Food truck rally enjoying stops in Tarpon
By Eric Horchy | Suncoast NewsTARPON SPRINGS - These aren't your parents' or grandparents' ho-hum lunch wagons.
Published: June 21, 2012
Published: June 21, 2012
With the culinary-exploration craze gaining momentum, seeking out creative, tasty and largely affordable foodstuffs from loudly decorated four-wheeled mini-kitchens continues to be one of the trend's hot things.
Local residents got their third taste of what these mobile food factories had to offer with last Saturday's Tarpon Springs Food Truck Rally.
An estimated 3,000-plus came to downtown Tarpon, where 13 trucks and another smaller dessert vendor served patrons up and down Tarpon Avenue between Hibiscus Street and Ring Avenue.
Nearly as eclectic and uncommon as the tastes offered on the menus are the names of the trucks themselves. Operations such as Stinky Bunz, Rollin' Zoinks and Keep'n It Reel delighted eager eaters with a mix of everything from surf to turf and field to orchard, American to Mexican and Asian to Indian.
That variety, combined with quality and affordability, is what continues to drive the intrigue of food trucks, said Rollin' Zoinks operator Tammy Young.
"I think people just love food and they like to try unique and different things," she said. "A lot of the trucks are offering that kind of creativity. You look at some of the menus and you're getting some items that you would get at a five-star restaurant, for half the price, maybe."
Organizing one of the Suncoast's biggest leaps into the burgeoning culinary industry began last year by Todd and Shannon Sturtz's online food-scene blog turned company, Tasting Tampa.
Tasting Tampa's first-ever food truck rally was in Tampa last September. It made its bow in Tarpon Springs in December. The company organized a follow-up rally on March 24 and Sturtz said attendance has grown each time.
"It's great," Sturtz said of his positive review of holding events in Tarpon. "The city was super helpful."
The event was regularly expected to run from 4-8 p.m., but demand and crowd sizes required many trucks to continue serving nearly up until 9:00.
Sturtz said there is resistance to navigate at times from some restaurant and business owners in certain communities, but he's hopeful they will see the symbiosis that can exist in terms of sales and traffic.
"In Tarpon, a lot of the local restaurant owners brought out samples of their food, their drinks, and they made a bunch of money off of this thing. The place was packed full of people."
As Tasting Tampa's food truck rallies tour the Suncoast circuit while picking up additional stops along the way, Sturtz said he fully plans to keep coming back to Tarpon Springs as long as the city and residents are interested. His hope is to have trucks in the historic downtown once every three months.
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