Monday, August 27, 2012

DFW Food Truck Events: A One Year Look

A year ago tonight was the first Dallas food truck event.  I blogged about the Sigel's Food Truck Rally here.    This was the event that made everyone recognize that the food trucks were going to be a force to reckoned with in Dallas. This was the event that showed how Dallas was going to embrace the food trucks. This was the event that showed the trucks that there would be greater success in grouping themselves rather than scattering around the city and working separately.

So, have the trucks and events evolved in DFW?  Absolutely!

At the Sigel's event, there were nine trucks. Nine trucks setting up together is an almost daily event now. At the time it seemed like there could never be a larger grouping of trucks and at the same time it did not seem like enough.  Today, to be considered "a large event" there has to be at least twenty trucks serving.

It was hot!  105 degrees when the event opened and yet there were thousands of people there. People were getting sick, including at least one ambulance transport.  This year, everyone was mindful of the heat and there were no large events in August. (Ironically there were many events with 9 trucks in August)

The trucks were overwhelmed. Many of the truck owners have told me that they did not know what to expect that night and went into the event as prepared as they could have been, but still not well enough.  With over 2,000 people in attendance, every truck was at maximum capacity and each truck would average over two hundred tickets in the four hours of the event. Even today, there are many trucks that have not done 200 tickets in a full day of service. By comparison, at the Texas Truck Festival in May, there were 10,000 people, with twenty-five trucks or an average of 400 tickets over a 15 hour event, twice as many tickets in over three times the length of service.

There were twelve trucks permitted in Dallas last August.  Three trucks were not at the event but the remaining Dallas trucks were serving. By comparison, there are now thirty-eight trucks with Dallas permits and another eight Fort Worth trucks that come to Dallas regularly for special events. Interestingly, the vast majority of these nine trucks are still serving. Mister Cool was never a roaming truck and I don't know their status but the rest are still operating, albeit Three Men and a Taco has been rebranded as Three Lions.  Those trucks that were at Sigel's that night continue to be the most popular trucks and were not only early leaders but remain as leaders in the DFW food truck scene.

In the last year Dallas trucks and event planners have learned how to handle the nine  truck events. The less frequent  twenty-plus truck events are still are the topic of discussion, with room for improvement. But overall for the trucks and the events, to sum up a 70s slogan, "You've come a long way, baby".

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