CENTRAL JP – Like pioneer wagons—only full of cupcakes, fancy burritos and Vietnamese delicacies—food trucks have come to JP and circled in the Loring-Greenough House parking lot.
These are not construction-site sandwich-slingers or blaring ice-cream trucks. They are part of a new movement where restaurant-quality food is sold by budding entrepreneurs out of mobile kitchens.
“It’s very new. So [it’s about] training people that they can get good food out of trucks,” said Patrick Gilmartin, the co-owner of Staff Meals, one of three food trucks now regularly appearing at the Loring-Greenough House at 12 South St.
During the First Thursday art event on June 2, other food trucks there included the Cupcakory cupcake truck and the Vietnamese restaurant-on-wheels Bon Me.
The food truck movement has the strong support of Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston City Council, which recently eased the city permitting of the trucks. Menino organized a City Hall Plaza food truck visit earlier this year, which included Bon Me.
Food truck momentum began rolling last summer at the South End’s SoWa market, which held a Food Truck Festival. The Cupcakory—a cute white truck featuring a small window-full of sample cupcakes—was among the attendees.
Piloted by the Hyde Park couple Diane DeMarco and Mick Walsh, the Cupcakory made appearances at JP’s Bank of America parking lot farmers’ market last fall. But they began looking for another local spot.
“We love JP,” said DeMarco to the Gazette, leaning out of the cupcake truck window to talk while about 10 food truck patrons munched on the lawn. She said she was able to get the Loring-Greenough House, a museum and cultural facility, to allow the parking lot use.
The Cupcakory truck has made appearances there since April. But it’s a challenge to lure customers from the sidewalk down the long driveway, DeMarco acknowledged. A critical mass of food trucks seems to be key.
The Cupcakory and Staff Meals are friendly because they share space at JP’s CropCircle Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides kitchen facilities to start-up food businesses. At the Cupcakory’s suggestion, Staff Meals joined the Loring-Greenough scene about six weeks ago. Bon Me made its first appearance on June 2.
In the Staff Meals truck, Somerville resident Gilmartin and JP resident Adam Gendreau worked over a hot stove while explaining their truck’s name.
“We’re chefs by trade. This is the kind of food that is the staff meals of restaurants we’ve worked in,” said Gilmartin.
That menu includes pork belly summer rolls and Chinese sausage burritos.
A fourth truck may soon be joining the gang, DeMarco said. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, a gourmet sandwich truck that is currently on a Food Network reality TV series, may stop by, complete with camera crew, she said.
For now, Staff Meals is generally in the lot on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and the Cupcakory on Thursday evenings only. Bon Me is a City Hall Plaza regular and its local schedule is unclear.