It’s the latest trend in gourmet food… food trucks. Yep, and if you haven’t had your lunch handed to you through a food truck window, you haven’t lived — truly.
Well, if you haven’t noshed on tasty eats from food truck (or you happen to REALLY love food truck eats), then you ought to check out the first EVER food truck festival happening this Saturday from 4-11pm on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. Tickets cost $30.
Think about it:
Good, local food.
Beer and wine garden (courtesy of Four Peaks Beer Truck and Dos Cabezas Winery).
OK, so while some people are in the food-truck-know, a lot of people just don’t get this trend that is blanketing the country… well, we thought we’d ask the man behind the mobile food movement here in Phoenix just what the fuss is all about, why people should hit up the festival and why these food trucks are NOT roach coaches…
Brad Moore is both the president of the Food Truck Coalition and one of its co-founders, and he and his wife own Short Leash Hotdogs (really yummy hotdogs made from Schreiners Fine Sausages and local ingredients, all served up on naan bread). Besides dishing out dogs from his truck with his partner-in-crime, Brad is also responsible for the creation of Food Truck Fridays in downtown Phoenix…
Check out our Q&A below:
So, this is the First Annual Food Truck Festival. How did it come to be?
We have an organization called The Phoenix Street Food Coalition and we are quickly growing. The members had the goal of having a festival and when Cindy Dach approached us with the possibility, we jumped on it. The partnership with her organization (Roosevelt Row CDC) has been remarkable, and without them it would not have been possible. They have helped us with the funding, organization and the basic support in believing in what we are building.
What can folks expect from this Saturday’s fest?
We have tried to learn from the big cities with hundreds of food trucks and what they have done with their festivals. What we have heard is that people would have to wait in line for tickets and then wait in line again for one truck’s food.
So, we are making this a more interactive event. Instead of full menus, we will be offering samples to encourage the customers to roam from truck to truck. It’s basically all you can eat. We will also have Four Peaks Beer Truck and Dos Cabezas Wine available for purchase. The purpose of our organization is to promote responsible street vending and collaboration. This event is a celebration of how far we have come and how much we have done as a group and we want people to taste each of our truck’s food.
OK, food trucks have had a pretty bad rap — how are you or how have you overcome that?
To be a member of the Phoenix Street Food Coalition, you must meet our requirements and we vet each of the applicants based on the following: Concept and menu, independently owned and not a national franchise, the food must be specialty in nature, which includes scratch-made or artisan, and focused on local production in Arizona. All vendors are required to have 30% of their menu comprised of products produced in Arizona, must have a valid Maricopa County Environmental Service Permit, and all members must be compliant with city and state regulations. We believe that these standards set us apart from roach coaches and are changing the way the people view street food.
How does one get into the food truck business?
Jump and pray! Seriously! You have to do a lot of foot work. We have set up some basic check lists and details on our coalition website, but people really need to do their research. It’s interesting how many people come to us with $2000 and idea, but no research has been done. It costs a minimum of $50,000 to start up this kind of business and it is a lot of hard work. I always tell people it’s easiest to come up with a menu and work from a detailed business plan. This will help you determine the kind of truck you need and what equipment and will help you budget your food costs.
The festival sounds like a pretty good deal, what all is included in the ticket price?
It’s a great deal! You can eat from 26 trucks, plus there will be beer and wine for sale. We also have a full line-up of music hosted by Stinkweeds.
Any food trucks or brands I may have heard of?
We are proud to announce that we (Short Leash Hotdogs) just got awarded “Best Food Truck” in Phoenix this year by Phoenix New Times, Sweet Republic was voted USA Today’s top ice cream for 2011 and the Hey Joe truck won the “2011 Big Brain” award from the “Phoenix New Times.”
Food trucks have really taken off in PHX, what’s the appeal?
It’s funny, they haven’t taken off at the same speed of other cities. Our city is cautious, but loyal. They like what they like, and they really have to warm up to the idea. We started this group with five companies and have grown to 30, but have lost four along the way. In my opinion, the appeal for our particular group is that we are responsible, locally focused and have excellent products.
Do you think it’ll continue to grow?
It will keep growing and it’s interesting to see how the different cities will respond to the regulations and the trends. We have between 4-to-8 people approach us each week with their ideas and plans, and we have seen many of these people start the process. I expect to double that number by this time next year (or sooner).
You obviously have a coalition of food trucks, what’s next?
We have many locations that we are planning to develop or are in the process of developing. What we want to see is some permanent locations for trucks to go and be able to set up at all times — so you can always find truck food. We are hoping to unveil a location for this soon. We also want to do several more festivals and events.
>>Image provided by Brad Moore