INDUSTRY – Foodies in the San Gabriel Valley have reason to rejoice.
The burgeoning gourmet food truck trend has found a home at SpeedZone, where a festival of mobile eateries is now a monthly event.
“This is my first food truck festival,” said Anvinh Nguyen of Fontana, whose group was waiting in line at its third truck of the night. “I was surprised there were so many.”
About 2,000 people were expected to chow down Friday on restaurant-quality fare offered by 16 food trucks, which occupied one of the SpeedZone tracks.
The festival’s main draw was Grill ‘Em All, a heavy-metal-themed hamburger truck that won last year’s Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network.
“It’s just really good,” said Ken Perez of Diamond Bar, who had ordered a Molly Hatchet, which comes with sausage and gravy.
Also at the festival was Tapa Boy, a Filipino breakfast truck operated by the event’s organizer, Mike Teodoro.
“We found that the San Gabriel Valley has not had any decent-sized food truck events and felt that organizing one would be quite successful,” Teodoro said in an e-mail.
The festival’s debut, on a cold night in December, far exceeded Teodoro’s expectations. About 1,800 people showed up and cleaned out some of the 12 trucks available that night.
“We had to shut down about two hours early,” said Teodoro, who brought in more trucks Friday to account for larger crowds. “It’s kind of hard to prepare for more since there’s a finite amount of storage in the trucks.”
SpeedZone helped out with planning, and provided seating areas, heaters and an entertainment venue that gave hungry weekenders extra incentive to visit.
“The way the food truck trend has brought a lot of buzz, we thought it would bring a great opportunity,” said Melissa Luna, SpeedZone’s sales and marketing manager.
Social media has been the driving factor in food trucks’ popularity. Because they are often in several different cities each day, operators advertise their schedules through Twitter, Facebook and other sites.
Stops in the Valley were few, so residents were quick to notice the first big festival had arrived.
“I’m not sure why the trendy food trucks haven’t visited, but my family and friends have all been waiting,” said James Ng, a Hacienda Heights resident. “Before, we would drive across town, sometimes over an hour, just to get to one.”
The phenomenon exploded last year with festivals in places such as downtown L.A. and Orange County.
Others in the Valley are catching on, with a food truck festival planned in late January at Santa Anita Park.
“We’re all friends,” Teodoro said. “We promote their event, they promote our event.”