Chowdermobile: Eats from Half Moon Bay Spread Across the Bay Area

By Anastasia Crosson | Patch.com

“We’re getting rid of that roach coach stigma,” says Juan Hurtado, Director of Mobile Operations for the Chowdermobile.

Like the iconic Half Moon Bay restaurant Sam’s Chowderhouse, the food-on-wheels Chowdermobile strives to follow the stringent sustainable-seafood guidelines suggested by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The guidelines have become a standard for restaurants touting the local, sustainable slow food movement.

Hurtado manages Chowdermobile’s small team of four and oversees the process and menu quality of the food truck’s offerings, including the shrimp po’ boy sandwich and Maine lobster roll.

Hurtado also insists on quality ingredients in the ready-made drinks and other snacks customers can buy, including Kettle brand chips, advertised as all-natural chips made with renewable energy sources, and Boylan soda pop,  a naturally-flavored drink that contains no high fructose corn syrup.

“Everything that is served on this truck, all of the items are sustainable,” says Hurtado.

The food truck has served sustainable seafood fare to the likes of hungry Facebook employees at an event called “Hackathon,” and foodies attending SJ Eats, a first-ever food truck festival in San Jose.

Chowdermobile parks and serves at locations throughout the Bay Area, including Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, campuses of high-tech companies (including Google and Vishay), and private events.

Social media keeps Chowdermobile fans in-the-know of the next location on the mobile eatery’s agenda. The Chowdermobile’s twitter following is over 5,000 tweeps strong.

“Twitter is imperative to mobile food trucks,” said Hurtado. “It’s our main communication with our customers. You hear feedback everyday.”

On a good day, Hurtado says the truck will fill about 200 food orders. (Reporter’s note: I met up with the Chowdermobile on a sunny Saturday in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. The truck had tweeted that the menu was sold-out long before the end of the day.)

Rain or shine, Chowdermobile can usually expect to draw a crowd.  “Even if it’s raining, people will stand in line. Sometimes you will see a line of 40 umbrellas,” Hurtado says.

Camille Sibucao is one of the mobile eatery’s dedicated followers.  As an employee of the De Young Museum, she often orders a Chowdermobile shrimp po’boy for lunch when the truck parks-and-serves at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. “The food is great,” says Sibucao.

Lunch service is the mainstay for Chowdermobile, but Hurtado says the truck may soon extend its typical 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. lunch hours at select locations, including “dinner runs” for tech companies.