Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Food Truck Fair = FAIL!

I attended the “First Annual Minneapolis Food Truck Fair” downtown Minneapolis on Sunday along with thousands of other people; a thousand too many.   

I bought my ticket on Groupon for $7.00 (half of the general admission price).  I had seriously debated the VIP ticket Groupon was offering for $25.00 but decided “a free slider and free beer samples” wasn’t enough to win me over.   I made a good call.   

Sunday was a beautiful day and I was hungry.   I worked out and skipped breakfast in anticipation.  When I arrived with my sister at 12:40, we couldn’t believe the line to get in.   It was insane!   We debated leaving right away and heading to a nearby patio for Bloody Marys.   Instead we found our friends in line.   They were a little closer to the front but not much.  They had VIP and were in a separate line that wasn’t moving at all.   

Lots of People in Line
This picture doesn't do it justice, but if you see the tent to the far right and then the light post to the left, that is basically the line (and it wasn't single file, it was about 12 people wide).   People were line up past that last light post waiting to get to the white tents.  CRAZY!
The front of the line was a complete mess.  They had too few people trying to hand out wrist bands and it was completely unorganized.   When we finally got in, we headed straight to the “Get Sauced” food truck.  The line was relatively short and we ordered pork tacos and corn.  The food was great. 

Having to sit on the dirty curb in the hot sun was not great.  The event only had enough tables for about 30 people to sit and the people that had those seats were not giving them up.  They had people holding the seats while other members of their party went on food and beer runs.   Did I mention I was thirsty?  And that they did not have any beverage options other than beer and whiskey and the lines were too long to wait to spend more money in this darn festival.  I was hot, thirsty, and irritated.  By the time we finished our taco the food lines were completely insane.   Waiting for food and beverages for hours was not appealing so we left.   It was a complete waste of time and money.  I am mad about my $7.00 but am happy that I didn’t go the VIP route.  Had I not pre-paid, there is no way I would’ve waited in line to pay to get in there.  It was ridiculous.   I feel bad for those that came in from out of town for this and didn't have the foresight to bail at the sight of the line.  

I am not sure who planned the event but clearly they were amateurs.    They completely oversold the event and executed it poorly.    Here are some things that they need to do IF they try again.
  • Have clear lines set up.   There should be a line for people with tickets, people that need to buy tickets, and a VIP line.  
  • There needs to be clear exits.   The area was fenced in and the only exit was to try to work your way out through the narrow entrance you entered through.    It was tight and it would’ve been complete chaos if there was a fire or anything that required an evacuation.
  • There should be non-alcoholic beverages readily available.   I was told that he food trucks weren’t “allowed” to sell beverages.   So if you were thirsty and didn’t want beer or whiskey (or to wait in a 30 minute line for one) you were to remain parched.  
  • Don’t oversell the event.   The organizers got piggy and completely oversold the event.   It was way too many people in a small unorganized place.   
  • Have more food trucks.   There were lots of food trucks that weren’t there and there needed to be more with the amount of people.  And there needs to be more options.  For example, I didn’t see any dessert trucks there?   Ice cream would’ve been perfect.   
  • Have sample sizes.   The food trucks should offer small “tasting” samples of their food.  It would be nice to try more than one item and “sample” many different things in smaller portion sizes.  That would be good for the food trucks too.   If I have my top two picked out and the portions are big, I'm not going to have room in my tummy or cash in my pocketbook to try anything else; but if there were smaller sample sizes that would be a great way to explore more of the trucks.
  • Have express “VIP” lines.  I didn’t really see any advantage for the VIPs.   It seemed like a total rip off.  And the line for the free burger was insane.   
Honestly though, even if they do implement some of the suggestions above, I'm not sure I'd give them a second chance.  The whole thing really left a bad taste in my mouth.   AND.... I can hit these food trucks around town without paying an admission fee.   The whole idea of it is asinine if there are no benefits to make the admission fee worthwhile. 

OK, I’ve spent enough energy on this event.  If you want to know how everyone else felt (hint – I am not alone in my opinion), check out these links.

They got lots of negative feedback/comments on their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MnFoodTruckFair

On a positive note, what is your favorite food truck (in Minneapolis or elsewhere)? 

In Minneapolis.....I really liked the Get Sauced truck, I love the lobster rolls a Smack Shack, the fish & chips at Anchor Fish & Chips are really good, and I really like the mini donuts at Chef Shack (they were at the Food Truck Festival but didn't have the donuts on their menu - which was very disappointing).   Another truck that I can't wait to try is World Street Kitchen. 


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