SouthfieldSeptember 17, 2013
City dabbles in the art of eating on the street
By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer
SOUTHFIELD — The city is welcoming a new activity for residents to take part in, and this one has a tasty kick.
The first Southfield Food Truck Rally will be held 4-9 p.m. Sept. 25 at 20300 Civic Drive, in the City Centre.
Jacques’ Tacos, Mack Shack, The Green Zebra, Frank’s Etc., Treat Dreams, Quis Truck and Smokey Rhodes BBQ will all be rolling in for the event.
Take it from these chefs — there’s just something about eating on the street. And it’s not just for your run-of-the-mill foodie.
“It’s fresh, it’s creative, it’s exciting, and there’s a lot of social connection happening in that line,” Jim Mastrangel, co-owner of Jacques’ Tacos, said.
Jacques’ Tacos is a local, family-owned business that has been serving Mexican cuisine on the streets of metro Detroit communities since 2010.
Locals can find them at events like the DTE Food Truck Rally in Detroit, the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale and the Royal Oak Farmers Market. They are even regulars posted up for lunchtime service at an office building on Northwestern Highway in Southfield while the cafeteria is under construction.
“It’s a whole atmosphere they experience in that parking lot, not just eating — because we do that three times a day. You’re interacting with people around you there, and there’s such and energy, such a fun vibe with the music playing,” he added. “I’ve even had people start dating after meeting in my line.”
The city of Southfield, in partnership with the City Centre Advisory Board, the Southfield Chamber of Commerce and the newly opened Arbor Lofts, planned the event, which will also feature live entertainment and a beer and wine tent. The entertainment lineup includes an eclectic mix of both emerging and established artists, according to organizers.
During the city’s final Eat to the Beat lunchtime concert of the season Sept. 12, Southfield hosted Queen of the Blues Thornetta Davis for the grand finale show and also stepped up the event’s draw by adding in two metro Detroit food trucks: Dale’s Hickory BBQ and Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill.
The gist of the concert series has always been to provide lunchtime entertainment for locals to enjoy while bringing a lunch or buying a lunch at the City Centre Plaza, but Southfield Community Relations Manager Michael Manion said trying food trucks out at an official, city-sponsored event created more buzz onsite and offered fun food fare to those who came out.
Councilman Jeremy Moss, who was in attendance that day, said the event had a full house, and he’s excited to see the momentum it built up for the inaugural Southfield Food Truck Rally.
“If the success of the lunchtime Eat to the Beat is any guide, this evening event will be a hit that I hope we can replicate many times over,” he said. “The Food Truck Rally will add to the excitement that we are building while redefining and redeveloping the City Centre. We have a large daytime population in Southfield that leaves the city to go home after work at 5 p.m.
“We want to show them that while Southfield is a great place to work, it’s also a great place to live and recreate.”
Manion added that the planning team selected some of the best food trucks in the area and a variety of entertainment to hopefully generate the same type of interest other cities have found, but with a Southfield twist.
“Food trucks have become increasingly popular throughout Michigan and the entire country,” he said.
Ferndale is among the communities that has seen success with food truck vendors, both complementing outside festivals and as stand-alone events. The new and now regularly held Motor City Street Eats reports drawing in thousands of people in past events.
Several of the same food trucks, including Green Zebra and Treat Dreams, will be appearing in Southfield’s Food Truck Rally.
Mastrangel said the small, portable kitchen with a specialized menu allows chefs to make what they make well, drawing in crowds eager to sample top-notch cuisine while chatting it up with others in line and learning about the family inside the truck that can be seen rolling through metro Detroit on a regular basis.
“It’s turned the experience of eating food from something you have to do to something you want to do,” Mastrangel said.
The Southfield Food Truck Rally will be held in the parking lot of Arbor Lofts in the City Centre, at the corner of Central Park Boulevard and Civic Center Drive.
For more information, call the Southfield Community Relations department at (248) 796-5130 or visit www.cityofsouthfield.com.