Even when a legal street food vendor scores a success in this town, things can turn unexpectedly janky. That’s the lesson the owners of the Twirl and Dip ice cream truck learned this weekend, after the city turned them out of a Marina Green spot they leased last month, the result, apparently, of a bureaucratic fail.
In December, owners Meg Hilgartner and Siri Skelton signed a lease with Rec and Park to sell ice cream six days a week on city property: three days in Golden Gate Park, and three in Marina Green. Hilgartner tells SFoodie that, while she and Skelton had been asking Rec and Park for a hard copy of the lease since December, it didn’t materialize in time for their Jan. 15 debut in Marina Green. They showed up anyway. The parking space that was supposed to be reserved for them wasn’t, but they did a successful business in soft-serve cones and fruitsicles, even though a Park and Rec manager asked to see their permit and lease ― paperwork they’d never received. He let them stay. (Hilgartner and Skelton’s original case manager, Cassandra Costello, went on maternity leave in December; since then they’ve been working with Nick Kinsey.)
Twirl and Dip showed up again next day, but this time a different Rec and Park manager asked to see their lease. When they failed to produce it he alerted a park ranger, who arrived in a squad car and told Hilgartner and Skelton they’d have to leave.
“We’ve been working on securing these spots since last April,” she says. “We’ve crossed all our t’s and dotted all our i’s. We paid a hefty deposit, and rent from the 15th through the end of this month. So for us to fall through the cracks is very upsetting.”
Since city offices were closed Monday for the MLK holiday, that means Twirl and Dip woiuldn’t be able to clear things up till Tuesday at the earliest. Hilgartner says they won’t even try going out again till Thursday, when they’re due at Golden Gate Park’s rec field in the Inner Sunset.