Monday, July 25, 2011

Food Trucks Land on New Public and Private Spaces: St. Mary's Square and 450 Mission

Today marked the launch of not one, but two new San Francisco landing areas for the Bay Area's restless and growing fleet of food triucks: Off the Grid's newest venue at St. Mary's Square, and the privately sponsored Truck Stop at 450 Mission St.

St. Mary's Square has been referred to by Off the Grid as its Financial District outpost; it could equally be called its Chinatown event, situated as it is in between the two.  However you look at it, I found it easily OTG's most pleasant setting, and it's a pity that it can only accommodate four or five trucks. It's relatively wind free, and the truck staging area has a profusion of foliage, park benches and meandering walkways which make it exceptionally cozy. Beniamino Bufano's monumental statue of Sun Yat-Sen provides a benign presence as well. Today's fare was provided by Señor Sisig, Fins on the Hoof, Toasty Melts and Curbside Eats.  The "soft" launch testified to the energy of Off the Grid's buzz machine; with promotion mostly by Twitter and OTG's Facebook page, the turnout supported healthy lines for each vendor.  Next week's event will feature a new platoon of four vendors, and possibly a fifth; there appears to be both the space and the market to support five trucks.  Due to Off the Grid: St. Mary's proximity to Chinatown, its terms of agreement preclude vendors of Asian food; interestingly, given the presence of Señor Sisig today and of HapaSF next week, Filipino fare has apparently been give a working definition as "not Asian."

The private-side food truck venue that launched today is known as the Truck Stop and was described in detail in SF Weekly's SFoodie blog.  It is located in the loading area for 450 Mission Street, its sponsor.  The lane is capable of holding three trucks in a single line. Today it resembled a smaller, somewhat grimmer version of Off the Grid's linear Minna St. layout. The "grimmer" is, fortunately, a temporary condition: the truck lane is surrounded by scaffolding, even overhead, due to some construction work.  The good news is that the lane leads to the pleasant, sun-swept plaza area for 50 Fremont St. (which today, incidently, hosted a Farmers' Market).  The event is to take place every weekday lunchtime, with a rotation of trucks, many already familiar to Off the Grid veterans.  Today's lineup consisted of Curry Up Now, Brass*Knuckle and Kara's Cupcakes. At 1:15 when I arrived lines were very light; though there may well have been a substantial Noon peak. It's also likely that word of this event is just beginning to get out.

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