I have always been a fan of food trucks. Quick and convenient comfort food that a brick and mortar restaurant can’t provide. Last year I went and saw the movie “Chef”. After coming out of the theater two things were on my mind. First, I really wanted a Cuban style sandwich and secondly, we need more Food Trucks in Worcester.
Worcester has been very unfriendly to food trucks over the years imposing restrictions, that local food truck owner Mark Gallant says, “….legislated food trucks almost out of business.” But over the last year the City Council, along with City Manager Ed Augustus, have been willing to lift those restrictions and Worcester is already seeing the benefits.
This winter the City has started “Food Truck’s on the Common” every Thursday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm to cater to the lunch crowd downtown. Three trucks participate in this “pilot” program the city has launched, Press’n it, which makes flavor full panini’s soups and salads, Say Cheese, which makes gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and Gallant’s The Dogfather Truck, which serves up some pretty tasty hot dogs and chili.
The fact that this program is successful in the winter months just goes to show how the public perceives Food Truck’s in Worcester. If you have attended the Food Truck Festival on Park Ave during the summer, it is not uncommon to wait in line for an hour for one of the tasty meals that this festival serves up. It is a great family affair, as you can sit and enjoy your meals in Elm Park.
The Food Truck Revolution is also taking a new twist with the opening of Whiskey on Water. Rather than serving food in their establishment, they will have a rotating selection of Food Trucks in the back of the restaurant preparing orders that patrons can order from an app inside the bar. That is brilliant, two birds, one stone.
Gallant has been building what he calls a “Food Truck Commissary” and is raising funds to get him over the top. The Commissary will be a “base of operations” for food trucks. It will be a place where local food trucks, both existing and new, can come to prep and store food, clean and sanitize their trucks and group together for buying power. “My main goal is to help aspiring food trucks to navigate the permit process and get started on their dream.” Gallant said through his website.
This is not your regular “Go Fund Me” page that people just donate too. Gallant is selling “perks” which include discounts, shirts, gift certificates among other things to help raise the money. Straight donations are an option as well. He has an online site with details of the project and how to support.
Food Trucks are great and I think the city needs to re-assess the ordinances regarding them. The new laws have forced them out of ball fields and parks where there is no alternative. The city needs to make it easier for food trucks to do business, not harder. They should continue to be tough on inspections and hold them to the same standards as any restaurant. They should have other areas, such as the Common that welcomes them there. The Canal District is very supportive of small businesses and would certainly welcome a “Food Truck Lot”. I would even take it one step further and have food truck festivals every weekend at local parks such as Institute, East, or Green Hill Parks and incorporate local musicians and make it a weekly concert atmosphere. They should be available on more than the couple Sunday nights that already exist. They need to take from the old sports adage “Go Big or Go Home”. It is time that we start recognizing these small businesses and allow them to flourish in all areas of the city.