By Vickie Vértiz
Many food trucks aspire to turn their businesses into permanent events. In San Bernardino, the steady flow of ravenous customers flocking to downtown farmers market and to food truck festivals convinced at least one owner to open a lasting space. According to the San Bernardino Sun, the owners of Smoke’em if you Got’em BBQ are planning a “downtown brick-and-mortar restaurant” to open next year.
Owner Jeff McCurdy spoke to the Sun and said that the goal is to open in summer, although it’s not definite and they haven’t found the perfect storefront yet.
“We’ve had huge success on food truck days,” McCurdy he said to the paper last week during the latest Third Thursday Food Fest. “And more and more people on regular Thursdays, so I think we could get a good mid-morning-to-late-lunch crowd down here.”
Every Thursday, McCurdy and other vendors sell food at the Court Street Square for the San Bernardino Downtown Farmshare and Market, which is a partnership with Chris Peterson of the Smokey Pits BBQ.
The paper also spoke to market staff manager Sandra Olivas who said that the event has gone on nearly every Thursday since July, with solid business results. The only exceptions include the next two Thursday which happen to fall on Christmas and the first day of the new year.
Business really picks up on the third Thursday of every month, said the paper, “when food trucks come to the parking lot by Court and E streets” from eleven in the morning to two in the afternoon.
Olivas also said that they’ve “had a pickup since the food trucks started, as people find out we’re here every week.”
For the city, still facing serious financial debt, the hope is that the food truck phenomenon, while waning in other cities, will lead to a revitalization of the downtown area. The Sun added that officials are planning on building on the success of the food truck festival. Attendance at the events this fall topped approximately 1,000, people, even while “it competed with holiday parties and vacation.”
“Now that we have this brand loyalty, what can we do with it?” said Mark Persico to the Sun. Persico is the community development director and food truck organizer for the city. “We [are] going to be talking about that with the sponsors in January. People realize now that there is a downtown with a lot to offer[…].”
Persico added that despite the lower attendance at the event on Thursday, December 22nd, he told the paper he “was glad to see a higher percentage of people in casual attire, indicating that rather than coming from nearby government buildings they drove downtown to get lunch.”
The Sun also spoke to eaters like Redlands resident Tom Schumaker, who said he saw the food trucks after looking for somewhere to eat on a break from jury duty.
“There [is] really not anywhere to eat, is there?” he said. “This is good, though — I [would] come back. More stuff like this and maybe San Bernardino can change.”
Councilman Jim Mulvihill spoke to the paper and said that he is excited about the change the food trucks could bring to the city.
“There [is] this reputation that downtown [is] not safe or there [is] nothing to do here,” he said. “But great events like this can make people see what there is. They can come downtown, go to the Regal Cinema … and we can build from that.”
Coming right up: BBQ food truck goes brick and mortar
By Vickie Vértiz