This spring, you may notice a change in downtown Columbus. As city dwellers hustle to their offices, a new sight and smell might stop them in their paths. Columbus-ites will be able to enjoy a quick bite, on the go, without worrying about the rollercoaster of emotions that go hand-in-hand with typical fast food offerings: Where did this food come from? How many calories are in this? Is this actual beef? For the first time in Columbus’ history, food trucks & carts will be allowed to setup shop in select city-designated spots and curbsides.
After almost a year’s worth of intense discussions, meetings and litigation between city officials and the mobile-food community, the City Of Columbus is ready to unveil its pilot program that will finally grant food trucks & carts access to a number of coveted, city-owned spots. This momentous development signifies that Columbus’ food truck frenzy is not a fad, but rather a growing industry capable of producing big profits.
This past fall, the Kaplan Artists Group was appointed to manage the new city spot reservation system. With over three years experience successfully operating Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s mobile food rotation, OhioFoodTruckFinder.com, as well as co-owning The Columbus Food Truck Festival, KAG was the city’s first choice to implement the new program. They expect to build upon a model that has already proven to work seamlessly for both the customer and the vendor.
“We’re really excited to expose the greatness of what Columbus has to offer with its small business owners,” Chas Kaplan, founder of KAG, said. “Columbus has an incredible foodie scene and it’s time to introduce the variety of talented chefs to the masses.”
The days of seeing the same food cart peddling the typical “street-meat” are in the past. The new reservation system will work through a website, allowing mobile food vendors to reserve select spots around the city, bringing variety to the streets. Lisa Gutierrez, owner of Dos Hermanos Taco Truck, an authentic gourmet taco truck that specializes in tacos, tamales and burritos, is eager to take advantage of the new city spots.
“My team is ready to provide a new experience for someone who’s never experienced a food truck,” Gutierrez said. “You’re going to walk away with freshly prepared cuisine made to order which will be unique for customers, new and old.”
Once launched, the link to the public website will be posted via Facebook at facebook.com/colsmfv. Locations, dates and serving times will be accessible, along with which mobile vendor will be serving. By separating the serving shifts into four groups: breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night, Columbus’ food trucks and carts will be more accessible than ever before.
At any given time, regardless of when hunger hits, there will be a mobile vendor waiting. In addition, interested foodies can subscribe to a mailing list that will send out weekly schedules that not only detail which vendor will be out serving, but also if there have been any modifications to their menu for that shift. Customers can track individual locations or sign up for all the locations separately depending on their preference. The website will act as the master calendar, which will also provide updated schedules and vendor information. Questions to learn more about the program can also be addressed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KAG also plans to promote each city spot through the use of Facebook and Twitter, allowing Columbus residents easy access to the mobile vendors scattered throughout the city. With a simple click of the mouse, curious customers can explore all the vendor options, without having to aimlessly walk the streets looking for their food truck fix.
Dos Hermanos Taco Truck plans to hit the city spots starting in March. Aside from their weekly Saturday night gig at Seventh Son Brewery, Dos Hermanos will utilize the cart locations to enhance their exposure in hopes of securing more business opportunities throughout the rest of 2015.
Dos Hermanos began serving at OSU Medical Center in 2012 and has rapidly gained a loyal following. This past year, their cart has been featured at both Ohio Stadium and The Schottenstein Center during the men’s football and basketball games. Gutierrez is eager to take advantage of the additional spots through the new system.
“With the addition of the city locations, we are looking forward to having our best and busiest year yet,” Gutierrez said. “2015 will truly be a landmark year for Columbus’ mobile food community.”
— Dos Hermanos Taco Truck has been a Food Fort member since spring of 2012. You can find them at facebook.com/doshermanostacotruck. They can also be reached for business inquiries at (614) 226-5286. Powered by ECDI, The Food Fort is a food-based business incubator that provides their clients access to specialized business training, as well as a commercial kitchen for cooking, baking and prep needs. The Food Fort strives to give its members access to new markets and networks to optimize business opportunities. The Food Fort currently represents over 40 locally-based food businesses, including caterers, personal chefs and mobile food truck and cart owners. Find more information at thefoodfort.com. —