accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Food trucks embraced OTP

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays

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

42 comments Add your comment

Tee

September 21st, 2012
8:32 am

Can Gwinnett get some Food Truck Love?!

Bill

September 21st, 2012
8:35 am

This website has good info. on Food Trucks in Atlanta.

http://www.ftoatlanta.com

They helped me a lot.

C. Tampa Ironworse

September 21st, 2012
8:40 am

I think it’s great. We live in town and my wife FEARS the day when we’ll have to move OTP for a better family life and schools and she’ll have to leave all the great food options of ITP. And good for the trucks giving the finger to the city officials. If it doesn’t benefit the Andy Young types and cronies…great!

Thomas

September 21st, 2012
8:41 am

Underserved market. Smyrna has some great local places like Muss & Turners and nearby Heirloom but is lacking in variety and innovation at the city center. A taqueria (think “del sol”) just opened and is swamped. 10 years behind the trend? Maybe, but residents still enjoy it.

jwc

September 21st, 2012
8:47 am

Food trucks don’t want to come to town? Unfriendly cops, panhandlers, restrictions, parking issues, confusion, congestion, crime, violence, urban decay, filth, urine soaked Marta stops. So many reasons not to come to town (common throughout America by the way). A shame really. Atlanta could have been such a jewel, not that food trucks contribute much. Still could happen, but it’s gonna take resources and creativity. Until then, let the OTP/ITP socio-economic wars continue. That’ll always be a BIG help.

Ricky Lee

September 21st, 2012
8:53 am

A church in Snellville had food trucks come one Sunday. A twist on the old church potluck.

quake

September 21st, 2012
9:27 am

Other cities (NYC, Austin, Portland come to mind) have found a way to allow food trucks to legally operate, to the benefit of their communities, with far less of the red tape that has strangled this city. Atlanta is so far behind so many comparable cities in so many ways. Was just in Charlotte, who is in the process of leaving us in the dust. Very sad, given what we could have been.

Kristen

September 21st, 2012
9:35 am

Trying to understand the draw of going to a park, in the heat, with 999 other people, to order a glorified taco and eat it standing up.

Fred

September 21st, 2012
10:17 am

@C. Tampa Ironworse – You might be surprised at the food choices OTP. They don’t always get the big write ups or get frequented by the “in” crowd but the food (and that is the reason you go) is often not just good but great!

Whats Important

September 21st, 2012
10:18 am

@ Kristen – glorified tacos are not what you get when the patronize the food trucks, the ones in Kennesaw regularly offers organic food cooked on the Big Green Egg, fresh paninis, a truck dedicated to sliders, a truck dedicated to different types of meatballs, including lamb, several Caribbean Island Themed trucks a Cajun themed truck, a chicken and waffles truck, and of course always at least one BBQ truck. It is all very fresh and very good. We enjoy our Dinner at the Depot on Mondays very much.

Mike

September 21st, 2012
10:21 am

Let entrepreneurs do their thing. Do they need to provide safe food? Of course. Should they be inspected periodically to ensure safety? Of course. But anyone who is against food trucks should follow this sound advice: Don’t participate. Nobody will force you to spend your money there or eat there, and you should force anyone to NOT spend money and go there.

I haven’t attended one of these events, but if it brings enjoyment to others, and it’s safe and clean, then it’s a good thing.

Bubbles

September 21st, 2012
10:30 am

Wow, Kristen – you sound like a laugh a minute. “What’s Important” has it right. These folks are serving up gourmet items without the high prices. Godspeed to them, and I’m sure they’d have similar crowds in plenty of other areas OTP (Johns Creek, Cumberland, Perimeter/Concourse area, East Cobb…the list goes on).
Leave the bullies in the city to beat up on other businesses.

Bubbles

September 21st, 2012
10:32 am

Well said, Mike! Cheers.

Tom

September 21st, 2012
11:05 am

My church will be having a few Food Trucks again in October and November, so come on by!
http://gfc.tv/snellville/food-trucks-at-grace/

Debbie

September 21st, 2012
11:32 am

While we are ITP, there is a new food truck rally in Chamblee today (and every Friday) at Chamblee Plaza. I think it will draw a great crowd from surrounding businesses. http://brookhaven.patch.com/events/chamblee-plaza-food-truck-rally

Downside

September 21st, 2012
11:37 am

No one looks at the down side. I’ve seen food trucks hit an area with a couple of current restaurants – people who’ve gone through a lot to purchase/lease that property and build an establishment. They lose lots of business to the fly-by-nighters who come in with their food trucks.

Specific parks where they have to pay a lease fee are fine, but don’t forget about the established restaurants that they’re killing when they invade anyplace they want.

Baltisraul

September 21st, 2012
11:42 am

Kristen……..We all would enjoy it better if you just stayed home and forget about posting comments about things that get your panties in a wad!!!!! Bet your fun at parties?

Get a life.

September 21st, 2012
11:45 am

Baltisraul – don’t be a jerk. She made a valid point.

Marie

September 21st, 2012
12:06 pm

Debbie-thanks for the link. We’ll have to check it out. I wonder if there is anything like that in the john’s creek area?

yevette

September 21st, 2012
12:22 pm

Downside–have you ever heard of competition!!! If you have good food then it really wouldn’t matter what was cooking outside my door, if I had an established resturant. It’s good these food trucks have the opportunity to make a living. We are in a recession–make yr mondy food trucks!!

Kristen

September 21st, 2012
12:36 pm

Wow, it was just an observation, not an attack. Am I not allowed to give a dissenting opinion on here? I’m certainly not against food trucks, and admire their entrepreneurial spirit, esepcially in this day and age – I just don’t understand the hype. I hope you feel powerful now, anonymous behind your keyboards. Make sure you cut a bunch a people off this afternoon as you’re heading home from your pathetic job.

I’ll remember you poor souls eating cheap truck food when I am at my bi-weekly dinners at one of Atlanta’s fine dining establishments, enjoying the cool a/c from a plush booth. Have a blessed day.

dave

September 21st, 2012
2:19 pm

Can’t we all just come together and get along for once, for the good of Atlanta, and for the good of the entire region, rather than constantly fighting turf battles against each other? This whole ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude has got to stop if this region is ever going to get anywhere. This whole city vs. city thing and new cities forming and new counties threatening to form has got to stop. The first step might be cleaning up Atlanta sometime this century so suburbanites don’t feel threatened to come downtown.

In other parts of the country, ie NY, DC, Boston, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, SF, they actually support their cities and want them to succeed!

Sally Bow

September 21st, 2012
2:20 pm

@Tampa, If you think there isn’t any good food OTP, you’ve obviously never been to Roswell who’s restaurants are frequently written about in national magazines. And we also have food trucks. Good times!

Whats Important

September 21st, 2012
2:20 pm

Well Kristen, you have now firmly established that you are an arrogant ass.

the baroness

September 21st, 2012
2:23 pm

Kristen prefers the convenience and “great” food offered at Chili’s, Applebees & Ruby Tuesday. **gag**

Typical Redneck

September 21st, 2012
2:36 pm

Getting back to the article, who would blame the food truck operators for leaving Atlanta. From everything I’ve read the city is a pita to deal with anyway.

Debbie

September 21st, 2012
2:51 pm

Chamblee had a GREAT turnout today. While it was supposed to go from 11-3, one truck was pretty much sold out by the time we got there at 12:45. The next one closed up around 1:30. Healthy Nut, Westside Creamery, Hail Caesar and Southern Komfort were there. They will definitely need more trucks next week. There is an IHOP in the center, and there was an IHOP employee in line, so I guess variety is the spice of life. In this particular area, there is only fast food, so I don’t think the trucks are taking away from other restaurants; just adding to the choices.

DougK

September 21st, 2012
3:52 pm

Atlanta’s loss is Smyrna’s gain. Welcome to our neighborhood food trucks.

AzCat

September 21st, 2012
8:26 pm

@Downside: Have to agree with the first half of yevette’s post. If all it takes to sink an ‘established’ restaurant is a few food trucks showing up, I question whether the restaurant was going to survive anyway.

OTP Gal

September 21st, 2012
8:40 pm

All these haters of the food trucks haven’t ever tried them, I’d bet money on it. I’m sure they’re not adventurous eaters and eat the same boring thing over and over.
I frequent the truck parks inside and outside the perimeter with my family and love them all. it’s nice to have some variety of food and enjoy visiting different parts of the city.

I think it’s great and am happy to see people employed, creating jobs, and customers in the community supporting local economy.

see you at the Food trucks!

C. Tampa Ironworse

September 21st, 2012
8:48 pm

I love OTP. It’s my wife who is the ITP snob. And I say that with love…

[...] the original post here: Food trucks embraced OTP | Food and More with John Kessler This entry was posted in Food and tagged august, back, citations, conducting, food, highlands, [...]

sharon

September 23rd, 2012
1:43 am

I think Atlanta officials have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot. They are/were definitely running the trucks out of town, with those sometimes odd raids in Virginia Highland. During a time when entrepreneurship should be encouraged in order to combat the high employment rate, they were basically telling people who are meeting a growing demand that they are not welcome.

Cities & communities OTP are being more logical perhaps because the novelty & demand factors are higher. Whatever the reason, I hope these entrepreneurs keep searching out new venues. It’s a great idea and gives people a chance to try new cuisines and ideas without a long commute or dress code. :-)

If any food truck owners are reading, there are office parks on Perimeter Way (#219) in Dunwoody with employees who are permitted only 30 minutes for lunch on Mondays – Tuesdays. So far, only 2 delivery options exist for hundreds of hungry foodies. Hint. Hint.

Daedalus

September 23rd, 2012
10:05 am

I just got back from Portland where we visited several great food truck “pods” — great variety, good food and generally a very good deal. Its a pity that Atlanta cannot get its act together to allow these trucks a chance to thrive. Yes there is great food in ATL both inside and outside the perimeter. As for existing restaurants, if they provide fresh, well-prepared food they will do fine. If they just buy Sysco food and re-heat it, well, many people will go elsewhere.

Brick and mortar restaurants can offer more variety (and beer and wine) and if they prepare it well, they will be fine. Try Com on Buford Hwy– fantastic vietnamese food next to a great taquieria.

Edward

September 23rd, 2012
11:06 am

I love food trucks. When they arrive in areas with a lot of foot traffic, they can be a true blessing. But truck parks? Where you drive your car, fight to find a parking space, just so you can queue up to a truck to buy food you then eat under a sweltering sun? I thought the whole idea of a food truck was a mobile restaurant that could travel to where the people are, not the other way around. It is shameful that the City of Atlanta makes it so difficult for these trucks to work as they should. But then, the City of Atlanta is not known for expressing logic and reason.

Ro

September 23rd, 2012
12:02 pm

Food trucks are awesome! They’ve grown so much in this city just in the last year. I can’t believe it’s as hard as they say to get one on the road. I’m working on doing just that. I know the support is there. So future food truckers, don’t be scared! There’s room for everyone!

[...] Find the entire article <here> [...]

Edgewood Adam

September 24th, 2012
1:11 pm

Driving to a location to create density instead of actually living in density sounds like something that would thrive OTP.

FoodieBeast

September 24th, 2012
3:27 pm

@Downside – how is it different from any other restaurant(s) opening up in the area? If anything, they could bring exposure to neighborhood businesses. They aren’t permanent fixtures. And they CAN’T just go anywhere they want. Hence, the constant battles with the City of Atlanta.

@Kristen, yes…snob much? I enjoy a number of places to eat in this great foodie city – from the food trucks to dives to our high-end establishments. They all deserve some local love. I can understand not “getting” the idea but there’s no need to poo on them. Apparently you think $$$ means good food. Try loosening up the undies, venturing out and enjoying this wonderful fall-ish weather at a food truck gathering and surprise yourself.

[...] citations at Food Truck Wednesday in Virginia Highlands back in August, I had an illuminating.blogs.ajc.com/food-and…/food-trucks-embraced-otp/?… – via (author [...]

Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com

September 25th, 2012
7:22 am

@sharon – Up here in Alpharetta we occasionally see food trucks park outside of office parks during the lunch hour. Remember that Alpharetta has close to 100,000 cubicle dwellers commuting here who don’t live here. I think it’s an untapped market for food trucks.

Rex

September 25th, 2012
9:58 am

OTP tends to elect pro-business Republicans, while Atlanta has pro-big government officials. It’s why the Sunday booze sales were led by a party that had not had power in state government until recently.

It just comes down to one part of the metro area believing in the power of the people, another part the power of elected officials.