More than 25 food trucks are scheduled to show up at the Village Commons on Village Boulevard tonight in what is becoming a frequent event – a food truck rally.
Most are from Broward but vend in Miami, according to NachoMama’s truck co-owner, Bill Diamond.
“There’s definitely a market for them in Palm Beach County, but most of the steady events started in Miami, so that’s where they all go,” Diamond said. They’re becoming more frequent in Broward, though with the Thursday night event at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino every week.
Trucks a social media phenomenon
Food trucks are trendy – if you haven’t seen all the attention they’ve gotten from the media, you’ve been asleep for more than a year.
They get customers through social media – Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, specifically. Their followers are tweeted with the location of the truck every day, and usually, their menus, if they change.
“Our audience is mixed,” Diamond said. “We reach out to a younger demographic, true. But they’re becoming more well known, especially with the rallies, and the promoters are doing a good job, too.”
Early complaints about the trucks was there was nowhere to go and eat once you bought the foods – none of the trucks had dining rooms – it was counter service only, with maybe a table set up with condiments nearby. “Now the promoters are putting up picnic tables, keeping the area clean, having DJs – it’s definitelyi becoming more structured,” Diamond said. “It’s creating an ambience. And the trucks are fun to look at, too.”
The trucks sell everything from Korean barbecue to grilled cheese sandwiches to cupcakes; the promoters try to make sure there’s a wide variety of foods offered. Most trucks charge from $3 to $6 for their items, with some full meals and meat or fish-rich dishes going higher. All in all, it’s a cheap dinner if you don’t try to eat everything on site, Diamond said.
Brick and mortar restaurants still leery
Finding sites for the food trucks is tricky – many cities have ordinances about parking trucks or serving from mobile kitchens. “At some places, you’re allowed to stop and serve as long as there’s a line of customers, but when the line ends, you have to move,” he said.
The truck rallies, where 20 or more trucks gather in one parking lot, are better venues, Diamond said – there’s no hunting down individual trucks and the choices allow diners any type of meal.
The response from competing brick-and-mortar restaurants, who pay considerably more overhead and see customers going to trucks, is often negative, but those who’ve really seen what happens would embrace a truck rally nearby, Diamond said.
“The overflow we attract is good for everybody. In Boca Center, for instance, not everyone is going to eat at a food truck if they’re going to Uncle Tai’s, but someone who came to the food truck rally may go in to Uncle Tai’s – or may come back to go there.”
The trucks are not without overhead, either, he said. Promoters charge from $50 to $100 per spot to attend, there’s propane and staff to pay; gas to drive here, and food costs. And food tickets are much smaller than in a restaurant, obviously.
“Most events are on private property,” he said. “They’re catching on in Palm Beach County, so I think you can expect to see them more frequently.”
Another food truck rally is planned for Saturday, Sept. 17, at Boca Center in Boca Raton, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Food truck rally
- Where: Village Commons, on Village Boulevard, north of Okeechobee Road
- When: 5:30-10 p.m., Sept. 14
- Cost: Free admission; food and drinks sold separately