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Lunch Truck It Brings Food Trucks to Long Beach

April 29, 2011 3 comments

Beginning May 4, a new weekly gourmet food truck event will kick off in a location where food trucks are rarely seen: within the city limits of Long Beach. Lunch Truck It, which will take place on Coronado at Aneheim on Wednesdays, is a joint effort of Councilman O’Donnell and  the 4th District, and The ZaSo Design District.

Recently, I spoke with Jennifer Jones, administrator of the Lunch Truck It Facebook and Twitter accounts, and a key organizer for the event, to discuss the origin and potential for bringing gourmet food trucks to Long Beach. The following comes from our short e-mail interview.
For those who don’t know, “The ZaSo Design Destrict is made up of a number of creative firms on Coronado Ave. at Anaheim in Long Beach. It has become a collaboration of businesses that want to be more involved in the local Long Beach community and unify the efforts for our district’s creative growth and redevelopment.” Situated on Coronado Street, North of Aneheim Ave, the area will host 3 or 4 trucks every Wednesday for Lunch from 11:30 to 2:30.

Current Long Beach municipal code only allows Food Trucks to operate in construction zones and imposes different regulations and fees than most municipalities in Los Angeles County. This explains why Long Beach residents see trucks operating just outside, but rarely in, The City of Long Beach.

Lunch Truck It will bring a rotating lineup of food trucks to Long Beach (currently 12 trucks are planning on serving in the coming weeks) including Buttermilk, Vizzi Truck, Cool Haus, Global Soul, Ahn Joo, Mandoline Grill, Greasy Wiener, Crepe’n Around, and Grill ‘Em All.

The 4th District and Councilman Patrick O’Donnell was instrumental in getting the ball rolling for the idea of Lunch Truck It to come to fruition. Jones says the Councilman was excited about the idea and the initiative coming out of the area. Vizzi Truck was also a huge help as “the first truck to take a chance on [them] a year ago, they have been immensely helpful with the brainstorm and launch… giving [them] advice and tips from the trucks perspective.” Jones hopes the new event will bring more people into the ZaSo Design District to stick around for more than just lunch. As for her hopes for the impact on local law, Jones said “It is our hope that the City’s regulations will become more flexible and accommodating for gourmet food trucks. We are optimistic that Lunch Truck It will become a hot spot in Long Beach for gourmet food trucks and their patrons from all over L.A. and Orange County.”
I am equally optimistic that bringing gourmet food trucks into the area can spur interest in the area and cooperation with the local organizers, in addition to the fun and spontaneous community that food truck events already bring. Since I come from a city where food trucks are latecomers to the scene and face insane scrutiny and regulations, it’s comforting to see events like this work toward acceptance. I’m enthusiastic that Lunch Truck It will be successful in it’s first weeks and I hope the city comes out to support it. I encourage Long Beach residents to give props to Councilman O’Donnell and Jennifer Jones for having initiative  and vision. Unfortunately, I will be working in San Pedro during the first Lunch Truck It event, but I look forward to stopping by and enjoying some of the best GFTs in LA County sometime soon. Maybe I can convince someone to stop by and take pictures? The kick-off event will feature Great Balls on Tires, KutnSow,  Rosa’s Bella Cucina, The Sweets Truck, and Vizzi Truck. Trucks interested in participating in future Lunch Truck It events can contact info@lunchtruckit.com.

Lunch Truck It
Launching Wednesday May 4th, 11:30-2:30
Coronado Ave at Aneheim
Twitter: @LunchTruckIt
Facebook: facebook.com/lunchtruckit 
Also, feel free to spread this flyer.

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Signal Hill Din-Din a Big Success!

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

After a rain delay pushed it back a week, the first ever Signal Hill Din-Din-A-Go-Go took place this past Monday. The lineup was comprised of industry favorites Lomo Arigato, Grill ‘Em All, Mandoline Grill, and Tropical Shave Ice, who catered to dozens (hundreds?) of hungry customers form the Long Beach/Signal Hill area.

Since the line for the Great Food Truck Race winner Grill ‘Em All was so long and constant, I saw a lot of people, myself included grabbing some delicious Hawaiian shave ice or Vietnamese tacos to eat while waiting. There were a few lawn chair circles,  plenty of conversations with new friends, and a few unfortunate parking tickets. It’s hard to gauge the attendance of this kind of event, as patrons come and go freely, but the long steady line for burgers and small crowds in front of every truck were an indication that the night was a success.
I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s lineup, as well as more food truck events in the Long Beach area. (Stay tuned!!)

Thanks to everyone involved in making this happen- it was a lot of fun and will hopefully show Long Beach that their municipal code regarding food trucks could use some tweaking.
A big thanks to Sarah for the pictures! Check out her work at sarahsbecker.com!

 

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Signal Hill Din-Din on Twitter: @SHDinDinAGoGo

Food Trucks coming to Signal Hill!

March 12, 2011 5 comments

Tuesday night, it was announced via Twitter (thanks to @thetruckchaser) that Signal Hill will soon be seeing a weekly gathering of a rotating lineup of gourmet food trucks. The Long Beach area’s “independent donut hole” is the latest town to host a Din-Din A Go-Go, a series of mobile food courts that meet weekly in established locations in the South Bay, West LA, Los Alamitos, Anaheim, and Highland Park. Each location has a few “anchor” trucks that come out every week, and the group is rounded out by different trucks every week.

 

Signal Hill Din-Din A Go-Go is coming!

Signal Hill Din-Din A Go-Go is coming!

 

I’ve been going to the South Bay Din-din on Thursdays as often as I can to sample the different trucks that make the lineup each week. When I first heard about the event, it was held in the KMart parking lot in Carson, and since has moved to 19600 S. Vermont in the Harbor Gateway. I have seen this event grow each week, as word spreads through social media and word of mouth, into an event much bigger than I expected.

Typically, the Long Beach/Signal Hill area sees very few food trucks set up shop, even from those who visit both Los Angeles and Orange County. In future posts, I hope to look into the reasons for this and find what kinds of laws and regulations are preventing food truck fun in Long Beach. I can’t seem to find much online. For now, I’m just looking forward to a Din-Din that I can take the bus to!

Signal Hill Din-Din A Go-Go on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/SHDinDinAGoGo

What’s so Great About Food Trucks?

December 3, 2010 7 comments

It looks like Los Angeles isn’t alone in trying to figure out what to do with the rising popularity of food trucks, often referred to as lunch trucks, or gourmet food trucks. The long standing tradition of the taco truck – cheap, simple tacos often hawked in working-class neighborhoods – is being joined by everything from pizza to cupcakes to barbecue. These trucks have been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel shows, and showcase a wide variety of meals and desserts. Los Angeles and Orange

Food trucks at South Bay Din-din a go-go in Carson, CA

Counties seem to be ground zero for this trend, as they are home to hundreds of food trucks. St. Louis only recently followed suit with the popular gourmet pizza restaurant Pi operating it’s own truck, which went live earlier this year. Georgina Gustin of the St. Louis Post Dispatch summarizes the new mobile meal experience nicely:

The popularity of food trucks, though, has as much to do with the novelty of the experience and the spontaneous community that pops up when a food truck rolls into town and parks for a couple of hours. After many food truck drivers find their spot, the first thing they do is post their location on social media sites, often Facebook and Twitter, and within minutes customers start trickling out of office buildings for lunch or a snack.

 

In most cases, and especially that of trucks like the Sugar Babies Cupcakery, food trucks are not just selling a food product, they’re selling an experience. Sugar Babies sells miniature cupcakes, delicately decorated in pretty colors, from their bright pink truck. The girls inside wear pink and grey dresses which evoke a 60’s-era look and novelty feel. This type of theme makes the food truck experience seem more special and exciting to a host neighborhood. Anyone can walk to a bakery and get cupcakes, but the Sugar Babies image is something unique and fun, and consequently, marketable.

I’ve spotted a few of the more popular trucks around LA, but I was only recently able to eat from one at a “South Bay Din-din a go-go” food truck meet-up event in Carson.

A Typical Food Truck "Storefront"

With the newfound excitement over “gourmet” or non-traditional trucks, comes plenty of debate points. Is a mobile restaurant fair competition for traditional ones? Are they held to the same health standards? What about parking regulations?

Personally, I think that these newer Food Trucks are a fun way to bring people together around good food. There’s just something exciting about shouting your order into the tiny window of a truck, shelling out a few bucks, and then eating some delicious food outside with other people. This phenomenon is relatively new to St. Louis, as permits for street food vendors are hard to come by, so I may be prone to some newcomer excitement. I recently ate from the Mandoline Grill Truck, and I have to say that I highly recommend the tofu.

I can definitely see however, how my opinion on this whole issue might be very different if I was the owner of a traditional “brick-and-mortar” restaurant. Parking a taco truck in front of a Mexican restaurant or a pizza truck in front of a pizzeria just isn’t a very fair or ethical business practice. On the other hand, these newer trucks provide more dining options in a given area and contrive opportunities for spontaneous neighborhood gatherings.

At times I think, “why would I go out of my way for a Korean BBQ truck when there’s Korean BBQ that people rave about right down the street?” but when the acclaimed Kogi Truck visits Long Beach, my thoughts change to “why get the same Korean BBQ I can get any day when the Kogi Truck is in town?” So maybe I can’t really answer the question “what’s so great?” about these new trucks, but I do recommend that everyone check them out.

At the very least, it’s good to hear that food trucks will soon be subject to the same health codes that any other restaurant must follow. As for parking regulations and competition issues, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. For now, I’ll just enjoy the fun, community, and good food.

 

Sources: Bussiness Week, KPCC, stltoday (Post-Dispatch)

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