Monday, July 30, 2012
Opening of Cedars Food Park in Dallas was a smash
There was an immediate sense of community at this event.
Somehow, it’s only fitting that the first food truck park in Dallas set up in the Dallas Heritage Village, a living museum that memorializes North Texas life from 1840 to 1910. The buzz for this event was very high and Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village delivered in spades, making history in the 21st century.
The activities were scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m., but by 4:30 p.m., the crowd had already started to arrive despite temperatures well over 100 degrees. The trucks pulled in and circled town center reminiscent of the wagon trains that brought the first settlers to Dallas, parked under massive 150 year old oaks and surrounding an expanse of grass. Deep Ellum Brewing Company set up in the Bandstand and Dude, Sweet Chocolate set up in the Lawyer’s Office. One of the buildings that was air-conditioned was set up with tables and chairs to provide a place to escape the heat for a while. An early evening taping by one of the local TV channels projected the attendance at 2,000, but the increase in patrons as the sun went down suggests the actual number may be closer to 3,000.
The crowds were good from the start and grew noticeably as the sun began to set and temperatures moderated. Those who braved the late afternoon heat were treated to very short lines and very quick service. As the sun set and the temperature fell, the crowd swelled and so did the lines. The truck staffs worked hard and fast to assure the lines kept moving as quickly as possible. For the most part, I saw few people who didn’t think the wait was worth it. To the best of my knowledge, all of the trucks came stocked sufficiently to serve the masses and no one ran out of food completely before the scheduled 10 p.m. finish. Well, no one except Deep Ellum Brewery, who ran out of beer by about 7 p.m. and made an emergency run back to their nearby location for more, with no break in service.
Throughout the evening, musical entertainment was provided by The Sicklies, an enjoyable three-piece group, from a stage that resembled a porch (well, except for the giant loudspeaker columns). The music floated across the grounds loud enough to enjoy without drowning out conversation with friends, new and old.
The focus of the event was shared by the beautiful grounds of the Dallas Heritage Village and, of course, the food trucks. There was food to satisfy virtually any craving. The list of participating trucks includes a veritable who’s who of Dallas food trucks, with 18 trucks participating: Good Karma Kitchen, Ruthie’s Rolling Café, Rockin’ Ricks, Rock and Roll Tacos, Café Con Leche, Four Seasons, Jack’s Chowhound, Enticed, Free Wheel’n Café, Three Lions, Cool Haus, Nammi, Gandolfo’s, Crazy Fish, The Butcher’s Son, Ssahm BBQ, Cajun Tailgators, and Rockstar Bakeshop.
This event was the kickoff for an ongoing program that will bring food trucks to Dallas Heritage Village Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting on August 1 and weekly events on Thursday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. starting August 16.
Kudos to Dallas Brad Friedman and Steve Jordan who conceived Cedars Food Park and partnered with Dallas Heritage Village to create the Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village. Created to capitalize on the popularity of food trucks to draw people to Dallas Heritage Village, the location also provides the food trucks a park-like location to set up. There is ample free parking, no admission fee to the grounds to access the trucks, and the responsiveness to the changing situation by the Cedars staff was unbelievable, especially for a first time event. As the crowds grew, tables and chairs were added to the grounds providing adequate seating for those who did not bring blankets or chairs. The trash cans, while maybe a bit fewer in number than ideal, were constantly emptied, with clean bags put in place for the next round.
This collaboration epitomizes the symbiotic relationship critical to success in a joint venture where each participating member contributes value and the whole is greater than the parts. The trucks were asked to bring out the crowd and to keep them supplied with incredible food. Check! The Cedars’ staff were asked to provide the support structure necessary for any successful event and did so almost transparently. Check! And the Dallas Heritage Village provided a beautiful, park-like setting under the shade of 150-year-old oak trees in exchange for enhanced exposure to the community. Check! The eager, hungry fans assure great traffic and a profitable outing for the trucks. Check! The foundation is laid to repeat the success again and again. Check!
It was a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN for everybody, including the patrons who attended.
But what impressed me the most is the immediate sense of community at this event. There were families, groups of friends, and even the dogs were welcome. People picked up after themselves and left the area as clean as when they arrived. Tables were shared, blankets were spread on the lawn, and friendly exchanges passed between complete strangers with a smile. This is how a food truck event is supposed to be, complete with the sense of community that makes the food truck community as comfortable an old pair of jeans.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I’m already perilously close to that number. Thanks for staying with me and add to the record with your comments below. Whether you were one of the thousands that attended or one of the tens of thousands that missed out, tell us what you think about how Cedars Food Park contributes to the community and what you enjoyed or would like to see in future events. I’ll pass your comment on to the good folks at Cedars Food Park.
Pegasus News Content partner - Food Truck Connection
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