I didn’t set out to review the first Mobile Food Truck Festival Rodeo in Seattle held one week ago, but the more I contemplated, the more I decided I had something to say.
This disorganized mess produced a ton of waiting around at its lackluster location in Interbay. The truck representation included The Box, El Camión, Maximus/Minimus, Street Donuts, Parfait, Kaosamai Thai, Lumpia World, Molly Moon, Skillet, BUNS, Street Treats, Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff, Fusion on the Run, Bistro Box, Curry Now, Dante’s Inferno Dogs, Veraci Pizza, The Snout & Co. and Bigfood. The festival advertised like mad through Groupon and The Stranger. The lines to get in were massive. If you were lucky enough to get free parking, you saved $10. Once inside, the band stage was empty more than it had bands performing. The cupcake-eating contest was the highlight during my tenure, where the lucky winner walked away with a years’ supply of Trophy cupcakes.
The food lines were so long you had to wade through them to get to the trucks to view their menus (many didn’t offer sampler/small items as advertised), so unless you did a cursory walk through and examined the menus (which required a lot crisscrossing lines and excuse-me’s) you didn’t know which food to choose. Ideally, each truck should post signs with their offerings so you can decide while in line—those with smart phones were clearly the winners.
I took my chances with Bigfood and was delighted at their flat bread offerings. My choice did not come without a price (I don’t mean the charge)—I waited 25 minutes to order. Then, I waited another 20 to receive my food. If you were disappointed with your food, then you were looking at another huge wait. I’d expected to wait some, but this was ridiculous.
The worst offence was the lack of sufficient recycling and food waste containers. Garbage bins were teeming with glass and plastic. Aren’t Seattleites supposed to be leaders in green? What an enormous oversight! When I asked a Food Rodeo Cowboy why the situation was so dire, he pinned the onus on the food carts; that they had failed to deliver. He then pointed out one recycling bin next to a food cart. Now that the lines had thinned, it was visible. He said he’d seen a food waste bin “somewhere” but couldn’t point me in its direction.
The event needed more hay bales, picnic tables for festive family-style seating and, perhaps, Christmas lights. More music may have helped. More food trucks may have diminished some of the waits. The trucks needed to have been dispersed better so that some lines didn’t hinder people from getting to the carts in the corners.
The positives: The food. Dog friendly. Family friendly. Philanthropic—raising $3,126 for Seattle’s Solid Ground (formerly the Fremont Public Association).The Snout and its Cuban flair was voted the crowd favorite but their line was, you guessed it—long and SLOW.
I hope the organizers learn from this year’s fiasco; they’ve 365 to tailor an improvement. Good luck.