Agency experience without agency attitude.

Tucson Food Truck Scene Hits Mainstream

December 5, 2011 Roundup at Dinnerware Artspace. Photo: Roy Chamberlin

I first wrote about food trucks back in July 2010, before the new wave of gourmet trucks had hit the Old Pueblo. At the time I wrote, “While Austin, New York, and other cities have jumped on this trend, Tucson has merely dipped its toe into the water. I remember a hip ice cream truck appearing a few years ago at a MOCA event and I also heard rumors of a cupcake vendor. I know there are some out there but I don’t have the full scoop. Please let me know!!”

Fast forward 18 months and here we are in the midst of a local love fest with food trucks. I organized the first Roundup with David Aguirre on November 14, 2011 at Dinnerware Artspace. We had a handful of trucks and dozens of urban adventurers eager to take part in the phenomenon that had already landed in other parts of the country. KOLD 13 broadcast live form the event, Channel 4 shot footage, and we landed articles in a number of print and online publications. It was clear we had tapped into Tucson’s collective foodie unconscious.

January 29, 2012 Roundup at Benjamin Supply Parking Lot. Photo: Roy Chamberlin

After Dinnerware left 119 E. Toole at the end of 2011, it took the Roundup on the road, to the Benjamin Supply Parking Lot on the corner of 7th Avenue and 6th Street, and also to Marana. When over a thousand people and 25 plus trucks showed up to the January 9 Roundup at Benjamin Supply, I knew the trend had hit the mainstream. We had already received a great deal of news coverage with very little effort (see links at Tucson Food Trucks website and requests for trucks and more Roundups starting flooding in to our Facebook page and newly formed website (a partnership between myself and Jennifer Vasko). A new event will kick off Friday at Bookmans – Food Truck Friday – and I’m sure we will see other promoters jumping into the fray.

I think we will see a few things happening over the next several months. The trucks will form (or begin the process of forming) some type of association a la the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association (SoCalMFVA). We had a new crop of trucks in January – Street Kitchen, Jones Street Bistro, Animal Farm, and Foodie Fleet, to name a few – and I believe we will see some more trucks joining the fun. We also may see some leaving the scene. It is not an easy business. Long hours prepping food, cooking and serving long lines from a cramped indoors space. But the joys seem to be worth it. Smiles on people’s faces as they sample a currywurst or Korean taco for the first time. Tucsonans feeling like they have a place to get food that they can afford. People mingling in the community atmosphere as they share bites of whoopie pies and sweet potato fries.

Is it a food revolution? In some small ways I believe yes, it is.