So here we go. Another in the long, tawdry list of 2011 year in review blogs. Seeing how mine is 2011.011 (got an extra 4 days in there) I'm sure that will make it extra special to our readers.
2011 was a big year for food trucks in Boise. A huge year, in fact. By some miracle of timing and divine intervention we managed to actually time a wave of new businesses with the actual demand of said business. There are the newbies such as Archie's Place, Stuck In Your Grill and B29 Streatery and then we have the rise of Brown Shuga and Riceworks to prominence from years of hard work. As the months rolled on, our respective roles and themes seemed to crystallize as well.
My role, it seems, is to be somewhat outspoken. This has come about for a few reasons: natural inclination being top of the list. I am tried and true back of the house. It was determined a long time ago that it was better off for everyone if I did not talk to the guest. Or the press. Or anyone in general. In addition to my natural state of persnickityness, I have the benefit of being a cog in a larger machine, which has been eating all my social media time of late. Add in a dash of NYC attitude which I refuse to relinquish and you end up with that most dangerous of things, a cook with a computer.
2011 was a year of successes, trials and tribulations. The hard thing about doing something new is that it is, well, new. B29 Streatery took it to the streets in the best fashion we could manage. We have done breakfast, lunches, dinners, late nights, farmer's markets, concessions, beer festivals, winter markets, caterings and food truck rallies. In some cases, we've done all of the above in the same couple of days. For a while, it seemed like you couldn't turn around without seeing the truck. And then, all of a sudden, we were gone. Poof. Off the grid almost completely.
We managed to learn a few things during all those days and nights in the crush. The biggest thing we learned is that while the denizens of Boise are ready for the food truck movement, the City of Boise is not quite there yet. Now, I understand that Boise is a very spread out city. The percentage of city available to do business in for a food truck vastly outnumbers the percentage of area that we cannot do business in. But like every red-blooded American, I want what's on the other side of the fence. I want access to what is supposed to be a vibrant, economically diverse and locally driven downtown area. I want to bring to Boise what is in place in Portland and starting to appear in Seattle, San Diego, LA, Philadelphia, and the hits keep on rolling. Instead, I get boundaries that protect a downtown core that is slowly shrinking and riddled with vacant real estate.
Here's the deal: no one is handing out money for upper end restaurants. Food trucks are a relatively inexpensive way for the up and coming chefs of the area to make a name for themselves in a low risk, moderate reward atmosphere. If we, as a city, want to keep the chain restaurants out and keep Boise local, diverse and supportive of our food culture, the city needs to back up the only way that we, the young and disenfranchised culinary elite, have to progress our business prospects. Look at Portland and Seattle, where the upper end food trucks have gained traction. The next step for them? A brick and mortar setting. Skillet Cafe. Marination Station. You want local restaurants to take those 800-1000 square foot restaurant parcels downtown? Give the food trucks a couple of years of full support and those parcels will be full. Otherwise, the Quick Serve Chain Commandos are waiting in the wings.
The big question is, who am I to suggest this? I'm just a dude who runs a truck. I am also a veteran of the kitchens of Roy Yamaguchi, Wolfgang Puck, Starwood Hotels in Hawaii and New York City, a top 10 new restaurant in the US, James Beard Nominated Brick 29 Bistro and a Certified Executive Chef with the American Culinary Federation. I am the type of person who for many reasons, cannot get funding for a restaurant. So, I am a dude who runs a truck. Jason Farber who owns and operates Archie's Place is a dude who runs a truck. He is also one of the more familiar faces in the Boise food scene. Mike Mohica of Ono's Cafe and Kanak Attack Catering is thinking of joining the truck business. She's gonna shoot me because I can't spell, but Yvonne at Brown Shuga is no joke. She's got chops. We support local farms, local vendors and are an economically viable option to the traditional restaurant. We've gone a long way to proving our worth, the next step comes from the City of Trees. All we're looking for is a little bit of Aretha's favorite 7 letter word.
Now after all that, back to the "Poof." Our plans for 2012 are considerably more conservative than 2011. We will continue to be a fixture at the Boise Food Truck Rallies. Catering will continue to be a focus and we are in the middle of a website remodel to reflect that. Concessions, Festivals and similar events have been very good to us and we are going to be a presence at more of those events. What this means for our faithful followers and fans, is that B29 Streatery is not going to be omnipresent in the forseeable future. I apologize to the tips of my toes for not keeping up on the social media the last couple of months. There isn't an excuse and I won't try to sell you one. Just know that I am going to keep better tabs on things from now on.
Once again, we will be at the Food Truck Rallies and will pick up more gigs as the year goes on. All your favorites will be on board, and you can usually count on me for something out of left field on the special board. Keep an eye posted on Facebook, Twitter and the good ol' B29 Streatery News. We do have some surprises in the works but its no fun if I tell them now.
2011 is down for the count, now just working on a better 2012. On the bright side, I've got an open invitation to lead a barbarian horde when civilization crumbles.