The Gunbarrel Commons (GC) food truck party story and how I choose trucks
-- In 2010, I started CU’s food truck program on east campus and had trucks coming five days a week. I got to know “my truckies” and promoted their visits to the surrounding businesses. A few years later, CU food services took it over the program and started charging hefty fees. My truckies could no longer afford to come and went elsewhere. On a morning walk one day, I looked at GC park and thought, “This would be a perfect place to have food truck parties! Best of all, it’s private and the road is in the county, not the city, so that alleviates many restrictions. And, I can help my truckies with some new business. I think I’ll look into this!” I asked the parks board, did a practice party on Oct. 29, 2011, and the rest is history.
WHY I DO THIS
I do this as a volunteer around my full-time job. I do it just for fun, to make my neighbors
happy, because I love food, and to help the truckies. Win-win! I don’t get
paid. As a matter of fact, I buy the signs and anything else needed. I put
together the program (see below), manage the trucks, gather their legal
paperwork, work with the park and complex boards, and call around frantically
to find a fill-in if a truck has to cancel. I post flyers at complexes to
promote the series, put up and take down street signs before and after each
event, host parties once a month from before the trucks arrive till they begin to leave (I did them twice a month 2010-2014.). I move
garbage cans and do a walkabout for trash after it’s over. I even escort the
truckies to the the Powderhorn pool’s bathroom as needed. [I’m always looking for
backup hosts to be on call in case I’m sick or on vacation the night of a party
- contact me if you want to volunteer.] I truly have fun and love meeting my
neighbors and seeing their smiles. It's my own big party twice a month! And, I love my truckies! But, this isn’t a
job and I don’t get paid. And, I don’t know of anyone waiting in the wings to
take over when I decide to stop.
THE TRUCK PROGRAM
When I got permission to start the truck parties for the 2012 season, the park's board, the trucks, and I all agreed on five trucks. This was the magic number for the trucks to do good business, yet keep
the lines reasonable. As well, it was the most the board wanted. [In 2013, they allowed me to bring a sixth truck on board, but our regular truckies aren't doing so well anymore, so if we have a cancellation, I won't normally fill it. Although we've also added a dog treat truck.]
I choose trucks and owners that I know and trust (see below) and
whose foods compliment each other, not compete. Ours are some of the best trucks around! I schedule the trucks in mid-winter, before they book up for the season. I guarantee my truckies a series because they want to book gigs that they can count on for the season...and there are many neighborhood series that I compete against now, as well as breweries who use trucks as their "restaurants". Even Boulder is starting to welcome "pods", line up gatherings at parks and downtown and is creating a food truck area on Valmont and 28th. Unfortunately, many of the good Denver trucks don’t want to drive to Boulder either. By January, when I finish booking, some of our trucks had a few of our dates scheduled already. It’s hard to
find good, available trucks...and once the season kicks in, most bets are off. My truckies are
loyal to me so I’m loyal to them. I would like to shake it up a bit and try new
trucks, but I don’t want to “fire” or alienate my loyal truckies. So, short of
attrition, I do my best to find new trucks when I need backups. Sorry, but I don't have the time or desire to play booking agent as all summer, nor it it in our best interest to do. In the end, for as many folks that like variety, we have folks that count on certain trucks each week so they can order their favorites.
QUALITIES I LOOK FOR IN A TRUCK
If I need a truck to fill in for a cancellation, or to replace a truck if one leaves the series, the following are qualities that I look for. I am always happy to add good trucks to my backup list.
-- Great food that our customers will love! I need to try the food first before I will consider a truck or add them to the backup list.
-- Their food needs to compliment the rest of the lineup, and not compete with a current trucks. Variety is good. Unique is good.
-- Owners who I like and can work well with and who will follow our guidelines:
-- Agree not to heavily promote the events to the public as
GC is a private park and we don’t want to get big (like Prospect). Truck's announcements to their Facebook/Twitter followers are fine. Ours is a
family-oriented, neighborhood event. Non-park owners are welcome, but they
aren’t our main audience and things could change if we have problems.
-- Be OK with the fact we don’t have a public bathroom. Truckies need to find me to escort them to the poolhouse if they need to go.
-- If a truck is considered for the series, we ask they be loyal. Trucks must intend to make all series dates, baring technical difficulties, sickness, or unique special circumstances (i.e. a huge truck party they can’t refuse like Truckit!). Give me as much notice as possible if they have to cancel. Help me find a backup if I need help and they can do so. We don’t want to be treated as fill-ins around better gigs. I have a list of great trucks who want to get into this series, so trucks need to treat us as they would like us to treat them if they want to stick around. That said, if our series doesn't work out well for them, I'd wish them well if they wanted to bow out.
FOR OUR CUSTOMERS
Bring your blankets and chairs and have a lovely evening. Gunbarrel Commons is a private park belonging to five complexes (Powderhorn, Huntington Point, Willowbrook, Hunter Creek, Habitat). That said, it is open to the public. Please respect our park. Pick up your litter. It is a dog park, so bring your dog if they are well behaved around people and other dogs - and pick up after them. No loud music that may bother the neighbors (thus don’t look forward to any amplified bands). Please don’t park on the White Rock side of the park where the trucks park – we will ask you to move. We reserve the right to ask anyone to leave if they are disturbing the peace. HAVE FUN