Text: R. Collins
Summer is nearly here, which means it’s about time for our favorite local brews and delicacies to hit the road in food-truck-form. Thanks to the Grand Rapids-based organization GR8 Food Trucks, this summer residents and visitors in the region will have access to some of the area’s most popular food trucks two nights per week, and to one food truck extravaganza in June 2021. For Alan Stone, organizer at GR8 Food Trucks, getting these delicious events together—and the food truck scene in general—is all about the relationship between patrons and local business, no boundaries involved.
“The community brings lawn chairs and blankets; the kids run around playing as families visit different food trucks for dinner and dessert. Food Trucks are the ultimate expression of local businesses, as 90 percent of the time the business owners themselves are working on the truck helping make your order,” Stone said.
To expand their popular Food Truck Fridays at Riverside Park—now in its fifth year—the group will also introduce Food Truck Tuesdays this summer, held in Garfield Park from May 18 through August 31st. Last year the Food Truck Friday events were held in limited capacity, but prior to COVID-19 they brought upwards of 16 food and dessert trucks to Riverside Park each time. The lineup this year promises to entice more than ever, with popular options like Patty Matters and Nick’s Gyros, and newer presences like Mexcellente on the menu.
Other names in the rotating selection include Fire and Rice, Saladino Smoke, Kona Ice, Mapocho, El Jalapeño, Pressed in Time, and UCC Desserts—formally “Underground Cookie Club.” Together the offerings cover bases from burrito bowls, barbecue, and sliders to pressed sandwiches, frozen cookie treats, and more. Regardless, they all provide ways for communities to get outdoors and support local businesses in perhaps the most fundamental way, while also spending safe, distanced time with friends and family. This is Stone’s favorite aspect of working within the food truck realm.
“I prefer the food truck industry over traditional brick-and-mortar [business], because it allows us to really go out and meet our customers. We don’t have to sit back and spend [thousands] on advertising dollars and hope it brings people in. We are able to go out and be part of the communities, be a part of local festivals,” Stone said.
Besides organizing a tasty complement for local festivals, this summer GR8 Food Trucks will partner with the City of Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department to create a festival of its own. Last year’s postponed Food Truck Rally will return June 19th with a large selection of 20 food trucks, alongside live music and local beer for a classic summer outing that celebrates the culinary quality of the Grand Rapids area and its hardworking small businesses.
Food Truck Fridays in Riverside Park—May 21st to Sept. 3rd, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET
Food Truck Tuesdays in Garfield Park—May 18th to Aug. 31st, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET
Food Truck Rally at 4950 Breton Road SE, Kentwood, MI. June 19th from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET