Hungry hundreds pack in for first Food Truck Rally
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 6:11 p.m.
Savory scents and fuel fumes filled the air Saturday night at Gainesville's first Food Truck Rally.
Six vendors parked their mobile restaurants just outside of the High Dive, located at 210 SW Second Ave. The event was set to start at 7 p.m., but crowds lined up long before then to taste what the vendors had to offer.
“It's been a big success,” said Pat Lavery of Glory Day Presents, as hundreds of hungry people crammed into the small parking lot. The company collaborated with Pelican Brothers Food Truck to bring the free festival to Gainesville.
“I've seen families, college students and locals,” Lavery said. “Everyone seems really excited about it.”
Along with Pelican Brothers, other participating vendors were Off the Griddle, Go Go Stuff Yourself, Grilled Cheese Wagon, La Lola Loca and Humble Pie.
Michael Musoke, owner of Off the Griddle, described the rally as “awesome.”
Musoke, a UF alumnus, works side-by-side with his wife, Miriam, flipping Portobello-mushroom burgers and preparing specialty BLTs. His truck is based in Lakeland, where the couple lives, and it offers healthy, gourmet and alternative food.
Musoke said Off the Griddle has made the trip for Gator home football games, but he was especially excited to travel for the festival.
“It's good to bring everybody together to eat, to have fun,” Musoke said. “I definitely hope it's a recurring event. Gainesville's ready for it.”
Lavery said he plans for the rally to become a monthly event. “We hope to make it grow as time goes on with more vendors and activities,'' he said.
Lines, sometimes 20 or more long, of hungry patrons waited for a chance to place their order to the people inside the trucks.
Spring Gill, 38, of Gainesville, ordered almost everything on the Pelican Brothers menu because she wanted to “try it all.”
One of the items she wasn't able to sample, a s'more-style egg roll, had run out by the time she ordered, just 15 minutes after the event began.
By the end of the night, everything but the Pelican Brothers roasted-veggie quesadilla had run out.
“I don't think they were prepared for the amount of people that were going to be into this type of thing,” Gill said, smiling.
Matthew Kaye, a 20-year-old advertising junior at UF, said that logistics was an issue. After waiting for about a half-hour, his group gave up and opted for a local brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“The whole point is to try different things, but I doubt I'd be able to,” Kaye said. Noting the confusing blobs of people jostling for position by the trucks, he said, “I don't even know what I'm waiting in line for.”
As the night went on, Lavery said bringing in more food trucks in the future might help ease the crowds.
“The vendors didn't know what to expect,” Lavery said. “The demand is here, we just need more of the supply.”
Despite running out of some items and facing the largest crowds they could've expected, Matt Holmes of Pelican Brothers said he was extremely pleased with the turnout.
“I'm really glad Gainesville came out to support all these local guys who just wanna put out some good food,” Holmes said.
While some potential customers left early, patient patrons enjoyed the upscale options the food trucks prepared, with most prices in the $5 to $8 range. Groups sat on the asphalt, cradling their paper trays and chomping on dinner.
David Baden, a 21-year-old mechanical and aerospace engineering fourth-year at UF, ordered a chicken and waffle slider.
It took about 40 minutes to get his food, but once Baden bit into the bed of crisp chicken and fluffy waffles, he didn't care.
“It was worth the wait,” he said, licking away the maple gravy sauce on his bottom lip.