Want to take your summer party to the next level? Hire a food truck ...
Not keen on laboring over a hot barbecue to feed your summer soiree? Want to try something more interesting than a typical catered meal? Whether you’re planning a reunion, a graduation party, or even a wedding reception, a food truck offers a unique alternative to feed your guests.
The nationwide food truck trend has blossomed in the Chippewa Valley in the last couple of years, and now there are more than a dozen mobile food operations in the area eager to serve up great eats and good memories. We asked a few food truck proprietors for tips on booking their services for private events.
WILL A FOOD TRUCK COME TO MY EVENT?
Yes! As long as they’ve got the date free and you can pay the fee, a food truck is likely to come to your event. While some are now licensed to set up shop in certain parks and streets in the city of Eau Claire (more on that later), you’re still more likely to find them at private events. For Jim Davis, proprietor of David Dogs, that means doing a little of everything, from block parties to graduations to baptisms (as well as larger events, such as music festivals and UW-Eau Claire’s Homecoming).
BOOK THEM EARLY ...
“The food trucks, not just me, have started booming,” Davis says. “Mine has definitely boomed from last year to this year. I have turned down so many jobs.” He credits that growth to his easygoing nature and his 100-percent beef hot dogs. Whatever the reason, Davis is sometimes booked a year in advance: He’s already scheduled to serve up dogs at a wedding next summer! He advises to reserve a food truck far in advance: “To be honest, you have to call me in March to get the day you want,” he says. Otherwise, you’re taking your chances.
… ALTHOUGH YOU MIGHT GET LUCKY
Joy Falch, who operates The Marigold Mobile Cafe with her sister, Sue Miller, has also seen her business continue to grow as she enters her fourth season. And while her calendar starts filling up in January, there are always some open dates. If you want a food truck on short notice, try planning your event for a Sunday, she suggests.
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR FUN
Food trucks aren’t run-of-the-mill catering operations. Each one has its own specialized menu and character. The Marigold, for example, offers a cafe atmosphere (Italian fare, chic tables, bright flowers) without the brick-and-mortar cafe. The menu includes the likes of paninis, gelato, and semifreddo (grilled Italian cake). Davis Dogs, on the other hand, brings meal-sized hot dogs dressed in any way you can imagine, from Chicago-style to bacon-wrapped and deep-fried. Other food trucks in the Valley offer Mexican fare, barbecue, pizza, and even locally sourced gourmet burgers.
KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN
If you can’t bring a food truck to your party, why not bring your party to a food truck? Many of them post their daily whereabouts online, particularly on Facebook. You may find them set up on private property or in some public parks. In addition, thanks to a recent change in the City of Eau Claire’s ordinance, you’re likely to see more of them around town. In May, the City Council cut food truck license fees, expanded hours of operation, and opened more areas to food trucks (particularly near brick-and-mortar restaurants, as long as those restaurants grant permission). “I think everyone is really going to go and give that a try,” Falch says of the new ordinance’s impact. “The city really did us a favor by re-looking at it and giving us the opportunity.”