Calling all food truck, trailer or cart owners. The Columbus Mobile Food Conference & Expo is back for a second year on February 25-26, 2017.
On the heels of a successful first year, organizers Chas Kaplan and Mike Gallicchio are bringing the two-day learning event back to further stoke the growing mobile food industry in Columbus and across the region.
The duo are embedded in the mobile food world as the owners of the Columbus Food Truck Festival and other food-centric events, and started the conference to build a resource where vendors could learn the ins and outs of the industry.
“We wanted to create this atmosphere for peers to learn from one another,” Kaplan says.
He and Gallicchio hope to position Columbus as the epicenter for the mobile food industry in the region. They have visited the handful of other mobile food conferences that exist across the nation and think their Columbus version can make a name for itself.
“We want to grow,” Kaplan says. “We want mobile food professionals around the region and around the country to see what Columbus is doing and learn from us.”
The two-day affair will feature over 20 workshops and seminars with panelists from across the region. Presentations will cover topics like how to acquire funds to start a mobile operation or how to work with government agencies and attain the proper permits.
“Most of the people that came were trying to jump into the mobile food industry and business,” Gallicchio says of 2016’s conference.
For 2017 an additional track of classes will be tailored to industry veterans.
“We want to add classes that would lend some education to people that have already been in the business for a long time,” Gallicchio says.
This year’s conference will branch just outside of food as well, with time dedicated to retail/boutique trucks. The number of retail-based trucks in Columbus is on the rise, with a few generally in the lineup at the Food Truck Festival.
“It helps our event to have the mobile fashion trucks there along with the food,” Gallicchio says. “We’ve always thought that that could be a part of the movement.”
Much like a food truck, a retail truck provides a lower barrier to entry and the benefit of mobility – something which they think could potentially interest a lot of entrepreneurs.
A keynote address from Donatos President and CEO Tom Krouse and a vendor expo where businesses can connect with resources (truck wrapping, alcohol sponsorships, promotional materials, etc.) will round out the Columbus Mobile Food Conference & Expo. A full schedule will be posted in early December.
The conference is also headed to a new location in 2017, the Embassy Suites in Dublin.
“We just want to make everything a little bit more affordable,” Kaplan says.
The hotel provides more space for classes and larger areas for networking as well.
The event is expected to draw attendees from across the state and region. Early bird registration for the second annual Columbus Mobile Food Conference & Expo is $75 through November and jumps to $100 in December and $150 in February. The event is expected to sell out. For more information and to register, visit colsmobilefoodconf.com.
Photos via Columbus Mobile Food Conference & Expo Facebook page.