What’s up with foodcarts in RVA?

The productive beginnings of a conversation about what could be next for Richmond’s already successful foodcart scene broke out on Twitter this Saturday. Read on, and continue the discussion!

As you most likely know, Nate’s Taco Truck Stop closed up shop on Friday–which severely limits my access to delicious chicken skin tacos. As I made my way through Saturday in a sad, taco-free haze I took to Twitter looking for an outlet to express my grief. What followed was the productive beginnings of a conversation about what could be next for Richmond’s already successful mobile food purveyors.

Give it a read and contribute your thoughts below!

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Photo by: jonny.hunter

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. I’m pulling for a beignet cart sponsored by Louisiana Flair.

  2. @Paul, Oh man, now that is a fantastic idea.

  3. The city needs a food cart with gluten-free food items. Nate’s provides this, but at the moment that’s the only option.

  4. Maybe they have this but if not can we set them up with GPS so you can pull up a map with all of their locations? Check this out: http://austinfoodcarts.com/austin-mobile-food-cart-trailer-map-2/

    Either way.. last week was my first/last opportunity to try Nate’s. Now my wife is making fun of me because I talk about it like a lost love. Any tips on finding the truck?

    I think all the ideas are great ones. We can call the scavenger hunt, festival or competition the RVA Food Cart-nage.

  5. The downtown/weekday food carts seem to do well by spreading out, to make it easy for office workers to get a quick lunch. Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay (yes that’s how they spell it) was my go-to quick lunch when I didn’t have time to walk 2 blocks to Cafe Ole. Now I work on Tredegar Street and I would love to have a good food cart near Brown’s Island.

    I do love the idea of having multiple food trucks at big events, and having a food truck rodeo as a special event. But for everyday business, I suspect spreading out results in greater overall sales than requiring people to walk to a central location (especially since there isn’t one available near the largest concentration of office buildings). The food truck lots in Portland aren’t all contiguous either. That model works well there, but I would say Main Street actually seems fairly similar at a smaller scale, with a couple carts on each block of Main between 7th and 10th, then down 9th and 10th Streets.

  6. RichmondDoc on said:

    When the Cafe Gutenburg Twitter account was active, we had brainstormed the idea (along with @RVAFoodie) about the idea of a street food court–something that could be set up near downtown on some clear spot. This could provide new food options, bring people into less-busy spots of the city at night, and encourage small business. Not sure I see mich of a downside to trying this, though my understanding is that there would need to be some changes and/or accommodations to city regulations to make it happen.

    Seems all it would need would be some open space, maybe some picnic benches, and trash cans.

  7. As it gets harder to make a profit bringing high quality food to people of average means, chefs will have to reduce overhead and personnel. So food trucks are one solution. Food truck courts don’t have to be static. One is basically in effect at SOTJ for 4hrs per week. There was a successful food truck event in Short Pump of all places. Let the mobile food purveyors freelance and coordinate at will. Just bring them together more often in more parts of town.

  8. Austin, TX has an awesome food cart scene with lots of food “trailer parks”. They recently opened “Soular Food Garden Trailer Park”.

    I’ve been to the one with Torchy’s Tacos and it is amazing. They have an outdoor pavilion with lots of quirky items like a whole wall of found objects spray painted gold (including GI Joes and a babydoll). It reminds me a lot of Lamplighter but on a much larger scale with a pool table and more picnic benches.

    A parking lot would be best. There is one in Jackson Ward at the cross section of Adams and Marshall. Scott’s Addition would be another good option, but it is a tad too far to pull the downtown crowd. With the growth of the dorms on Chamberlayne, First Fridays Art Walk, and convenience to the Fan and downtown, I think a permanent food trailer park would be best at this parking lot. (They could simply pay the monthly fee to park there– it is a barely used parking lot after all).

    It would be great to have the vendors commit to 1 day per week to show up at this lot and then grow to more days over time as it gets more demand.

    Maybe the abandoned building could even become a restaurant or a commercial kitchen for the food vendors to use at some point as well.

    Tweet me @804rva if you want to meet up and discuss this more– I’ll be happy to host a meetup event for it

  9. CaMeKeRVA on said:

    I wonder what Byrd Park would look like as a food cart court.

  10. It would be a party! You know the people sitting in their cars have got the munchies. Don’t forget, Swan and Shields lakes allow canoes. Who will launch the first food boat? We could invite the Fonz to put on some water skis and… jump the shark. (no seriously. bring the food truck party – and extra trash bags)

  11. I agree with Jason.
    DC is a different urban context but it seems like they have a good food truck community in which there’s a recognition that by working together they bring more visibility and legitimacy to food trucks in general, so while they choose locations independently, there’s a bit of coordination to go to different neighborhoods on different days. Allowing food trucks to remain flexible seems key, since corralling them all into the same place every day would sort of defeat the entire benefit of having your restaurant on wheels. (http://foodtruckfiesta.com/)

    they’ve also started doing week-long pop-ups trying to bridge the gap between truck and brick and mortar, utilizing vacant storefronts, providing seating, serving beer, etc.

  12. I would be happy with anything that made it easier to find and get to the food trucks, whether it’s a GPS tracking system or a fixed location/schedule. Since I work in the West End, it’s hard for me to enjoy the delicious offerings of most of RVA’s food trucks, as they tend to congregate downtown and near VCU. If there were adequate parking nearby and an easy to locate schedule, I’d be more willing to venture down there at lunch or dinner.

    Speaking of Portland food trucks, if anyone would like to start a fried pie truck like Whiffie’s, I will love you forever. http://whiffies.com/

  13. Food trucks are such a no-brainer! There is no greater (more dynamic) solution to the unloved public spaces in America. Our cities need to get out of this 60-year aversion to urbanism … RVA is ready for some chaos. On the topic of PDX food carts, mah fav will always be the simple, yet eminent Whole Bowl: http://www.thewholebowl.com/.

    We have enough parking lots for cars … let’s designate some for people.

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