Street Eats Food Truck Festival Offers Tasty Food, Long Lines, and a Few Lessons for Next Time

Categories: News
truck1.jpg
Lauren Saria
Pulled pork sliders from Duck Duck Pig.

Editor's Note, in the interest of full disclosure: While Chow Bella wasn't directly involved, Phoenix New Times was a sponsor of the Street Eats Food Truck festival. 

From $5 parking to $4 samples (what happened to the $2 vouchers we were promised?!) Saturday's Street Eats food truck festival at Salt River Fields wound up being pricier than advertised. And with an accident on the 101 and oversold tickets, more time-consuming, too. 

But also tasty, for those who persevered. 

Like last fall's street truck festival on Roosevelt Row, this inaugural event featured super-long lines to get to small portions of really good food (unless you wanted to shell out $8 for a full serving) -- a lesson again in the overwhelming popularity of food trucks. Particularly when you bring in the big guns, namely Tyler Florence of the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, and some of the trucks featured on the show. (We'll have a post up later this week with our chat with Florence.)

As for the two Chow Bella contributors who stood in line all day for a few morsels? We're both of the mind that it might be best to simply seek out our favorite trucks around town on a meal-by-meal basis. That said, it sounds to us like the Valley definitely wants more food truck festivals. No doubt Saturday can be instructive for the future.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of the day: If you are going to require cash payments, be sure to a. warn folks ahead of time and b. keep those ATMs stocked. 

Find out what was worth those long lines after the jump.

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Ando Muneno
The great wait.

​Many were disappointed that not all the trucks offered samples and that some of those that did offered abysmally small samples. Notable examples include Luncha Libre's $4 half al pastor quesadilla. And Epic Hot Dog's $4 half hot dog with fries. Granted, the al pastor was very tasty but $4 tasty? All of the trucks we saw offered full meals at their regular rates, typically $8 and up.

Our biggest question: Why would you wait hours to eat a full size meal from a local food truck? Why not simply catch up with them at their regular haunts? You would think that the point of a large festival like this is give people the opportunity to sample a wide array of trucks in a reasonable amount of time. Judging from the grumbling we heard in line it was clear that many attendees were upset that their plans for a food truck smorgasbord were dashed. 

It wasn't all bad, not by a longshot. The venue was large and well-advertised. There was music and beer. For many of the people we interviewed, this was their first experience with the food truck phenomenon. People like Melissa Newberg of Cave Creek, whose only previous experience was watching The Great Food Truck Race. Or people like Debbie Ontiveras who made the trek from Peoria to Salt River Fields. Ontiveras had Pizza People for lunch Friday and found the experience so enamoring that she packed her family up the very next morning to get to the festival. 

Both knew that the event was going to be huge and were mentally prepared to stand in long lines for food. It was also a big ego-boost for the trucks that were there. Old World Brewery's debut effort, Lobster on a Roll, sold out completely by 1:30. Owner Geoff Lowell said that he was prepared to serve thousands of sandwiches and completely bought out his seafood supplier's inventory in preparation for this event. He still didn't have enough food.

The experience was clearly better for the early birds. Ontiveras said she left her home at 10:30 but struggled with traffic and parking so she didn't actually get into the
venue until 12:30. An hour and a half later she was about halfway to her second food truck, T-Licious Tacos. 

Newberg and her friends arrived promptly at 10 and knocked out five or six trucks in the 
first hour. But each time they got in line the wait was longer. We caught up with her just after she received a cheese-steak from Food Truck Race favorite, Devilicious. Her wait time? One hour, forty minutes.

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27 comments
UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM
UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

HA HA !! 
The Americans are upset they had to pay the Indians to park and gain admission.
The Americans are upset they had to pay $4 for dumb food!!
The Americans are upset they had to stand in line for hours!!

I hope they do it all again the same way.

UrbanIndianShootSelfInFoot
UrbanIndianShootSelfInFoot

Americans never come back!
They have ten other places to go on the weekends!Indians hear crickets in the stands!
HA HA! 
WHO'S FUCKED NOW???

UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM
UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

But thatz the ideal situation for us. AMERICANS DON'T COME BACK and leave us alone with brother cricket and the sound of civilized silence.

SunDevilRick
SunDevilRick

Yeah that is why you keep building casinos and ball parks and outdoor malls, you don't want Americans. F-Off. If the Americans didn't come back You would be eating brother cricket and you will be praying for the sound of cash machines clinging again. 

DawnB
DawnB

How did it go from people posting comments about their experience at the food truck festival to "angry Americans"?

Tristen775
Tristen775

A complete disaster and waste of time and money is how I sum up this entire experience!  The lines just to get in were a disaster, no volunteers directing people..heard nothing but confusion from everyone from the start.  Hours upon hours for every line, no matter what was being sold. I overheard multiple peple saying how horrible this was, since at first I thougt I was perhaps just having a poor attitude, others metioning leaving to get lunch.  In the end thats what we decided to do. Scottsdale has alot to learn about hosting events such as these!  I just kept thinking how wonderful the Tucson Meet Yourself Food Truck experience was, & could not believe what a night mare this turned out to be! Never again will I waste my time or money on this poorly excuted/planned "event" !!!!

Hungry at Salt River
Hungry at Salt River

Everybody loves the idea of a Food Truck Festival.  But, after this event, I don't think I'll ever go to another one again!!!  This event was a disaster.  I left feeling hot, thirsty, hungry, taken advantage of and gouged.  I went home and had a bite to eat.  And to the folks at Salt River Fields, quit charging people for parking to come to your facility and your events.

the blind feeding the blind
the blind feeding the blind

 Between their over-promised and under-delivered promotion of this event and their delusional spin on how the whole thing came off, these sponsors have probably paved the off-ramp event for food trucks as a stand alone corner of foodie commerce.     

Gwen
Gwen

What I would like to know is where was Tyler Florence?  There was no information about when/where he would make his appearance, and I didn't see him in the slideshow either. 

Cat Silverman
Cat Silverman

"It wasn't all bad, not by a longshot." Which universe are you in? This event was a disaster! Overpriced, poorly planned, poorly executed and did NOT deliver - not by a longshot. We arrived shortly after noon, waited an hour and left empty-handed as trucks started running out of food. The majority of customers were NOT satisfied.

Jen
Jen

Totally beyond disappointing. 
~ No cash at ATM's?
~ Parking wait 1.5 hours?
~ Trucks out of food?
~ Lines so long at others that you got nada?

I'm renting a couple food trucks next year just to park outside and feed people waiting to get in!! 

Doogs
Doogs

We got there at 1pm and by the time we left at 4pm, I had a fried bologna sandwich and a cupcake.

If anyone was able to sample anything more than a dish every two hours, bravo... I'm impressed and curious as to how you did it.

DawnB
DawnB

In theory, a food truck festival is a great idea, but it seems that fully executing that idea and have it be successful has fallen short, not only here, but at the food truck fest that was held in downtown phx in August. Promotoers need to take the advice of the festival goers and apply it. There should have been more seating available, drinks were over priced, and ticket sales need to be CAPPED, simple as that. I still love food trucks and love supporting them, it'd just be nice if the food truck festivals were ran better.

Peter Brosnan
Peter Brosnan

I should have known better.  This was an absolute rip off.  The organizers should be ashamed of themselves for putting on such an event.  Yes - the 4 braised pork sliders I split with my lady were good.  When the total cost was $25 (parking, tickets, food) PLUS 3 hours of our lives, they were not nearly good enough.  It was digusting to see them still charging for parking at 2:30pm, when most people already in the event would be lucky to get any more food at all.  We tried waiting on a 2nd line and heard that people near the front had been on line for 2.5 hours and MAY NOT GET FOOD.  Unreal.  Lesson learned.

Schadenfriend
Schadenfriend

Am I the only one who sees a food truck festival at a fixed venue on the far end of town as kind of idiotic? I've really enjoyed the downtown Friday food truck court a few times, where there's a central location, good variety, fresh air, and no entrance or parking fees. And I don't mind going a little out of my way to track down a really good truck at other times.   But I can't say that I understand trekking over to the Salt River reservation, paying high prices to park and enter, then waiting in massive lines for a couple bites of food that probably isn't a whole lot better than fixed venues around town. The novelty of food trucks has to wear off at some point, right?

Anon
Anon

Erm, Scottsdale is centrally located.  Phoenix actually sits off to the west of the Metropolis.  Not too mention there is a lot more disposable income in that part of town

Seth Chadwick
Seth Chadwick

While I appreciate the disclosure and the rather optimistic tone of the article (for next year, I guess), I am somewhat perplexed by the sort of dismissive tone of the article regarding the laundry list of problems at the festival.

As someone who has been burned by more than a few festivals that go long on PR, but offer little in return (other than to bring in easy capital to the promoters), I was interested in hearing why things failed and why this seems to continually happen at start up festivals (as though throwing a festival is some newfangled thing that no one has ever done before).

What exactly did one get for the $10.00 entrance fee?  Why was the $5.00 parking fee not disclosed?  What happened to the $2.00 sample vouchers?  Who decided not to bother with ample seating?  Why was there (apparently) no cap on admission ticket sales?  Who was benefiting from charging $4.00 for a bottle of water (note: for about that price, you can get a case of Kirkland water bottles at your local Costco; 24 to a pack I believe)?

The note about someone waiting 1:40 for a cheesesteak all but begs even more questions to be answered, and makes me wonder why the promoters and sponsors and administrators of what was clearly a massive failure aren't pushing out mea culpas in record numbers.

Considering this is now the second food truck festival that seems to have oversold tickets and has suffered from a plethora of problems, your takeaway that what this means is that Phoenix needs more food truck festivals is somewhat empty.

Anon
Anon

It's sad to say but whenever I see a New Times sponsorship of a 2 or less year old event.  I know it will likely be a rip off and poorly planned with food running out and ticketing issues and the like.

Unfortunately, there are a dearth of food events in this town so when someone comes knocking on New Times door to assist in sponsorship/PR there is zero oversight and New Times is happy just to get out PR about a new event even if it will be a rip off and head ache with lines, etc.

Guestofaguest
Guestofaguest

Excellent response to a Pollyanna piece (well, there was an accident on the 101.  . . WTF???). I left hungry, as in I didn't eat anything at all, not even a sample. Judging from the comments on the earlier piece, I'm not the only one. And right now, I hate New Times, hate food trucks, and am pissed about the whole experience, especially after reading this tepid response to what was a complete and utter fucking disaster.

Yuman
Yuman

OMG, I have seen your posts on several sites.  If you are really this upset at a great attempt to bring the food truck industry to the masses, you must have really been upset when Santa didn't bring exactly what you wanted every year....

Guestofaguest
Guestofaguest

Yes, I am upset because I went to a FOOD FESTIVAL and left WITHOUT EATING. Does any of that ping off your tiny brain? Or would you be happy going to a movie theater or football game and not seeing a movie or game? 

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