Mobile food trucks are a trend that has been popping up in Austin, Portland, New York and Denver. They’ve even got them in Colorado Springs. So if they’re not allowed inside Boulder, can we really call ourselves the foodiest town in America?
“Boulder is not going to be less progressive than Colorado Springs,” says Ashlie Beckham, the face behind Walnut-a-gogo, the Walnut Café’s mobile food truck.
Currently, mobile food trucks are not permitted within the limits of the city of Boulder unless they’re operating as “caterers,” on private property, and even then that’s tricky.
Rayme Rossello, owner of Comida, the bright pink truck that serves Mexican food, has had the cops called on her while operating on private property with permission from the owner.
“We’ve been asking the city to allow us to operate, and to let us make friends instead of enemies,” Rossello says. “I can speak for myself, and a few other food truck owners, and say that I don’t want to put my Mexicanfood truck in front of a Mexican restaurant.”
Beckham agrees, saying she’d never park her breakfast food truck in front of a place like Lucille’s Creole Café or Peet’s Coffee.
“We’d never want anybody to do that at one of the Walnuts,” she says. “But there’s got to be something between no food trucks allowed anywhere in the city of Boulder and me driving down the middle of Pearl Street and parking sideways.”
City Council is working to change those codes, and had a meeting April 5 to discuss a new set of rules and regulations that would allow the trucks inside city limits — while still protecting the interests of brick and-mortar restaurants. Another meeting will be held in May to vote on the proposed codes.
Until then, you can find trucks like Comida, Walnut-a-gogo, and A.J. Julian’s Top of the Hill Grill West scattered around office parks around 55th Street and in east Boulder at lunch time, or at other locations that most announce on their Twitter and Facebook pages.
“Especially with summertime, and having worked in Boulder, I know I’ve got 30 minutes to go get food at lunch,” says Julian, owner of a newer mobile food vending service. “It’s not feasible sometimes unless you want to have McDonald’s or Wendy’s every day. I want to be able to reach the workers that are not able to get a fresh, healthy lunch on a regular basis without having to spend their whole lunch hour in a baking hot car.”
Julian’s Top of the Hill Grill West sells barbeque food, but is not the meat-only operation you’re used to.
He’s got beef brisket, pulled pork and other traditional barbeque favorites, but also sells a tempeh wrap, veggie burgers and a greensbased salad wrap with homemade vinaigrette. His style, like the other food trucks popping up in Boulder, allows for a blend of great food with the variety and creativity needed to survive in a town that’s lauded for its diverse and plentiful restaurant selection.
“Nobody is successful in Boulder doing it fast or cheap or uncreative,” Beckham says. “That’s never going to work in this town.”
Beckham’s truck, affectionately named “Dinah,” serves food based off the Walnut menu, but with twists that allow for patrons to eat without a fork. Their traditional, beloved Eggs Marcos, a scrambled egg dish with bacon and cream cheese, is transformed into a quesadilla for customers at the Walnut-a-gogo.
The Walnut’s name and credibility has played into the success of Walnut-a-gogo, which just started in December.
“People know that the Walnut’s on the up-and-up.
They know that the food is good, and they recognize us,” Beckham says. “People know the faces of the Walnut Café, and that around town helps us with a following we’d never had if we just started a breakfast truck.”
It helps, too, to have great food. “The food has to be good enough to make people want to come out and sit on the ground,” Rossello says.
She started driving her truck, “Tina,” in May 2010, and is one of the first members of the food truck society now starting to grow in Boulder. She’s been vocal in attempting to change the codes surrounding the trucks.
“It’s a hip and urban development. Sticking us in office parks is not the way that food trucks are supposed to go,” Rossello says. “We won’t stop going to those places, we love them, but in being able to go downtown and get a whole new crowd of people — that makes it fun and easy and exciting.” Whether she’s downtown or somewhere outside city limits, there’s no mistaking Tina’s bright pink paint job.
“It stands out, which is good and bad! When you’re downtown making people mad, it’s bad, but if people are looking for you, it’s great,” Rossello says, laughing. “I chose pink because in Mexico that’s the color of bougainvillea, which is super representative of what Mexico is to me. And it’s feminine, which is representative of me.”
Other food trucks and mobile vending services are getting their wheels on the ground, too. The Tasterie Truck is currently testing recipes for its cupcakes, cookies and other desserts, and should be out in Boulder by late April or May. There’s also Seb’s Wood-Fired Cuisine, a portable wood-fired oven that can deliver pizza literally out of the oven.
Beckham and Julian hope that soon, those Twitter updates can also serve the late-night crowd.
“Basically what I’d like to have happen is have [City Council] say we can have free reign of the city after 10 p.m., when 99 percent of the restaurants are closed,” Julian says. “I used to be a doorman on Pearl, and people would ask where I could get food. I’d say, sorry dude, there’s a gyro there and that’s it.”
“There’s a reason people love the guy who sells gyros at two in the morning,” she says. “We just think they’d like eggs, too.”
To locate any of these trucks, check their websites, or find links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts:
Twitter – @walnutagogo
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walnut-a-gogo/162956430383382
Twitter – @eatcomida
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/eatcomida
Top of the Hill Grill West:
Twitter – @TasterieTruck
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/TheTasterieTruck
Seb’s Wood-Fired Portable Cuisine
Twitter – @SebsLLC