Food Trucks: El Gastronomo Vagabundo and The Toasted Tangerine.

Today there was a Food Truck Eats event  in the courtyard of the Bay Adelaide Centre. Across from the new Trump Hotel and Tower and in the financial district, four trucks had line ups of people between 11 and 2pm waiting for some good eats.
As this was my first experience, I eagerly rushed over to decide  between the food of The Toasted Tangerine, El Gastronomo Vagabundo, Cupcake Diner and  The Blue Donkey Streatery.
I waited for an hour and never made it to the front of the line.

Like people in any industry, you have 45 minutes to 1 hour for lunch and you should wait at most 15 minutes to be served food so you can sit down and enjoy eating it. Every restaurant knows how valuable time is. Unless I’m confused about food trucks, I thought the food was partially prepped already and just needed to be finished off and served.  After waiting an hour in line to find out the item I wanted was sold out, I decided to poll the crowd rather than continue swearing under my breath.  I discoverd that the average wait was about a half an hour to 45 minutes  in line to order and pay for the food and then another half an hour to be served the food. I ran into a friend who waited  a total of an hour and 45 minutes and felt the food was not good enough to warrent that kind of a wait and she won’t be trying it again. There were many people who had to go back to work or were just plain tired of waiting and they asked (and received) their money back. This is the financial district where people spend money on lunch everyday. What were they thinking?

I am not a person who enjoys waiting for anything and the fact that I waited an hour and still didn’t taste any of the food makes me want to kick myself.

Note to hotdog vendors: show up wherever there is a food truck. You will make a killing!

Here are some tips for the organizers of this event if you ever feel you would like to make it up to the financial district and want loyal customers:

  • Choose vendors who are a bit more organized with their timing and proportioning of food reserves (you shouldn’t be running out of items if you’ve planned properly)
  • Include a vendor that just sells drinks (drink cart) so at least people can occupy themselves with something to staff off the hunger
  • If you have people in excess of waiting of 20 minutes for food, you should offer them something for free (coupon for future use, an extra item for free),  a discount or an apology
  • Organize events with enough food trucks to meet the demands of the customer base that will help shorten line ups – or back to my first point – only choose experienced food truck vendors that can pump out the food. Get tips from The Great Food Truck Race.

I understand and appreciate what the Ontario Food Truck Association  is trying to do in order to introduce the city to street food but if you’re not organized and ready to meet the demand, you’ll lose customers.


8 thoughts on “Food Trucks in Toronto are a Waste of Time

  1. That’s a shame, hopefully they’ll get their act together soon because food trucks are so cool…a friend of mine went to the Distillery for an event last year and said the same thing

  2. Ummm, not a very convincing review. You were entinced by the food trucks but you haven’t explained what excited you about this new experience in the first place. In the first paragraph, you might provide some details about your anticipation or past experiences with this type of culinary experience. What were your expectations or why were you feeling apprehensive about food trucks in general?

    As for the second paragraph, I think that you should tighten up your narrative and really explain why you were so disappointed. Really, a forty-five minute wait was a huge problem? Why? As a reader, I would expect that would be about average. There was nothing rewarding or redeeming about the wait? Surely, you spoke to someone in line or felt the warm sun on your face, if only for a minute or two. I’m not clear why this was such a horrible experience. You need to do your job as narrator: show us rather that telling us!

    I’m quite interested in the whole experience of food truck dining but I don’t feel satisfied by this review!

    • Ken – thanks for the response but this was not a review and I was not trying to narrate or convince my readers of anything. It was PG version of a rant… just my opinion. I try to keep my posts short and my style is informal so it will not be full of alot of background information. This may not be the kind of blog you may want to read. The answers to some of your comments are implied. For those who don’t know about food trucks, I provided a link so you can educate yourself. The web site will tell you what they are all about and give a list of all the trucks operating in the province. People are interested in food trucks because they are foodies and like the unique style of food that is offered. It just depends on your taste and sense of foodie adventure. I was open to trying it but did not know what to expect exactly (maybe this was my apprehension). My disappointment was very clear. I don’t like waiting for anything and I waited an hour and still did not get any food.I wasn’t even at the front of the line but the middle with about 40 people in front of me. If you are okay with waiting 45 minutes for food, that is a personal choice. But for me, it was a Wednesday (work day) and a lunch hour ( I repeat lunch hour). I had to go back to work as most people who were there did. It was not a weekend or a holiday and it wasn’t at a park or the beach. It was the lunch hour in a business area of a work week so 45 minutes or the hour I actually waited is way too long.No one has to agree with my opinion. I spoke to quite a few people who were complaining about the wait. They wanted to leave but waited so long they felt they should stay because it would be worth it. Those of us who could not stay because it took so long had to get their money back. I did mention this in the article as well. The few rays of sun were blocked by the tall buildings and brisk wind killed the warmth. The one thing readers can take away from my post is that they should be prepared to wait. Let me know when you go to your first food truck event. I would be happy to hear about your experience. Maybe you can go a guest post on my blog?

  3. Dianne,

    I just wrote you a reply that seems to have disappeared into Cyberspace. The jist of the note was: “Oops, mybad” (although I’m far too old to talk like that). I thought I was replying to an actual restaurant review about the food trucks, thinking it was fair game to say I would like to read more, etc., and now understand my mistake in not realizing that it was just your impressions.

    You have quite rightly put me in my place — I deserve it. Fact is, I’ve taken a couple of creative writing courses where we spent hours telling each other idiotic things like, “You haven’t done your job as a narrator.” I was just having some fun and trying to be mischievous.

    Just delete my comments — it was late and I was writing some other stuff that required the terse and annoying tone.

    I’m sorry. Can I buy you a pop and pizza slice to set things right?


  4. Dianne — it is too bad you had such a negative experience at the latest Food Truck Eats event. I am certain that none of the vendors are happy about the wait times their clients have to experience during these large scale events. I am not sure if you are aware but the current city restrictions makes it impossible for these trucks to serve curbside on a regular basis, so what ends up happening is that many excited food truck enthusiasts, including myself, end up having to endure long lines up to get this yummy food! I can see why you would think that these long line ups are due to slow service within the truck, but the way I see it if large crowds of people are showing up at the same time, even if the service takes say, a minute, from the time the person places their order, to the time they get their food, there will be a wait for as many people who are in the line up. 45 people — 45 minutes. I appreciate that it would be frustrating to wait your whole lunch hour and not receive lunch ~ but hopefully you can channel your frustration into something productive by contacting your city counselor (http://streetfoodto.com/) in an effort to improve the conditions these food trucks are working under.

  5. Keep blogging. It’s fun and a great way to get to publish your point-of-view about an event. We went to Foodstock back in October — it was such an interesting and unusual day, yet there was only one or two media types covering the event. When I read the Star reporter’s piece, I realized that my point-of-view was very different and that I had my own story to tell about the day!

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