Santa Monica's Food Truck Lot a Rousing Success on Day One, but Shut Down by City on Day Two [Updated]
A little after 7 p.m., some eight hours after cooking non stop, Sumant Pardal of the India Jones Chow Truck was completely out of food. He was wiped out, his eyes were glazed and he was ready for a well deserved break. "Good day?" we asked. His eyes widened. "Yes!" he exclaimed as enthusiastically as possible as he finally sat down for the day.
It's safe to say that yesterday's "soft opening" of the new Santa Monica Gourmet Food Truck Corner was a huge success. Not only did Pardal run out of food, so did John Bowler of Barbie's Q. From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., a constant stream of people entered the lot, located at Santa Monica and 14th, to order food from a handful of trucks.
The success was due partly to the media attention and Twitter (it appears we broke the story) and partly to its visible location along busy Santa Monica Boulevard. The sign announcing on-site parking helped a lot, too.
Behind this possible new trend for food trucks--that trend would be permanent spaces for mobile eateries to share--is the non profit Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association (SCMFVA) and the property owner, Steve Taub.
"I'm a foodie and I adore good food," said Taub, who took property off the real estate market once he joined forces with SCMFVA. "It's all happened very quickly and there is a need in this area to have good restaurants," he explained, referring to the multitude of car dealerships and medical facilities within walking distance. Taub has lived in Santa Monica all his life and used to own Steve Taub Porsche Audi before retiring from the business.
Future plans for the lot include beefing up the property, such as tables, chairs, WiFi, a dog area and bicycle parking. Seven to eight trucks will be on rotation six days a week (no Sundays, unless there is a demand) with half the trucks during the lunch rush, the other half for dinner. Currently, there is on-site parking, a bathroom and garbage cans.
In order for a truck to make an appearance on the lot, they must have two things: a Santa Monica business license and a membership to SCMFVA, which already has about 17 member trucks. "My vision three months ago was to have one voice to address community issues and to represent the 55 trucks on the streets," said Coleen Craig, co-founder of the lot and secretary of the nonprofit (she also owns Don Chow Tacos). "We want to have an information portal, where people who are thinking of opening up a gourmet food truck business will have all the codes and laws for each city." Craig also envisions the association as a place for mentoring and equitable solutions.
Other players in the association and food truck lot include John Bowler, former mayor of Hermosa Beach and owner of Barbie's Q and Matthew Geller, co-founder of the Venice Booster Club and a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council's land use committee.
The lot is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To see what truck is on the lot on any given day, follow them on Twitter at @SMFoodTruckLot.
UPDATE: After we published this article, the Food Truck Lot twittered this: "We may have an issue... SM may be shutting us down for an alleged zoning issue. Stay tuned."
UPDATE 2: A subsequent tweet: "We've been shutdown... The land owner was mistaken on some zoning issues. I'm sorry guys... Stay tuned."
The headline had been adjusted to reflect the updates.