While conducting interviews for the story on the police citations at Food Truck Wednesday in Virginia Highlands back in August, I had an illuminating conversation with Bettie Cagle, the organizer behind the gathering. While discussing the restrictive nature of the Atlanta permitting process, Cagle mentioned that many of the food truck operators have been looking more and more to locations outside the perimeter to get away from the frustrations the face dealing with the City of Atlanta.
And in that conversation, she casually referenced crowds of over 1,000 that regularly show up at here other event, Smyrna’s Food Truck Tuesdays.
At that time, I must admit, I’d only attended the food truck gatherings in town, since it is more convenient for me and because the OTP gatherings feature mostly the same trucks that also make stops in Atlanta. But Cagle’s statement had me intrigued. So, the following Tuesday, I headed up to Smyrna to check it out, and I was certainly surprised.
Located in the Taylor Brawner Park off of Atlanta Road in Smyrna, the weekly gathering draws an impressive crowd. Well over a thousand people were there on my first visit, more than I’d seen at any one event ITP, and at its peak, you had a hard time finding a spot in the grass to sit down.
So, beyond the fact that the trucks face less permitting issues outside the perimeter, it was obvious that there is a need that they are filling within the community. Smyrna is just one example. Food truck gatherings continue to spring up outside of the city of Atlanta, like the Dinner at the Depot gathering in Kennesaw.
What do you think? Is Atlanta running the food trucks out of town, or is there just an under-served market outside the city of Atlanta, and the trucks are just now catching on? Maybe a little bit of both?
- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog