The Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce plans to ride the momentum of gourmet food trucks by bringing them back to the community on a regular basis.
On a chilly Friday evening last week, Palisades residents waited in line for their favorite foods at the Village Holiday Eat and Greet. There were approximately seven food trucks spread out on North Swarthmore, Antioch and Via de la Paz. They offered a variety of food from hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches to lobsters and Greek food.
“This is our third or fourth try at this, and the public really likes it,” said Arnie Wishnick, executive director of the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce. “Some of the restaurants are not as thrilled, but walking around, I see that some of the restaurants are doing quite well.”
Many of the businesses in the area participated in the event and tried to use the opportunity to attract new customers.
The Chamber’s merchant committee proposed the Eat and Greet events due to the growing popularity of food trucks in California and across the country. During the recession, many chefs were being laid off from high-end restaurants and started offering their services at food trucks.
Donna Morgan, the owner of Palazzolo’s Gelato Truck, said they have a large following through social media, and their loyal customers will follow them wherever they set up their truck.
“It’s designed to bring the community out, and people can visit with the store owners,” she said.
Although some people thought Friday night was too cold for gelato, the gelato truck still had plenty of customers. Morgan said many people purchased ice cream as they were leaving so that they could eat it in a warm place.
Some customers who had attended similar events in other communities were disappointed that there were not more trucks, but they were still happy to see something new in the area. One mother said going to a food truck is much easier than eating at a restaurant when you have young children.
The four-hour event was organized by Michael Mangimelli of Boca Man and Susan Payne of Scarlett’s Cupcakes. The organizers hope to have two food-truck events each year with one in November and one in July.
“I think it’s great walking around, and we also hope here at the Chamber that while people are waiting in line, they turn around and see a store that maybe they’ve never seen before and they’ll go back and spend some money there,” Wishnick said.
Food was not the only attraction though. Visitors had an opportunity to sit down and play videogames in the back of a truck. Nate Herrera, fleet manager for Game Truck, said their company was the first to develop videogame trucks in 2006, but the market has grown. They regularly go to festivals and other events, and Herrera said many people are surprised to see them.
“It’s always like, ‘What’s going on here?’” he said.
Herrera said one mother who had never played videogames was convinced by her children to try a game on Friday night. After playing for more than half an hour in the truck, she told Herrera she was going to buy a gaming system.
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