Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 10:00 am

More Food, More Trucks: What the Truck?! 2

In the time since the last What the Truck?! in June, two more trucks joined Edmonton’s mobile food scene, and a third was serving up worldly flavours at farmers’ markets in Sherwood Park and St. Albert. The time was ripe for another food truck extravaganza.

Planning for the second WTT, Mack and I knew we wanted the event to be bigger and better. The addition of Drift, Nomad and Molly’s Eats (bringing the total number of trucks to nine) meant Beaver Hills House Park was no longer an option. So instead of fighting with a similarly challenging space that would require trucks to jump the curb, we approached the City about closing 102 Street, just south of Jasper. It is adjacent to Abbey Lane Park, a lovely, often-overlooked green space downtown.

What the Truck?! 2

Road closed

The fee for the street closure was not inexpensive, due in part to the need to re-route several buses. But thanks to Responsible Hospitality Edmonton, the fee was taken care of. Moving forward, it is likely the City won’t pick up such a large tab again; sponsors for future curbside events will be essential.

Mack and I were perhaps too confident that the two of us alone could handle ushering in the trucks as well as setting up the park space that afternoon. Luckily, a last minute tweet for some help was answered by Sandra, Walter and Brittney, who graciously helped us move some tables in anticipation of the crowds.

What the Truck?! 2

Sandra, Walter and Brittney to the rescue!

Felicia and Jeff

Felicia and Jeff made use of the tables

Though the weather could have been much worse, we couldn’t believe that WTT happened to fall on a Friday that was bookended by two gloriously hot summer days. That said, thankfully, the overcast and windy conditions didn’t seem to deter hearty, hungry patrons at all.

What the Truck?! 2

The crowds

It’s difficult to know how many people attended WTT 2, but the number was at least double the first event. We did know, however, that the line-ups were rampant and long – up to an hour at some trucks. We thank everyone for their patience that day, and for demonstrating to us that Edmonton indeed has an appetite for food trucks!

Jessica snaps a photo of Drift's sandwiches

There was lots of photo sharing that day – Jessica takes a picture of her prized Drift sandwiches

It was so gratifying for both of us to see the wide range of people at WTT – particularly the families that brought their children to the event. Given that Abbey Lane Park is typically empty in the evenings, it was fantastic to see children making use of the green space.

Linda and Zoe

Linda made sure Zoe was well fed!

In an effort to try to improve the event, we did our best to incorporate the feedback we received after the first WTT. More recycle receptacles were made available, and we ensured that lines were distributed throughout the space instead of concentrating the crowds in one area. It seemed to work well overall, though I know the fence along the park did restrict a few of the lines.

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Drift had one intense line

We know some people were frustrated with the length of the lines, or with some of the trucks running out of food, but we hope this might encourage you to give the truck a try the next time you see them.

We really appreciated that several of the trucks crafted dishes specifically for WTT. It definitely made it easier to market!

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Bamir brought the bacon…literally

It was our own fault, but Mack and I actually didn’t end up eating much that day. We really should have made more of an effort to attack the trucks at the beginning! Anyway, I did get to sample one of the dishes I was looking forward to – the Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soup from The Lingnan. The soup did much to warm me up from the chilly breeze.

The Lingnan

HK-style wonton noodle soup

Mack and I also couldn’t pass up Eva Sweet’s bacon waffle! Bamir definitely didn’t skimp on the crispy bacon, but call me old fashioned – I have to say I actually prefer the sweet waffle.

Mack and Sharon

Waffles! (photo courtesy of Brittney Le Blanc)

As a whole, we were also able to garner much more media attention this time around. The Journal, AOL and CBC previewed the event while Global, CTV and the Sun covered WTT on the day of. We’re hoping many more people in the city are aware of this phenomenon now!


Mack being interviewed by Global

In addition to raising awareness about food trucks, Mack and I were happy to learn that we also accomplished our second goal of encouraging a vibrant downtown. Two separate business owners reported that they benefited from the spillover of WTT patrons into their establishments: Tres Carnales had one of their best days that Friday; and Credo was packed that evening, contrary to typical Friday nights. It was great to hear concrete examples of the neighbourhood directly benefitting from increased foot traffic – what other things could we do to animate downtown after 5?

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Hungry for food!

There is no doubt that What the Truck?! would not have happened without the support of many people. Thanks to our sponsors Responsible Hospitality Edmonton, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, Eat St., Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and Yelp. Thanks to all nine of our vendors, who worked tirelessly that night and continue to work every day to raise the bar of street food in Edmonton. And a special thanks to Thomas Scott and Marc Carnes (aka the Urban Monks DJs) for earning their badges in “extreme dj-ing” by battling the wind tunnel-like conditions to provide us with the perfect beats to dine by!

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DJs Thomas and Marc

We don’t yet know when WTT may again rear its tasty head again, but if you’d like to see more of such events, let us know! Thanks to everyone for coming out!

You can read Mack’s post about WTT here, and see his photoset here.

  • Thanks again for organizing!

    It’s great to hear about Credo and Tres Carnales being so busy because of an event downtown. You and Mack are proving that small really does make big change.

  • Kim

    Thanks for organizing the event!

    It was really unfortunate that some of the trucks didn’t seem prepared to handle the volume of the customers. For example, I queued for the Drift truck and easily took me ~45 minutes from lining up to make my order and then an additional ~10 minutes to get my food. Was it good? From an Edmonton perspective, I guess it is (I have to “deduct” some points for giving me the wrong order, something I didn’t realize until I walked away already and took the first bite). Don’t get me wrong: I do appreciate they took care in preparing the food; just that, due to the circumstances (specially it being windy), I didn’t necessarily enjoyed standing there!

    Nomad was good as well but, alas, after trying Roli Roti, in San Francisco, smoked porchetta falls slightly short! ^_^;;;

    After that, I became impatient and, rather than waiting, my friends and I just took off to Whyte Ave. If the trucks somehow managed to move the queues faster, it would be a GREAT improvement!

  • Jeff – thanks to you and Sally for your support!

    Kim – thank you for attending WTT, and for your feedback. The vendors recognized that their line ups were not ideal, but unless there were more trucks to help spread the crowds around, there wasn’t much that could be done. On the positive side, it really shows how much excitement there is about food trucks in Edmonton! We’re optimstic that more mobile food vendors will be joining the scene next summer. Until then…

  • Thanks for organizing the event!

    I enjoyed it sooo much!!
    I can’t wait for next year!!

    By the way, I saw you were there with your friends!

  • Thanks Sharon and Mack for organizing the event. Definitely admire the work and effort you put into the making of WTT. Although the line-ups were long, the hoards of hungry people flocking to DT is a testament to the hard work you put into promoting and organizing the event. Please reach out if you need help in planning the next one!

  • Bellavino

    It was a great event and even when the line ups got long, it was still worth the wait. I was very impressed with how patient everyone in line was, it could have gotten very ugly, very quickly with so many people around.
    My only complaint would have been that there didn’t seem to be enough garbage/recycling bins around the food trucks themselves. Since the line ups were so long, I was basically going from one line up to another & eating my items in the new line up. With no where to throw my garbage, I ended up holding on to it until I was out of my next lineup (up to 45min). I noticed quite a few other people with the same problem.
    A small issue in the big scheme of things but worth pointing out.
    Thanks again for a great event! I can’t wait until next time!

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  • Michael

    It might have been because it was really cold that day that I am sour, but the location needs to be changed to something less… constrictive – I didn’t know which line was for which vendor, so I just got in the shortest line that I could see went somewhere.

    New location, and possibly more trucks? Keep it up Sharon & Mack.


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