Paso Robles, a small coastal city, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Especially this year as Paso Robles celebrates its Quasquicentennial, or 125th anniversary.

We wanted only to stop there for lunch but ended up spending the afternoon exploring its downtown, captivated by its fine restaurants, art galleries and funky shops, including a jewelry store with a wine-tasting area in the back. Unfortunately, we didn’t have more time to poke around as the region offers many mostly undiscovered treasures, especially when it comes to eating well-prepared local produce and drinking excellent local wines.

Our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended we exit Highway 101 to sample the food at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro and Wine Lounge, just off the city’s historic town square. We ate al fresco under its awning-covered patio, first sharing a kale salad prepared with a variety of crispy fresh greens, no doubt all harvested that morning from the restaurant’s own nearby garden. Our freshly baked ciabatta sandwiches, goat cheese with poached persimmon and fresh basil for me and, for my wife, smoked salmon with avocado and sunflower sprouts, were distinctive—and tasty. The local Denner winery’s Viognier was fruity, refreshing and also crisp.

Thomas Hill Organics is one of about two-dozen restaurants within a few blocks of the town square, all specializing in locally-grown food and seasonal menus.

We skip dessert at the restaurant for lavender honey gelato at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, one of 20 shops and restaurants on the square, also home to a weekly farmers’ market and bandstand concerts every Friday evening during the summer. Among the other tempting sweet-tooth choices on the square are cocoa mint cookies from the Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookie Company or English Toffee apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Also worth a visit is Studios on the Park, an open studio to watch artists at work in various media and to check out their latest exhibit. The studio sponsors monthly evening art walks that take in other galleries as well as wine-tasting rooms. And there’s Siegel’s, a family jewelry store that may be the world’s only full-service jeweler and pawnbroker with a wine-tasting area. Customers can sample reds and whites from the prize-winning nearby Frolicking Frog Winery as they consider diamond sizes.

Just two decades ago, the area had some 30 wineries; today there is almost that number of tasting rooms around the city square. There are 200 vineyards nearby. Last year, Wine Enthusiast declared Paso Robles Wine Region of the Year. Originally, known for its Rhone varietals, the current offerings include much more, from cabernets to zinfandels.

But wine is not the only liquid here for tasting. The Pithy Little Wine Company, in addition to its own wines, lets visitors sample its homemade sodas. For families, it’s ideal: the kids quaff orange cream and vanilla sodas while the grownups check out the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Olives are another major regional crop, and there are a number of nearby growers who offer tours and tasting rooms. Visitors can taste different blends or fruit-infused olive oils such as tangerine or lemon. One benefit of olive oil tasting tours: no need for a designated driver.

Still, wine reigns supreme. There are two major wine festivals every year, one in the spring and the other in the fall. On the third weekend in May (May 15-18, 2014), some 130 wineries put on Wine Festival events while about half of the producers gather in the town square to show off their best vintages.

During October, on that month’s third weekend (Oct. 17-19, 2014), regional vineyards celebrate the annual grape picking during Harvest Wine Weekend. The wineries report that it’s their busiest time of the year. Some stay at inns in the vineyards, others in town where accommodations range from boutique luxury to motels.

The “big blowout� 125th birthday party this year occurs on Pioneer Day, October 11, an annual celebration of the community’s heritage. It starts off with a morning parade featuring antique tractors and marching bands that ends at noon with a baked bean feed for everyone. And it’s free. Volunteers start stirring the beans in 12 huge kettles before dawn. The recipe includes some 1,200 pounds of beans, 500 pounds of beef, 100 pounds of bell peppers and some 70 pounds of secret seasonings.

Says Quasquicentennial organizer Shonna Howenstine: “Our community has always had a pioneer spirit. It’s coming out of the recession quite well, and this year our birthday will truly be a time to celebrate all that we now have to offer.�

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Apr 19, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Friday: Custom Creations creates dream desserts

HOUSTON — You dream it, they make it! Custom Confections has been crafting over-the-top desserts from their food trailer for over three years, and they already know the sweet taste of victory. 

Husband-wife team Kimberley and Tony Revis have taken home awards from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the World Food Championship in Las Vegas.


Photos: Custom Confections


“They’re not afraid to try anything and that’s what makes them unique,” raved customer Amanda Brady.

They are known for such items as their “Cake-dae” (a sundae-cupcake hybrid), “Frosty Bite” (a cupcake stuffed with ice cream), and fried bananas foster.

Kimberley says their creations are always fresh because, unlike many other trucks, they bake everything in their on-board oven.

“So not only were they baked today, but they were probably baked within the last hour,” she explained.

Tough-guy Tony, who mans the fryer, gave up his steel working job for his soft-spot for sweets and his sweetheart.  The couple said they don’t mind working in close quarters.

If we have a disagreement that morning and we’re on the truck, it’s OK, ‘cause my husband is in his happy place …  and I’m in my happy place,” Kimberley said.

Together they have found the perfect recipe for sweet food truck success.

More information: 
Twitter @CustomDesserts
http://www.customconfectionstx.com/

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Apr 19, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Parks Are Booming Across The Metroplex

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Austin St. Truck Stop. [Photo: Aidan Barrett/EDFW]

If Denton’s too far of a drive, check out the Uptown Truck Stop which opened last month in uh, Uptown. Situated next to the swanky Sisu Uptown Resort, this park’s roster of frequent guests includes Easy Slider, Salsa Limon, Nammi, Ruthie’s, SSahm BBQ and the Yim Yam truck. Access to Sisu’s bar for $4 beers and margaritas makes it a sensible spot for lunch or late-night (scope out the Facebook page for schedules).

Of course, these two recent additions have plenty of more established competition in the Metroplex. Lower Greenville’s Truck Yard is a particularly stiff contender boasting not one but three bars and those mighty fine cheesesteaks that have made it a destination in and of itself. On a typical weekend, the Yard will play host to trucks like Easy Slider, Oink Moo BBQ, Pompeii and Tutta’s.

Msivin_TruckYard4.jpg
Truck Yard. [Photo: Margo Sivin/EDFW]

Head west and you’ll find the Fort Worth Food Park, with regular appearances from Bombay ChopStix, Cajun Tailgators, Eat Jo Dawgs, Holy Frijole, Life is Sweet, Po Boys Rich Girls and many more. The park features a cantina with a few craft beers on tap, plenty of canned selections and a surprisingly deep wine list.

Fort Worth’s other contender is Clearfork Food Park, right on the edge of the Trinity River. It boasts a covered dining area, a full bar and mainstays like the Good Karma Kitchen, The Butcher’s Son, The Smoke Wagon and Top Nosh. Now that warm weather and sunshine are (hopefully?) here to stay, any of the above would make an excellent place to while away the weekend with a few cold ones.

· Austin St. Truck Stop [Facebook]
· Uptown Truck Stop [Facebook]
· Truck Yard [Official]
· Fort Worth Food Park [Official]
· Clear Fork Food Park [Official]
· More food truck coverage on Eater Dallas [-EDFW-]

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