Food trucks invade the York suburbs
Isael Cartagena had the day off from his job at Toyota of York and planned to spend the morning at the Springettsbury Township Park with his 9-year-old daughter, Kailyn.
They went to the basketball courts in the southwest corner of the park and were going to shoot some hoops when they saw the food trucks not far away. So instead of shooting hoops, they took a break and got some lunch.
"It's perfect," Cartagena, who lives in Dallastown, said. "We don't even have to leave the park to get lunch."
It was an odd sight, for those not used to it. Eight food trucks — from a Bricker's French Fries trailer to a truck that sold artisan grilled cheese sandwiches — were parked in the lot in the far southwest corner of the park.
They've been there every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., as part of the township's Food Truck Friday.
Food trucks, trendy now, are mostly an urban phenomena. They can trace their history to the frontier days, when cowhands driving cattle to market would be accompanied by a chuckwagon, and to the food service trucks that would visit construction sites and other blue-collar job sites to provide a quick and cheap lunch for working men and women.
In recent years, they've seen a renaissance, mostly in cities. For instance, York's Foodstruck event, billed as one of the largest food truck festivals on the East Coast, is held downtown.
So it is strange to see a gaggle of food trucks parked in the shadow of chain restaurants and across the road from a mall.
The township came up the idea as something that would be different. Every Friday, beginning in June and running until the end of the summer, the food trucks will be at the park.
"It's been very successful," said David Wendel, the township's director of parks and recreation, adding that the event attracts between 300 and 400 visitors every week. "It's a way to attract people to Springettsbury Township and our park."
Among them, on Friday, was Courtney Tshudy, from Mount Wolf. She said she had driven by the event several times, but this was the first time she stopped. Every other time, her 15-month-old son, Luke Maul, was napping in the car, and she didn't want to wake him. This time, he was awake and was soon enjoying a few Bricker's fries. Tshudy planned to get a grilled cheese after Luke finished his lunch.
"Maybe, we'll get some ice cream before we leave," she said.
Sitting at one of the picnic tables nearby, Peggy Kemp, of Manchester, fed her dog, a 2-year-old Tibetan terrier named Mamie, pieces of her corn dog. Mamie loves corn dogs, Kemp said. "She likes anything that mommy likes."
Kemp said she had driven past the event several times and was driving by Friday, on her way to Hellam Township to house-sit her sister-in-law's house, when she decided to stop.
"I had to make several U-turns to get in here," she said.
But it was worth it.
"I think it's cool," she said, adding that she watches "The Great Food Truck Race" on The Food Network and likes the cuisine.
The vendors enjoy it too.
For Dave Anderson, proprietor of the old-school trailer, Dave's Kitchen, it's a chance to do some business on what usually is an off day. The Red Lion resident said he does a lot of carnivals and events like that on weekends, but most weeks, he has Friday clear.
"Weekdays, we don't have a lot going on," he said, "and it's not that far away."
Business is "hit or miss," he said.
"It depends on what people want to eat. Last week," he said, pointing to the food truck parked next to him, "they had a line. Now, look at it today."
The truck was doing walk-up business at the time.
"You just don't know," Anderson said.
It just seems patrons are drawn to food trucks. Veronica Jones, who lives in Springettsbury Township and is 37 weeks pregnant, was making her first visit to Food Truck Friday and said, "I'm very excited for it."
She got a meatball sandwich from Mara-Leo's Italian Food Truck.
"It reminds me of the fair," she said. "There's a summer feel to it. You get to be outside. You get to enjoy the summer."