Food Truck Friday Follow Up

Apr 7th, 2012
By Clint Jolly

Last night marked a turning point in Reno’s food culture. It was a night where competitors got together and created a synergy of brands that earned an amazing turnout for a kick off event. It proved that there is power in smart collaborations and that Reno will come out to support something different, fun and family oriented in the foodservice space.

Before we get too far into this, THANK YOU to all of the folks that braved the chill, full parking lots, long lines and traffic to support these businesses. THANK YOU to all of the vendors that stepped up and made a difference in our little blossoming foodie scene here in Reno. THANK YOU to the city for opening up a previously dead space for a great community event. And finally a HUGE THANK YOU to Haley Wood and Jessie Watnes of Gourmelt for spearheading this event and making it happen.

I wrote about this a while back and loved the idea from the beginning. I am so happy that it turned out to be bigger and better than I had hoped. I cruised in right about 6 as the event started and there was a decent crowd forming already. My first stop was to the Sauce Wagon to grab a brisket sammie. My first time trying their brisket and it was just as good as expected- good smoke, fall apart tender, not too salty and some tasty sauce. Then a long wait in line for Dish Truck for a Reuben. I was happy to see that the sandwich was just as good as what they serve in their restaurant, nothing was lost when served from the truck. Crispy marbled rye, tender meat, yummy kraut and their own sweet Russian dressing with a handful of fresh fried chips on the side. I ran out of time for another stop but I have tried all of the trucks by now and none of them will disappoint.

I stopped and chatted with folks throughout the night to get a feel for what they thought of the event. Some of the general statements-

  • People love the concept
  • Parking was a bit of a pain with an Aces game the same night
  • I heard mixed reviews about the beer garden not allowing beverages outside of their ropes
  • The lines were too long and the wait was a bit too much
  • The music, while decent and entertaining, didn’t fit the vibe of the crowd.

Overall everyone was excited to see this happening in Reno. It’s a fun and cool concept that is more than welcomed by the community from what I can see. I saw plenty of people in multiple lines, grabbing a bite here and a bite there. I loved seeing this happen as that’s one of the coolest things about the concept- a group can all eat what they like and everyone is happy.

I didn’t have any issues parking, pulled right into the CommRow garage and was at the event in minutes for $5. I did hear a bit later that people were having a some issues finding parking. An Aces game starting roughly the same time added a little stress to the parking situation. In my opinion we don’t have much of a parking issue in downtown. Visit Seattle, San Francisco or the like on a weekend when multiple events are going on and you’ll see what I mean :)

I didn’t ever make it to the beer garden but saw quite a decent crowd over there. Great Basin Brewing was pouring their beer and you know they always please. I did hear some discontent in the fact that beer could not leave the roped off area. I spoke to one good friend who was waiting in line for food as her friends grabbed beer for the group. Of course the setup didn’t allow that and I would guess they weren’t the only ones to tackle the lines in this fashion. I have mixed emotions on this….. I like that the alcohol element is controlled to keep people from imbibing too much and preventing issues with minors drinking. But, it would be nice to enjoy your beer along with some food. I didn’t think to double check, but from the size of the area I don’t believe that there were seats or tables there to take food into the area. Hopefully a good compromise will be found here in future events.

Due to the huge turnout the lines got quite long at the peak of the event around 7-7:30. The trucks were cranking out food as quick as they could from their tiny kitchens and I would guess that they may have been a bit under-prepared for the crowd that turned up. I didn’t notice any people too upset and leaving, but there was plenty of talk about it in the lines. I also ran into a few people that showed up and left without eating because of the wait. If I were running this event, I would keep plans the same for the next one on May 4th but set things up to increase the frequency for the rest of the summer if the turnout was comparable. I can only imagine that better weather, more tourists and the 30,000 or so visitors we will have to the bowling stadium in the next few months will only provide larger crowds. Offering the event every other week or maybe every week will hopefully soften the crowd a bit. I also think it would be helpful for the trucks to try to speed up ordering by having someone walk the line and grab orders. Of course you have to not overload the small kitchen and make people wait on that end.

The tunes provided by locals Daylight Roots were interesting and fun. I personally enjoyed most of what I heard from them. But, I think it was a bit too modern and outside of mainstream to please the majority of the crowd. They played well, but I heard and saw many people not really getting into it. The volume got a bit loud at times too. To the point that I found myself yelling while I was halfway across the courtyard. Luckily it got turned down a bit and was much more manageable.

Overall I would say it was a huge success!!! Easily one of the best kick offs for a foodie event I’ve seen in this town. Any of the negatives I covered here are easily taken care of and are definitely overshadowed by the huge positives that came with the event.

Congrats Reno- we are moving up in the foodie world yet again!!! As usual, I forgot to snap pictures….. But, check out the post on Downtown Makeover for great pictures as usual.

Your thoughts? Did you go to the event? Why, or why not? Will you go on May 4th?

 

Chef Clint Jolly is a Reno native who has spent most his life in the search of great food. The owner of Great Thyme Catering is happy to see a food revolution taking place in Reno and northern Nevada. You can read more from Clint on his personal blog

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikevanh Mike Van Houten

    I agree with the music. I left before the live band started, before that it was a bizarre mix of dubstep and classical music?
    I had no issues parking, we parked in the Bowling Stadium parking garage for $5. I’m thinking that if a lot of people complained about parking, they just didn’t know where to park. Only 3,700 people attended the Aces game tonight (yikes) so it’s not like it was a sell-out crowd at the Aces…I felt like there was more at the food truck event. The lines were long but I got in early. I saw some ancy people but considering GourMelt alone has nearly 4,000 followers on Facebook alone, I think a lot of people were fans of the trucks supporting them, and are used to the wait times. Was great to see so many families downtown. This will be off the hook when it gets warmer and if this is any indication of how downtown will draw people in the summer, well let’s just say I am excited and it’s been a long time coming.

  • http://clintjolly.com/ Clint Jolly

    The same band played through the night with the addition of some rapping later. As I said, I didn’t hate it at all but didn’t think it fit the crowd.
    And yes, you’re right on the parking. I had no issues but was there early. Just heard a few folks mention they “couldn’t find a spot”…. Maybe they were looking for street parking which goes first?
    Summer will turn this event into something insane! Can’t wait :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/haleywood Haley Wood

    Thank you for your kind words, Clint. It was a challenge to plan an event at a never before used venue. We weren’t even sure it would be ready in time! But the space seemed to work perfectly. We are amazed and overwhelmed at the amount of people that showed up. There is definitely a learning curve, especially concerning the beer garden. We will probably try to extend it to the entire venue. Cost was an issue with that one. No one was sure of the turnout and we were nervous to pay the high costs of police presence to be able to have a bigger alcohol area. As far as the music goes, we have a really diverse lineup, from what you heard last night to stuff like Blunderbusst, The Mighty Surf Lords, and Seas & Centuries. I’m not sure there is a type of music that everyone can agree on but we tried to mix it up.

    I’m sure all the trucks learned a big lesson last night, prepare more! With many trucks running out of food early, the burden fell on the remaining few and made the wait really long. GourMelt served around 300 people in 3 hours. We spent the time cleaning up after talking about how we could be faster but I don’t have a solution, as you said we have a tiny kitchen. Looks like we need more food trucks!

    Thank you for coming and writing about it! We will continue to fine tune the event. Cheers!

  • Patti Pestana

    My husband and I went and were glad we got there early.

    We hit up the beer garden first. We enjoyed the brew from Great Basin Brewing, but were disappointed in the small area we had to corale in. It’s a shame you couldn’t walk around with your beers and enjoy them with the food.

    Our first stop was the Sauce Wagon and the ribs were fantastic!

    Next was a beef dog from BoDawgs. Really good!

    While we wanted another beer and to try another truck, the lines had become just too long.

    The music was good and parking, not too bad.

    We are looking forward to trying it again next month. Hopefully there will be some changes to the beer garden area and lines at the trucks will move a bit smoother.

    Food Truck Friday is such a great idea for Reno.

  • http://clintjolly.com/ Clint Jolly

    Thanks for sharing Haley. I’m hoping that the post doesn’t come across as too negative. I really absolutely love the event and just wanted to share some constructive points about my observations. I’m happy to hear that you’re already looking at making some positive adjustments. I’m always happy to help in anyway that I can! And big thanks again for stepping up and putting yourself out there to create something great. You’re the kind of leader we need in our town.
    Does Reno even have any more food trucks?!?!

  • http://clintjolly.com/ Clint Jolly

    Thanks Patti! I appreciate your support for the Reno food scene. Seems that I always see you at the events and see your posts about the ones that I miss.
    All of these trucks are turning out great food, and the crowd showed that the community will support them.
    See you there in May! :)

  • Bwoods4

    The Mighty Surf Lords are excited to be a part of this event. We wont be out there until August 3rd, which gives this event time to become huge! We will definitely come out to the May event and check it all out. Thanks for keeping your eye on this Clint!

  • http://www.facebook.com/haleywood Haley Wood

    Not negative at all! I totally agree with everything you said. There will be at least one more truck next month, Red Truck. And although they turned us down initially, one of the Hispanic trucks stopped by as we were setting up and wanted to be involved in the next one. Thanks again!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.devincenzi Larry DeVincenzi

    It was a great event. Parking was easy, the crowd seemed well behaved, and the location was great for our community.

    If two lines per truck were roped off – one for ordering, one for pick up, it might have made a bit more order out of the process.

    I wasn’t a fan of the music, it seemed a bit out-of-step with the family crowd we seemed to be surrounded by. But music of any form would be welcome in that setting – and we were there early in the evening and didn’t stay to hear it all.

    One thing… the venue really needs to be cleaned up. We went to find a place to sit and eat, but there was vomit around two of the seating areas – and that caused us to leave and eat in our cars.

    When the weather warms up, the crowds will really come down there, and it’s going to be a huge hit in the summer.

    I echo Clint’s sentiments…THANK YOU for helping move our foodie culture forward!

  • http://clintjolly.com/ Clint Jolly

    Awesome Billy. I’m putting that one on the calendar for sure!!! And yes, by August you guys should have one heck of a large crowd to play for!

  • http://clintjolly.com/ Clint Jolly

    Awesome Haley! I guess I forgot That Red Truck was supposed to be there…. They’ll be a welcome addition!

  • http://clintjolly.com/ Clint Jolly

    Thanks Larry! I like the ordering and pick up line ideas. I really think the folks were a bit conservative in their estimation of the turnout. Looks like they all were happy with it and will be better prepared for huge crowds in the future.
    As for the site, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean it was. Maybe I missed some things…. I would guess the city will be happy to scrub it down a bit for next time.
    Sorry I missed ya- cheers!

    Clint Jolly
    Chef | Strategist | Entrepreneur
    Great Thyme | FoodBizWiz
    Mobile Phone: 775-772-8447
    Email: clint@clintjolly.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/haleywood Haley Wood

    Thanks Larry! Sorry to hear about the mess. The city pressure washed the site that morning so that must have been during the event. Someone can’t hold their beer! Eww.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=758009288 Jason Spencer

    The use of this venue for this event was inspired. I was wondering what they were going to do with this area when the buses left.
    I was surprised at the amount of folks that showed considering this was a new event to the city. I didn’t personally hear many complaints and when I did it was about the cold once the sun went down.
    I really dug the music. While it did get a bit loud at times I thought it was cool to see something a little different being tried when it came to entertainment.
    I’m sure the issues will be worked out when the next one comes around.

  • the dude

    Nice success but not the best location. why not makes the mapes plaza or the vast cement area running over the train trench the spot? is it too close to the casinos for comfort? the bus station is way too small for the hordes that will come down when it warms up. still a very encouraging show of non casino culture!

  • Sarah Scattini

    I thought that it was a great turnout and the music was fun and different and I saw kids, parents and everyone in the crowd, heads were bobbin, it was cool!!!! The lines were extra long everywhere but it’s hard to know what to plan for for a first time event! Overall Great Time and can’t wait until Summer when its Warmer outside!

  • Charles K.

    All I can say is HELL YEAH, what an awesome event for the local food companies! Lines were long, though I anticipated this but couldn’t be happier! Sometimes you need to spend a Friday night with good friends, standing in long lines and getting your drink and grub on! I did see how the beer section was a bit crowded and maybe in the upcoming months they can put this section down in the pit where the music was playing. Speaking of the music, it’s nice to see the diversity of what’s going on nowadays. Though I’m a bit out of the loop, it’s really cool to see something fresh out there, extremely entertaining and live! In short, the food was AMAZING, the environment was AWESOME and we had a BLAST! Thanks to everyone for putting this on, and we can’t wait until the weather gets a little nicer outside!!!