Sunday, April 29, 2012

Food Trucks Draw the Crowds to the StrEATS of Downtown Frisco!

For as long as I have had this blog, there have been two things have been constant: 1. people love food truck events and 2. people continually ask for the trucks to come to the cities in Collin County. This weekend, both of those things merged with Downtown Frisco StrEATS!  Ten food trucks, including, Nammi, Rockstar Bakeshop, Ssahm, Zombie, Cajun Tailgators, The Butcher's Son, So-Cal Tacos, Eat Jo Dawgs, Easy Slider and making their DFW debut, Coolhaus set up in Downtown Frisco for a Food Truck and Live Music Festival, with music being provided by School of Rock.

The event started at 3:00 and I arrived right around that time, in order not to have to stand in long lines for Coolhaus. It was a good plan on my part, my wait was less than 10 minutes and I had a tasty ice cream sandwich in hand and I was off to see the rest of the event.

The event had been promoted as family friendly and people turned out, by the hundreds, with families and pets in tow. This could have been one of the best food truck events that we have seen in DFW, but for one very important thing; there was no room to move.  The ten trucks and hundreds of attendees were crammed in to one city block. The trucks were set up so that two were in a very small parking lot to the side and the other 8 were on the street, nose to tail, 4 on each side of the street. Since this was not a major street, it was not wide  and the end result was that lines criss-crossed, attendees were confused about which lines were for which truck and the lines all met up in the middle.  Since this was a family friendly event, I had my toddler, in her small stroller with me. It was impossible to maneuver through the crowd with a stroller;  with that many people that close together I couldn't let her out to walk either. I apologize to everyone's legs and heels I bruised as I tried to go from one end of the street to the other.

The food trucks were prepared for such large crowds, with most not running out of food until the very end. I had talked to several trucks in advance of the event and we all agreed that this could be the largest attended food truck event, to date. We all knew the number of people in Collin County begging for trucks. I am not sure the event planners understood this otherwise, they would have spread the trucks out over several blocks, to allow for more room. The end result was that as I was leaving, an hour after the event started, for the sole reason that I couldn't maneuver with my child, I talked to three different families, who were leaving, for the same reason. None of those people had eaten at any truck. I posted on Facebook, to try to gauge other attendees reactions and got the same feedback; people showed up and many left without ever trying the food, just because of the layout.

Overall, a great turn-out, Frisco proved that the trucks are in high demand in the northern suburbs and the trucks have taken note.  Recommendations for the next event:

1. More Trucks. There could have been 3 - 5 more trucks, which would have shortened the line times for everyone, kept people from leaving and not had a significant impact to the volume each truck sold.

2. More Room. The standard is that each truck needs the equivalent of 3 parking spots, just to set up. This rule doesn't work well when the trucks are parked on both sides of  a neighborhood street.  Either have all the trucks on the same side of the street or space them so that they are staggered and the lines don't blend.

3. Change the Location. The people that I spoke to at the event suggested moving the event to Frisco Square. I recognize that one of the goals of this event was to bring attention to the downtown area and shops. For that reason, I recommend moving the event to Main Street, so that the foot traffic is directly in front of the store fronts. I would have liked to have visited the shops on Main Street but the traffic pattern was not conducive or encouraging of this.

4. Better estimate the potential number of attendees. I saw articles saying that the planners expected 500 - 1,000 attendees. There has not been an event of less than 1200 since the food trucks rolled in to DFW; especially when the trucks are in an area where they don't serve often. If the only advertising had been on my  own Facebook and Twitter pages, the reach is 5,400 and I was only one of many promoting the event.  The only way this event would have had 500 people was if it had rained on Saturday.

With these few minor changes, the next event in Frisco will be one of the best in the Metroplex.






7 comments :

  1. Great write up. I completely agree.
    If they don't want it at Frisco Square, move it to Main Street as you suggested.

    I got there around 4pm with my two little kids, my wife and a friend. We tried standing in line at So-Cal, but when we didn't move at all for 15 minutes, we went looking for a "shorter" line. We found it (or at least convinced ourselves that it was shorter) at Cajun Tailgators. It took us 50 minutes and even though the food was great, considering the heat and the lines, left and went to a restaurant nearby.
    So, obviously the demand is great and the idea was good, but the execution was lacking. With your suggested changes, I think they could have a great event at their hands for years to come.

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  2. My husband and I attend a lot of DFW city events and have been Frisco residents for 5 years. We had a good time. If you are from the city of Frisco you know several things:

    1. There are a lot of firsts still happening so we go with the flow and enjoy the vibe.
    2. The people are friendly and you can enjoy yourself in line too. We left 3 of 4 food truck lines exchanging pleasant good-byes with new acquaintances.
    3. The city saw the popularity and will make sure the next event is given its proper respects.

    I hope this line thing blows over, because on behalf of Frisco, we want the trucks back and the people too. We <3 food, fun and Frisco.

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  3. The only problem with this idea of featuring downtown businesses, is that were WEREN'T a lot of them around in the restaurant/bar/entertainment category. We arrived at 2:00PM, wanting to find a little bar or something to grab a drink and relax for a few before hitting the trucks, but there is nothing of the sort within reasonable walking distance of the event location. I concur with the author's complaints of space as well; the event planners WAY underestimated the turnout. Still, we got food from five trucks, and found almost all of it to be excellent.

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  4. While my wife and I loved the food from SoCal Tacos, after waiting about 45 minutes in line, we just weren't in the mood to hit another line and left. I love the food trucks, but I typically won't wait that long for any restaurant. However, the food was great, and I hope they'll come back more often.

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  5. Great feedback. And I agree, I think it's good to keep it downtown. I'd also love to see some food trucks at the farmer's market on Saturday!

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  6. i agree wholeheartedly with pretty much every sentiment expressed in this writeup. well said. that said, i thought it was a fantastic event and hope it leads to many more, better planned, semi-monthly events. my family and i made a day out of it so we came prepared w/ lawn chairs, waters, and a bunch of friends so we could spread out and tackle the truck lines w/out the individuals having to wait in every line. that made for a great day and a great way to try out a lot of the trucks.

    also, welcome to dfw, coolhaus.

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  7. If the event were held at Frisco Square (BTW - there's a ton of open space there!) it would be:

    1)visible from Main street if not from the TOllway. I had trouble finding the 4th street location 'cause I assumed it would be held in a more visible spot.

    2) Extremely accessible and family friendly.

    3) Main St. vendors (both of them!! LOL - Joking but we aren't talking huge numbers) could have booths at Frisco Square showing their goods and explaining their proximity to Frisco Square.
    Having it on Main st. would be ok if traffic were blocked but the sidewalks are narrow and as I remember not very level or in great shape.

    Should say, the food was great and these ideas are presented as constructive criticism. I'm for any event/restaurant that doesn't involve another fast food menu!!
    Thanks!

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