In addition to parking lots providing a future for food trucks, the next few years will see a massive embrace of the trend by companies much bigger than the independent chefs who have driven it this far. We recently saw the Little Debbie car roll into town, followed two days later by Ketel One’s chef-driven party truck. Naturally, any corporate marketing department would be crazy to ignore the potential in "street food" festivals that pack in thousands or trucks that generate endless publicity just for existing, and today we see two new truck-heavy events sponsored by big companies on their way. So, who’s rolling down the road?
At the end of this month, Rick Caruso’s Americana at Brand in Glendale is throwing its own "Street Feast," which will bring the new Dim Sum Truck together with trucks like Grilled Cheese, Mandoline, Frysmith, and Coolhaus to the mall space on March 30th. Further completing the "feast" part of this "street" festival will be specials at high-end sushi chain Katsuya, wine from Trattoria, and food from Frida and Jewel City Diner. The event is sure to be a big draw, but to be clear, which "street" are we talking about? Caruso Avenue, of course, named for the developer behind The Grove, The Lakes, and other massive mall developments.
We also got hit up by the forces behind Leblon Cachaca, who tell us an ice-cream truck was converted into their "Caipi mobile" and will hit L.A. and O.C. this summer to hand out caipirinha-flavored sorbet. The press release also informs us Leblon will be "taking to the streets" for Brazilian-themed "capri hours" with free samples of caipirinha. By the streets we assume they mean clubs, as serving liquor out of cars probably won’t happen in our lifetimes.
Just as food trucks continue to multiply and trucks like Calbi get franchised, we’ll no doubt see more food truck shenanigans backed by big players. Hopefully, the spirit and ability to thrive will remain for independent food vendors with creative visions. And as long as they keep the free food and drink flowing for all, maybe the embrace of mobile caterers by highly-paid marketing teams isn’t an entirely unwelcome addition to our streets. Both the real and make-believe ones.
How do you feel seeing food trucks embraced by big companies? Let us know in the comments.