By Paris Wolfe | LHOnline.com
Step away from the buffet. The gourmet food truck movement is replacing traditional lunch service at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Their meeting planners can put wheels under meals instead.
Up to 24 food trucks, of the city’s nearly 9,000, can line the driveway just outside the hotel’s ballrooms where an overhang protects guests even in inclement weather.
They’re not talking your grandfather’s squat, stainless-paneled food truck that parked outside factories at noon overcharging for ham-and-cheese sandwiches and sodas. These are some of the most celebrated portable kitchens in America.
“We have trucks that are iconic and culturally relevant,” says Bill Buckley, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “This is all about pop culture relevancy. People love them because they’ve seen it on Top Chef or Bravo.”
These are dining experiences guests brag about to their friends and family. Among the most talked-about trucks are the Kogi BBQ Truck, The Buttermilk Truck, Coolhaus, Lobsta Truck, Get Shaved Shave Ice, Nom Nom Truck and Baby’s Badass Burgers. Guests can also often find truck fare from hot L.A. chefs — like Susan Feniger’s Border Grill truck, Wolfgang Puck’s Gastrotruck, and Ludo Lefebvre’s Ludo Bites Truck.
Because street food portions are traditionally smaller, guests often find themselves sampling multiple trucks — from Korean barbecue tacos to lobster rolls to red velvet chocolate chip pancakes.
“This is a creative way to show off the city’s culinary and cultural diversity, and leverage a popular and fun food movement,” says Buckley. “The cost to host a truck lunch is roughly the same per person as serving a buffet-style meal in one of our meeting rooms — so it’s a very viable option for most planners.”
To draw the theme throughout a meal, the hotel has been known to set up picnic tables. And even add entertainment, such as jugglers.
Meeting planners can think of it as a great ice breaker, says Buckley. “Guests may have been sitting in the same seat next to the same people all week long. This is more engaging than changing seats.”
For busy events, food trucks transplant the city’s dining strength to the hotel. “People dig it. People welcome the break. They’ve been in meetings all day. They, perhaps, don’t have the opportunity to get out and experience the city,” he says. “It’s a great way to bring a piece of L.A. to them.”