By Brian Passey | The Spectrum
Do you ever get a craving for your favorite food truck but feel frustrated by trying to track it down?
Food trucks are still a relatively new phenomenon for Southern Utah, so figuring out the culture may also be a little daunting for some potential customers.
Well now there is something that just might help with both of these issues. Local food trucks are now gathering three times a week in a single location to provide both variety and accessibility.
“It’s so nice because everyone can pick their own thing,” says Meghan McLeod, a St. George resident whose family has started to make regular visits to the Food Truck Roundup on Monday evenings in the parking lot of Hurst General Store/Ace Hardware in St. George. “We’re here every week.”
Food trucks began gathering at the hardware store on Bluff Street, just north of St. George Boulevard, earlier this year.
The parking lot is the regular spot for World’s Best Corndogs, one of the longer-running food trucks. But these other food trucks were not infringing on the corndog truck’s territory; rather they were there by invitation — the idea that working together could create more business for all.
“Everybody’s so nice,” says Joni Sowell, owner of Nacho Mama, one of the food trucks that frequents the Roundup. “There’s just a camaraderie. Everyone gets along and helps out.”
Serenity Barlow, who owns Loaded, a food truck serving stuffed burgers, says the variety tends to draw in customers. Although there was a smaller turnout of food trucks this Monday night, the Roundup still offer nachos, burgers and both waffle trucks: Waffle Bliss and Waffle Love.
The carnival atmosphere provided by the variety could be part of what draws in the crowds, Barlow says. Aside from this past week’s low food truck turnout, the event seems to grow each week, she says.
And the Monday Food Truck Roundup is not the only weekly event like this. On Wednesdays many of the St. George food trucks travel north to Cedar City where they hold court in the Hurst Ace Hardware there. Some speculate that the trucks will begin spending more time in Cedar City’s higher elevations as the temperatures rise in St. George through the summer.
Friday also boasts a food truck gathering at Findlay Hyundai in St. George. The Findlay Food Truck Friday is typically a lunchtime affair, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. while the Monday and Wednesday events often take in both lunch and dinner, though it varies by truck.
Sowell says Nacho Mama normally arrives at the Roundup around 4 p.m. on Monday nights and stays until 8 p.m. or so. The rush is usually around 6 p.m.
The downside is that the food trucks reportedly are not allowed to provide tables and chairs for their customers. So people have to either take their food home or bring their own chairs or blankets to put down on the asphalt.
“Families come and they kind of tailgate,” Sowell says.
The Cantor family of Washington City is relatively new to the Food Truck Roundup. Stacia Cantor and her parents came for the first time on March 23 and returned again on Monday. She says it reminds her of a food truck gathering she once visited in San Francisco.
“It’s kind of nice to have something like that here,” she says, noting that she especially appreciates having something to do on a typically slow Monday night.
Jared Hurst, who helps run the family-owned hardware store that hosts the event, says it reminds him of a food truck gathering he visited in Portland. But the gathering is about more than just publicity for his store.
“It brings a good energy to our parking lot and to Bluff Street,” he says. “It’s important to keep Bluff Street vibrant.”
Food trucks or carts serving barbecue, donuts, tamales and chicken have all been a part of at least one of these local food truck gatherings at some point. Yet no matter which food trucks show up, variety is guaranteed and that seems to the be the selling point for the food truck foodies who follow them around.