E’ville Bites: Off the Grid comes to Emeryville … Finally!

Published On June 27, 2013 | By Rob Arias | In the Neighborhood, Restaurants

Emeryville foodies rejoice! Wednesday was the “Soft Opening” debut for Off the Grid – Emeryville in what may be considered a Summer Try-out for a (hopefully!) more permanent event. A city with a long history of supporting the food truck “movement” is finally getting its own scheduled event. While our neighbors in Berkeley and Oakland have hosted “OtG” events for some time, one of the original oasis’ for food trucks is finally getting recognized. Off the Grid was formed in 2010 in response to the growing popularity of mobile food to help provide some organization, promotion and resources for the sudden demand.

Off the Grid states its mission as “to create an experience that allows neighbors to connect with friends, and families to reconnect with each other. Off the Grid has worked hard to develop markets that are both located in urban cores of cities, and that utilize spaces that are not easily activated effectively throughout the day. Currently Off the Grid operates 21 weekly markets in the greater bay area, and works with over 150 vendors weekly. Off the Grid believes in promoting win-win opportunities for the small local businesses that we work with, maintaining a fixed cost structure that is well below other standard events rates. At its core, Off the Grid believes in the power of a shared food experience to connect communities, and we work hard to maintain a shared sense of space wherever we serve.”

otg_eville

Emeryville was once a haven for food trucks because of its lax enforcement and easily obtainable permits (A policy that had discouraged them from Oakland & Berkeley until recently). The City’s daytime workforce population of 30,000+ combined with relatively few food options made it a fertile ground for Food Trucks to thrive while providing a vital function. In 2010, a few “Brick & Mortar” establishments took exception to the free rein that the trucks seemed to have and effectively blamed them for poaching their business and having an unfair advantage because of their overhead and service premiums. Mainstays like Jon’s street eats, who would post up along Hollis, objected that he was following the rules and even exempt because he was operating on private property. Proponents for Food Trucks argued that they were “Pushing the Envelope” of quality food and we should let the market dictate where people ate.

The City formed a 13-person task force to review the policies and a compromise was reached that set stricter parameters on how close these trucks could park to existing establishments and limits on how many Food trucks could be present. Shortly after the bitter battle, Jon sold his mobile cart and took a job as a chef at a Napa Restaurant (He’s since returned to the bay Area to open “Marrow” in Oakland’s Uptown District). The food truck scene in Emeryville remained stable, but no longer the prime destination for the burgeoning mobile food scene. The Task Force, as well-intentioned as it might have been, effectively killed Emeryville’s competitive advantage and allowed our neighboring cities to get a foothold in this phenomenon that encourages civic interaction & promotes Community.

Beginning June 26th with a commitment through September (and hopefully longer!), Off the Grid will host 4 trucks along Haven between Park & 40th, adjacent to City Hall. Their “lead-off” line-up included the “Glorious Peasant Food” of StreateryPeruvian Sandwich truck Sanguchon, Mayo & Mustard Gourmet Deli-Style Sandwiches & Little Green Cyclo Vietnamese.


Time: Every Wednesday from 11AM – 2PM
Location: Haven St. (next to City Hall)
This Weeks Tweet:

— OtG Food Markets (@otgsf) September 4, 2013

Follow Off the Grid on Twitter or like their Facebook page for their alternating weekly Line-up

Resources:

Is Emeryville Poised to Kill Its Street-Food Scene?
Emeryville Restaurant Owner Says Food Trucks Are Killing His Business
The Emeryville Tattler: Food Trucks And Juice
EBX: Emeryville’s Pushcart War
Mobile Food Cart Inquiry in Emeryville Bogs Down in Details

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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