Jax Truckies: Bringing Food Trucks to the PeopleNovember 10, 2013 6 comments Print Article
Heather Bailey of OutsideTheDen.com interviews Mike Field & Caron Streibich on Jacksonville's Food Truck scene.
Heather: I’m so excited to wrap up our Food Truck Week with an interview with two of my favorite people. Mike Field and Caron Streibich are a powerhouse couple who spend the majority of their free time creating change in Jacksonville.They don’t just talk about things that need to be done to improve this city, they make it happen. They are both involved in a plethora of organizations and activities in town, but this interview focuses on what they are most well known for, Jax Truckies. With daily updates on food truck locations (which help dictate our lunch plans a few times a week), hosting events and championships, and getting involved in laws surrounding food trucks; Jax Truckies is a culinary resource that is fantastic for the community.
Caron and Mike at a Food Truck Rally at Bold City- courtesy of Jax Truckies
What inspired you to create Jax Truckies?
Mike: Through Metrojacksonville.com, people like myself, Ennis Davis, Daniel Herbin and Stephen Dare had already started experimenting with tactical urbanism projects aimed at revitalizing some of our urban areas. Over 50 percent of our downtown is ‘dead space’- places like surface parking lots, parking garages with no ground level retail and empty lots that just kill street level vibrancy. We saw food trucks as an efficient and inexpensive way to fill gaps within our urban fabric that would ultimately enhance walkability downtown.
In countless peer communities, food trucks have been proven to increase foot traffic in urban areas.
Downtown needs to be a unique, walkable neighborhood and not just another vertical suburb. It was clear that there was a positive role for food trucks in our community. I reached out to Drew and Curt Cavins, owners of O’Brothers and Mossfire Grill in Riverside, about their experience running Jacksonville’s first food truck-Buss’n Your Chops. They were actually in the process of selling their truck because of the unbearable harassment and crippling fines levied upon them from the City of Jacksonville, just for having the audacity to exist. Hearing that really upset me. Our community should be encouraging entrepreneurship, innovation and self-sufficiency, not stifling it.
Tactical urbanism is defined by highly scalable demonstration events, so we thought that a unique way to introduce Jacksonville to the food truck culture would be to hold a ‘food truck championship’ styled competition to celebrate the handful of vendors that did exist in Jax at the time. It just so happened that a friend of ours, Stacey Steiner was also toying with the same idea. Stacey is a social media marketing professional who was able to scale a social media presence for us rather rapidly. Between Caron’s work and connections as a food columnist at Folio, Stacey’s expertise in public relations and our broad reach through Metrojacksonville.com, we were able to quickly put together a dynamic team that hit the ground running.
Jax Truckies / OutsideTheDen.comThe amazing crowd at the 2013 Food Truck Championship
What is one thing people don’t realize about food trucks?
Mike: Certainly the quality of the food that some of these chefs are putting out is pretty amazing. The culinary backgrounds from the entrepreneurs working inside these trucks can be pretty impressive. There are food truck operators in town that have worked in the kitchens of high quality restaurants like The Cloister in Sea Island, Aqua Grill, Taverna and Commanders Palace in New Orleans. Even the executive chef team from the Ritz-Carlton Ameila Island has a food truck now that they use for special events. Think about shoving your backyard propane grill into the back of a mini-van and trying to cook food for 100 people. That’s pretty challenging in and of itself, but to also make really good food under those same circumstances is downright amazing. Ask anyone that has gone from owning a food truck to owning a large restaurant, and they’ll tell you how much easier life is outside of the truck.