Food truck season is upon us, but it's going to look a little different this year for customers as well as truck operators. Posting up at busy locations to take advantage of big groups of hungry customers won't be an option for a while — because there won't be big groups. But event operations manager Gabriela Reyes has found a way to help a handful of food trucks attract extra customers three nights a week.
Reyes has been working with the City of Westminster and the property owner of the Westminster City Center shopping center (at Sheridan Boulevard and West 92nd Avenue) to create The Lot, a mini food truck rally that will serve food every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. beginning on May 21.
Reyes, a San Diego native who also lived in Texas before moving to Denver in 2015, says she's been planning something like this for the past year and originally envisioned something similar to the year-round food truck parks in Austin, where vendors set up around a central space with seating, shade and often drink service. But restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans, since the idea of bringing revelers together for a night of food and fun is off the table for now.
Instead, the Lot will function more like an old-fashioned drive-in, with customers pulling up in their cars, ordering and paying online and then having their food brought out to them carhop-style (only without the roller skates). Reyes says her lease allows up to four trucks each night, but she'll be starting off slow with two trucks for the first two weeks to allow neighbors and commuters time to get used to the setup.
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She's also working with food truck app Truckster to recruit vendors and provide an online ordering platform. Customers can find the truck they want to order from on the app and place their order at any time during the two-hour window, then pull up to a parking space to wait for their food. If one of the Lot's food trucks isn't on Truckster, Reyes will make sure they're using some form of ordering platform so that guests won't have to walk up to the truck's order window. The idea is to minimize direct contact between customer and vendor while streamlining the operation to keep too many vehicles from converging at once.
So far, six food trucks have signed on: Barbed Wire Reef (which specializes in game-meat burgers), Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs, The Ethiopian Food Truck, VX-3 (the mobile side of banh mi specialist Vinh Xuong Bakery), Waffle Cakes and Wyly Coyote Concessions, which Reyes describes as "legit carnival food" — corn dogs, ribbon fries, funnel cakes and Southwestern egg rolls, for example.
The organizer says she's also working with a mural artist to provide live painting to keep customers entertained while they wait for their food orders. She's also hoping to add a mobile retail vendor once social-distancing restrictions relax a little more this summer. While the Lot won't initially offer the party-style gathering generally associated with food truck rallies, Reyes hopes she'll still be able to bring a fun and unique experience to the suburbs as a change from standard fast-food drive-thrus.
The Lot's first service will be at the northeast corner of 92nd and Sheridan from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, with Wyly Coyote, Barbed Wire Reef and artist Cynthia Berg. See the event's website for more details.