Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to bring you a guest post from Mike Kelley, a software and business consultant from Arlington, TX. Mike approached us and offered to share his experiences from the Texas Food Truckin’ Fest with the entire FoodTruckr community, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to hand over the reins today so that you can hear about this awesome event from a fan’s perspective!
In this post, Mike recaps the event and shares some of the small details that made four trucks in particular really stand out to him. Tomorrow, he’ll return with another great article highlighting six ways to make lasting memories with your fans. You can also check out his photo gallery from the event.
Take it away, Mike!
The second annual Texas Food Truckin’ Fest in Arlington, Texas was held at Globe Life Park over the weekend of April 25th—and it was a great success. Sponsored by the Texas Rangers and Experience Arlington (a nonprofit organization that promotes local tourism), the event featured 40 food trucks, live bands, and entertainment for children along with a safe environment for the whole family.
Food truck owners were encouraged to create sampler menu items under $5 to promote their offerings. It was also a great opportunity for food trucks to gain exposure, promote their brands, and make contacts for future catering and event gigs. Though there was a wide range of food trucks available, there were a few that truly distinguished and set themselves apart from the rest. I’d like to share a few of my favorite trucks with you and highlight the factors that made each one a success.
The Food Station by D. Cares—Common Dishes with a Unique Twist
There was one item that caught my eye when I first approached this truck— the “Mac ‘n Cheese with Lobster.” I was impressed by the way this food truck featured a common, everyday menu item and then focused on a small twist to make it unique and different. And just like the food, the D. Cares business model is also unique. The Food Station is a not-for-profit gourmet food truck that does catering and works events to raise money for its nutritional enrichment programs.
Overall, the food was awesome—pleasing to the appetite and to your conscience, allowing you to know that you’re supporting a good cause while still satisfying your hunger.
Say Kimichi—Introducing Foreign Cuisines
“Say Kimichi” isn’t just this food truck’s name—it’s also their slogan. I have to admit that I wasn’t quite sure what kimichi was when I first heard the phrase. However, I quickly learned that kimichi is Korea’s national dish and that there are hundreds of varieties made with cabbage, radishes, scallions, or cucumbers as the main ingredient. The vegetables are traditionally fermented and seasoned with a variety of flavors both spicy and sour.
Here in Texas, there aren’t a lot of Korean restaurants—and this food truck gave the public the opportunity to try something different that they may have never tried before. I had the Kimichi Fries, which were made with traditional, freshly cut French fries and topped with potatoes, meat, fried kimichi, onions, and cilantro—and then topped again with Sriracha and their special sauce. Every Texan loves French fries. We put chili, cheese, and even our famous barbeque on them. This menu item gave people the opportunity to try something they already enjoy with a new and exciting twist. Other kimichi twists included the Korean wiener, Korean tacos, and a chilly cheese steak sandwich—all, of course, including kimichi as a topping. After visiting this food truck, I will have to admit that I can see myself saying kimichi a lot more often than I have in the past!
Mo’ Joe A Go-Go Coffee Truck—A Food… Coffee Truck?
The event may have been called the “Texas Food Truckin’ Fest,” but that didn’t stop one truck from bucking the meal trend and serving up only tasty beverages. Coffee trucker Matt grew up in Washington, an area known for its gourmet and high quality coffee cafes—but here in Texas, those places are far and few between. Matt saw an opportunity to bring fantastic coffee to the Lone Star State. After all, finding a place that makes great coffee can sometimes be a difficult task. Let’s face it—coffee is a lot like pizza. There’s the norm, the good, and if you’re lucky, the great. Mo’ Joe strives for the great.
When Matt gave up his corporate marketing and advertising executive position, he knew that there was a niche market to bring the great coffee people are accustomed to in the Pacific Northwest to Texas. The only problem is that Dallas is spread out over a large area, and getting customers to make the trip to a shop across town could be next to impossible. The solution? Go to the customer! Mo’ Joe offers everything you would expect from a high-class Pacific Northwest coffee café: specialty coffees; espresso drinks; organic, vegan smoothies and frappes; teas; and other delicious treats that are free of high-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, artificial flavors, and preservatives. There’s no doubt about it—Matt at Mo’ Joe brews a great cup of coffee that’s unlike anything else you’ll find around town!
The Great Australian Meat Pie Company—Australian Comfort Food, Texas-Style
Eating at this food truck was just like eating at a traditional Australian or English pub. When you first approach the ordering window, you get the feeling that you’re not going to just get good food—you’re also going to get an experience.
FoodTruckr Bailey does a great job of making customers feel like they’re not eating at a food truck, but at a restaurant. His menu features Texas-size portions and ingredients from traditional Australian favorites. The truck also has a large canopy, seating, and a staff that dresses like professional chefs. You’ll often find employees engaging customers outside the truck, making sure that every “guest” feels like they are number one. The truck is clean inside and out, and the impression you get is that this is a VERY professionally run food truck—one that even Gordon Ramsey would be proud of.
Of all of the food trucks I encountered at the Texas Food Truckin’ Fest, The Great Australian Meat Pie Company was my favorite. Bailey tells great stories about his adventures, and the food was awesome.
I really enjoyed the Texas Food Truckin’ Fest, and I definitely plan on attending again. There was a great number of trucks at the event—not so many that I felt overwhelmed trying to make a choice, but enough to offer a wide variety of cuisine and styles. I also learned that the event planners are looking into expanding this event—hoping to hold two fests each year and also hosting smaller “Food Truck Nights” during the summer. Events like this are great opportunities for FoodTruckrs and fans alike, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
image from Say Kimchi’s Facebook page