While conducting interviews for the story on the police citations at Food Truck Wednesday in Virginia Highlands back in August, I had an illuminating conversation with Bettie Cagle, the organizer behind the gathering. While discussing the restrictive nature of the Atlanta permitting process, Cagle mentioned that many of the food truck operators have been looking more and more to locations outside the perimeter to get away from the frustrations the face dealing with the City of Atlanta.
And in that conversation, she casually referenced crowds of over 1,000 that regularly show up at here other event, Smyrna’s Food Truck Tuesdays.
At that time, I must admit, I’d only attended the food truck gatherings in town, since it is more convenient for me and because the OTP gatherings feature mostly the same trucks that also make stops in Atlanta. But Cagle’s statement had me intrigued. So, the following Tuesday, I headed up to Smyrna to check it out, and I was certainly surprised.
Located in the Taylor Brawner Park off of Atlanta Road in Smyrna, the weekly gathering draws an impressive crowd. Well over a thousand people were there on my first visit, more than I’d seen at any one event ITP, and at its peak, you had a hard time finding a spot in the grass to sit down.
So, beyond the fact that the trucks face less permitting issues outside the perimeter, it was obvious that there is a need that they are filling within the community. Smyrna is just one example. Food truck gatherings continue to spring up outside of the city of Atlanta, like the Dinner at the Depot gathering in Kennesaw.
What do you think? Is Atlanta running the food trucks out of town, or is there just an under-served market outside the city of Atlanta, and the trucks are just now catching on? Maybe a little bit of both?
- By Jon Watson, Food More blog
Local mobile pantry truck sites have been scheduled for September 2012.
The sites are part of Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, Inc., a regional food bank in Comstock Park, according to information provided by Muskegon County Cooperating Churches.
The local truck program provides an additional food source for Michigan residents struggling to “put food on their tables” by providing persons in need with “fresh produce and often dairy products, which are not usually available from a church pantry.”
The program is supported by various community groups and companies.
SEPTEMBER 2012 FOOD TRUCK SCHEDULE
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2 p.m., Harbor Unitarian Universalist/B’Nai Israel, 165 E. Apple, Muskegon, 231-638-7237.
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2 p.m., Holton Community Center/Holton United Methodist Church, Holton, 8772 Holton-Duck Lake, Holton, 231-821-0000.
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 6 p.m., Samuel Lutheran Church, 540 Houston at Eighth Street, Muskegon, 231-722-7308.
Friday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m., Loaves Fishes Pantry, 1095 Third at Houston Avenue, Muskegon, 231-726-5341.
Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m., Calvin Christian Reformed Church, 973 W. Norton, Muskegon, 231-737-5207.
Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m., Bethesda Baptist Church, 575 S. Getty, Muskegon, 231-722-7552.
For more information, including additional food truck listings, and to verify sites, call 211 or 231-733-1155 or Muskegon County Cooperating Churches at 231-727-6000.
When mass communication junior Charley Whitman first saw Ruben’s Taco Truck parked outside of The Palms Bar and Grill on Freret Street last year, he was a little skeptical. He thought it was just a little truck on the side of the road, but he went up and ordered some tacos anyway.
After taking the first bite, he was hooked, and since then he has eaten there numerous times.
“The food is up there as some of the best Mexican food in New Orleans. My favorite is anything with pineapple pork in it,” Whitman said.
Ruben’s Taco Truck, no longer outside The Palms, was a weekend staple for many students last year because it served up cheap, fresh and hot Mexican food. Hungry students, like mass communication junior, Margi Kalbacher, lined up to get a taste.
“It was right outside of the bar, and I get hungry when I’m drunk. It was also delicious,” Kalbacher said.
In the past few years, the New Orleans food industry has expanded to include this alternative type of food service. Rachel Billows, president of the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition and co-owner of La Cocinita Food Truck, said these trucks are basically “restaurants on wheels.” They have popped up all over New Orleans and provide a service slightly novel for many New Orleanians. “Delicious, innovative, inexpensive food on the go,” Billows said.
Post-Katrina taco trucks sprouted up to feed people working on rebuilding the city since restaurants weren’t up and running yet, Billows said. “Only in the past two to three years did modern food trucks start to cruise the streets of New Orleans, following the national food truck trend”
Today, the industry has grown to include dozens of food trucks that roam the streets of New Orleans. One of the reasons food trucks are becoming so popular is because they are fairly easy to start up, Billows said. For her, the appeal of owning a food truck is the low start-up cost relative to starting a restaurant and the flexible business model.
Kalbacher noticed this firsthand. “The idea was genius. Ruben’s Taco Truck had lines of people outside of it every night. It was easy to make money,” she said.
It is also a great opportunity for “budding culinary entrepreneurs” to showcase their culinary expertise, Billows said.
Taylor Jackson is an example of such. Two years ago, he left his full-time job doing non-profit consulting and bought a 1981 Chevy box truck from Craigslist in Georgia.
Along with his roommate, he drove it back to New Orleans, renovated it into a food truck and perfected his empanada recipes at different food festivals and events. This past July, his Empanada Intifada opened full-time.
Today they serve up “baked empanadas, which is a Latin-American savory pastry made with many different types of meat and vegetables and our signature made-from-scratch dough,” Jackson said.
What adds to the flavor of the food truck industry is that every food truck has a different story.
For Rue Chow co-owner Rachel Eymard, she and her husband, both experienced professional chefs, were tired of working for other people and decided they wanted to try something new. Together, they decided a food truck was within reach.
“It’s an opportunity to own your own business and to do something you enjoy at a minimal investment with the opportunity to grow,” Eymard said.
Eymard and her husband decided to build their own food truck in their backyard. When they bought the truck, all it had was a driver’s seat, but they designed and outfitted it with their own complete professional kitchen.
“As far as the food goes, it depends on where we are, who we are serving and the needs of the customer. We don’t have a set menu, but some items you can find on the truck are Korean BBQ chicken pitas, pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches and garlic butter fries,” Eymard said.
Before this fall, history senior Allegra Tartaglia had never eaten from a food truck in New Orleans because she didn’t trust “the outward appearance of the trucks.” It made her skeptical of the sanitary conditions and the quality of the food.
Tartaglia’s feelings are mirrored by many Loyola students, but what people may not realize is that food trucks are regulated by the city, and they are required to have health, fire and mobile food vendor permits before they can start slinging food.
According to Billows, in order to get your health permit, you must be in complete compliance with Part XXIII of the Louisiana State Sanitary Code, which includes having a 3-basin sink and separate hand washing sink with proper water pressure and hot temperatures, as well as having a wastewater tank larger than the freshwater tank, smooth and easily cleanable surfaces, proper thermometers and sanitizer.
“The most difficult part of the process is getting one of the coveted 100 mobile food vendor permits, and unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that there will be a permit available once you’ve spent the time and energy to buy your truck and get it up to code.”
Most food trucks have spots that they visit regularly, but in order to keep up to date on where a certain truck is at any given time, Billows suggests to use an outlet that most college students are very familiar with — social media.
“In addition to Facebook and Twitter, we recently created a text message alert system so that people can receive a text message any time we are in their neighborhood or anytime we move around at all,” Jackson said.
MSU Introduces Campus Food Truck: Eat at State On-The-Go
EAST LANSING, MICH. – Michigan State University Culinary Services has introduced a new dining option on campus with a food truck, Eat at State On-the-Go, serving burgers, sandwiches, salads, snacks and drinks year-round.
“Food helps build community, and that’s exactly what our new food truck will be doing on campus,” said Guy Procopio, director for MSU Culinary Services. “It’s going to make Eating at State more portable and convenient. We’re constantly looking at creative ways to enhance and support our community without necessarily relying on traditional food services, which is what we’ve done with Eat at State On-the-Go.”
The truck will be offering menu items with campus and local ingredients – greens grown at the MSU Student Organic Farm, beef is raised on campus, cheese from the MSU Dairy Store, desserts from the MSU Bakers and bread baked locally at Breadsmith Artisan Bread Bakery of Okemos, Mich. – as part of the Grown at MSU program. The fall menu includes local and vegetarian options: MSU’s own smoked cheddar cheeseburger, salad wrap, salad wrap with chicken, chicken sandwich, smashed chickpea sandwich and specialty sandwich.
“The menu’s inspiration came from taking a local mindset and thinking about what our guests like to eat to create items that are fun and flavorful,” said Kurt Kwiatkowski, corporate chef for MSU Culinary Services. “Our signature item is the smoked cheddar cheeseburger and with all of its ingredients grown, raised or made on campus or in the community, it doesn’t get more local.”
The food truck contains a flat-top grill, a hot box, a bakery cabinet, a refrigerator, a quiet generator and a three-compartment sink. The vehicle was designed in cooperation with the company, Mobi Munch. The Ingham County Health Department vetted and approved plans and conducted food and work safety inspections.
Eat at State On-the-Go accepts cash, credit cards, Spartan Cash and on- and off-campus student, and faculty/staff dining plans through Combo-X-Change and Flex Option. Eat at State On-the-Go is located north of Shaw Hall near the Red Cedar River on MSU’s campus from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily during fall semester while Shaw Dining Hall is under construction. The food truck will also be serving at fall football games. Beginning spring semester 2013, the food truck will be moving to different campus locations.
This past summer, Eat at State social media followers gave their input in naming the truck. The three top names, Green Machine, ST82PL8 and Go Green Cuisine, were added into the designed graphic wrapping on the truck. Guests can “follow” the food truck and find out more about campus dining through “Eat at State” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Culinary Services is a department of the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services at Michigan State University.
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LOUISVLLE, KY (WDRB NEWS) — The local food truck industry continues to grow.
Sometimes it even leads to an expansion into the restaurant business.
Such is the case for Lil Cheezers, which specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
“It is what we call a fancy grilled cheese sandwich,” explains owner Matt Davis. “It is not just regular bread and cheese. We use premium products, and then doctor it up with quite a few ingredients.”
Lil Cheezers opened about a month ago in the Highlands along Baxter Avenue, and right away it began drawing large crowds.
David started his business as a food truck operation, but quickly decided he wanted a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Davis credits Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration with allowing the food truck owners to cut through the red tape of too many city government rules and regulations and make it easier for them to attract customers and grow their businesses.
“For example he (the mayor) gave us the ability to park at downtown parking meters,” he says.
Encouraging entrepreneurship is something the city administration continues as a priority.
Davis started out small just a couple of years ago and now he has big plans.
He is looking for other locations to open additional restaurants in Louisville and Lexington and anywhere within 100 miles of Louisville that he and his partner would own.
“We also have some aggressive offers from other states,” he says.
Davis also has plans to add a second food truck to his business.
Once a paramedic, he says that, despite the long hours of running his own business, he has found his place as an entrepreneur and hopes he never has to work for someone else ever again.
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
People around Allen looking for a food truck fix need look no further than their own backyard this weekend, as some of the best are coming to town for charity.
Gourmet food trucks from around the Dallas-Fort Worth area are converging on Watters Creek on Sept. 22 for the 1st Annual Haute Wheels Food Truck Fest, which will be held from 6-9 p.m. that evening. The event will benefit Allen Professional Fire Association and Guns Hoses of North Texas.
Food trucks participating in the event are include trucks such as The Butcher’s Son, which serves Johnsonville sausage and more; Nammi Truck, which serves bahn mi; Easy Slider, which serves many varieties of sliders; Ssahm BBQ, a gourmet Korean taco truck; Ruthie’s Rolling Caf, which serves gourmet grilled cheese; Jack’s Chow Hound, which serves burgers, grilled cheese and sliders; Good Karma Kitchen, a gourmet vegetarian and gluten-free truck; Coolhaus, a cookie and ice cream truck; and Rockstar Bake Shop, which specializes in whoopee pies.
According to Kriste Klepper, Marketing Director for Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm, the idea to bring the trucks came from their corporate office in Fort Worth. She said these events have been quite successful in the past.
“The food truck events are very popular there, so we wanted to give it a try in Allen,” Klepper said.
Admission to the event is $5, which will be donated to the charities and will buy diners a wristband to wear to the food trucks. According to Klepper, the wristbands are not necessary to be served at the food trucks, but is greatly appreciated.
“I doubt anybody would be turned away, but I encourage them to make the donation,” Klepper said. “It’s for a great cause.”
In addition to the food, live music will be provided by the band Counterfeit Radio. The event will also feature a firefighter display, with tours of a humvee, a military-style dog tag machine, as well as FDNY Rescue 4 and other artifacts from 9/11, courtesy of The Remembrance Rescue Project.
The event will have free parking, and is located in the heart of Watters Creek, near “The Green”.
The 1st Annual Haute Wheels Food Truck Fest is sponsored by The City of Allen and Park Place Lexus Park Place Jaguar. For additional information visit www.watterscreek.com or call 972-747-8000.
The Food Network’s show “The Great Food Truck Race” has kept contestants roaming the country, but UT is gearing up for its own race to feed hungry students on the go.
UT Dining served free lunch to students from their new food truck, La Lola Loca, in front of the G-10 parking garage Wednesday.
Troy Anderson, UT Dining operations director, said the idea for the truck stemmed from the need to keep dining options modern.
“It was just something that was very cutting-edge,” Anderson said. “Food trucks are suddenly becoming very popular across the country right now.”
UT was chosen as one of 10 pilot locations across the country for Aramark to bring food trucks to. Anderson said the dining facility expects the truck to officially launch Friday and serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. He hopes the as the truck gains popularity, they can expand the hours to serve breakfast and dinner.
The truck serves Mexican-inspired cuisine, such as Taco’Dillas, which are quesadillas stuffed with grilled chicken, chipotle aioli, and salsa on a flour tortilla.
A frenzy of students stopped to take advantage of the free meal.
Anthony Stachowiak, second year graduate student in sociology, was walking to his car when he saw the commotion and decided to grab some lunch.
“I am absolutely stoked that there’s a food truck in Knoxville,” Stachowiak said. “This is the third one I’ve seen in Knoxville and I’m very excited about it, because food trucks tend to be locally owned and run, so I think it’s going to be very good for Knoxville in general, because that’s just good for local business.”
Stachowaik ordered the empanadas and the vegetarian burrito bowl, and other patrons tried the loca tacos.
Similar to other UT dining facilities, students can use Dining Dollars and All-Star to purchase food at the truck. Like other mobile trucks, La Lola Loca will use Twitter and Facebook to alert hungry students of its location.
“We’re going to take (the food truck) to where the people are,” Anderson said.
To see where the green truck stops next after its official lauch, follow @lolaloca_UT.
MONROVIA – After spending $140,000 on defending food-truck restrictions – including a ban from doing business in Old Town – the city has agreed to a comeback for the popular mobile vendors and settled a lawsuit brought by the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association.
“We’re very happy with the outcome, and we’re really hoping to be able to continue to work cooperatively, like we have with many municipalities, to bring their laws in compliance with state law,” said Jeffrey Dermer, attorney for the SoCal Mobile Vendors Association, which represents some 150 gourmet food trucks.
“State law says you can only regulate mobile vending for public safety purposes and especially not for protectionism and not aesthetics,” he said.
The city has agreed to ease the restrictions and to pay $75,000 of the Association’s attorney fees in addition to the $140,000 in defending the suit, according to the City Clerk’s office.
Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz said the City Council will soon consider a revised ordinance for approval.
“It’s a shame. … We were kind of a test case because many cities have policies very similar to ours,” she said. “We developed the ordinance using other (cities’) existing ordinances … We drew the short straw.”
The association sued Monrovia in March 2011, challenging a new ordinance that effectively banned food trucks from operating in Old Town and in most residential areas. The city’s rules stopped trucks from parking
for longer than 20 minutes in one spot during the day and banned multiple trucks from doing business on the same block.
The lawsuit alleged the city’s ordinance was “naked restraint of trade” and that officials had taken a “militant stance” in expanding the scope of an already unlawful ordinance.
City officials said it was an expensive settlement but said the council made a business decision to “avoid the financial risk of taking the matter to trial.”
If the association had prevailed, it could have cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars more in legal compensation, a city statement said.
The settlement is not an admission of guilt by either party, officials said.
Dermer, the association’s attorney, said city officials have agreed to repeal its ordinance and replace it with a less restrictive one similar to an ordinance in Manhattan Beach, which is now considered a model.
Matt Geller of the food vendors association said they wish litigation could have been avoided.
“We hope to work with Monrovia, and all cities, to enact regulations that foster consumer choice while maintaining public safety,” he wrote in an email.
Meanwhile, the city of Arcadia has also been sued by the association over its food truck restrictions. City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said the Monrovia settlement should not affect the lawsuit. The food truck ordinance, which has been on the books for more than five decades, has long been under review, he said.
“We were considering making changes anyway,” Lazzaretto said. “We’re hoping to settle with the (mobile) food vendors quickly and amicably.”
1 DINE AROUND UPTOWN Join Round Table, the young professionals’ group of the North Texas Food Bank, for a restaurant crawl by private car, hosted by chef Tiffany Derry. Hot spots on the tour include Private Social, Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa and Dee Lincoln’s Dining Room and Bubble Bar. Guests can participate in raffles at each venue, and each diner will receive a swag bag. All proceeds will benefit the food bank. Sept. 22 from 3 to 6 p.m. beginning at Private Social, 3232 McKinney Ave., Dallas. $75 per person, $125 per pair. 214-270-2021. roundtabledallas.com.
2 FOOD FOR THOUGHT More than a dozen local celebrity chefs will present tastes of their signature dishes at this fourth annual black-tie-optional benefit for Big Thought, a Dallas nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public education through creative learning. Sept. 22 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, 6911 Lemmon Ave., Dallas. Tickets are $150 per person, $100 for young professionals under 30. 469-916-9818. foodforthoughtdallas.com.
3 HAUTE WHEELS FOOD TRUCK FEST Food trucks from all over the area (Nammi Truck, Coolhaus, Easy Slider, Good Karma Kitchen and others) will roll into Watters Creek for this inaugural celebration to benefit Allen Professional Fire Association and Guns Hoses of North Texas. Counterfeit Radio will perform live music, and guests will have the opportunity to tour a Humvee and see FDNY Rescue 4 and 9/11 artifacts from the Remembrance Rescue Project. Sept. 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm, 970 Garden Park Drive at U.S. 75 and Bethany Drive, Allen. $5 admission. 972-747-8000. watterscreek.com.
4 VEGETARIAN COOKING CLASS Learn some simple vegetarian recipes and get information about the benefits of meditation and eating a vegetarian diet. Sept. 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Brahma Kumaris Raja Meditation Center, 13914 Josey Lane, Farmers Branch. Free. 972-254-5562. bkdallas.org.
5 BASS PRO ROADKILL COOK-OFF Of course actual roadkill won’t be served, but area grill masters will have the opportunity to show off their creative talents using anything that swims, crawls, slithers or flies. Winners in the most flavorful, most creative and best overall categories will take home Bass Pro gift cards. This family event will include live music, a DJ, vendors, an antique car show and more. Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops, 5001 Bass Pro Drive, Garland. Free; food available for purchase. theroadkillcookoff.com.
Compiled by Ellen Ritscher Sackett
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