It’s been all over the news in the last week, the City of Minneapolis pushed for food trucks to drive into the space around the Metrodome (no, I will not call it by its other ridiculous name much like I won’t call the Gopher Stadium anything else either) and give a reason for people to come downtown before the game. However there are questions, including from restaurants worried they’ll lose business, about how this is all going to shake out.
From the MinnPost article:
Tailgating — rebranded as “railgating” along a “Purple Path” — will be allowed at parking meters and in some parking lots, with at least 16 food trucks open for business along the light rail tracks and Fifth Street. The “path” runs from the Warehouse District to the Dome.
The food trucks will be open for business from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. along the Fifth Street light rail tracks between Fifth and Portland avenues. Some are planning new breakfast menus for those who arrive early. Food truck owners will be paying for portable potties and the cleanup afterward.
“People who ride the rails should have as much fun as people who drive a car,” said Rybak, who pointed out that there will soon be two light rail lines coming into downtown Minneapolis. “Railgaters, you belong, too, and we’re giving you a whole new experience.”
The mayor said those involved will be paying close attention to the impact of 16 food trucks on food sales at the Dome and in downtown restaurants and bars. The idea is to bring more people downtown and increase sales for everyone.
I had a two year love affair with food trucks in downtown Minneapolis when I worked there. The variety, flavors and price were spot on and really gave the other far less attractive options in the area a serious run for my money. In the last 8 months or so I’ve been working SOTR and haven’t had an opportunity to sample any of my beloved trucks. While a few are available on weekends or after hours, their locations and times aren’t convenient for me and without several to choose from I just haven’t been all that interested in seeking them out.
What ‘railgating’ does for me is it gives me a reason to take The Rooster and The Koala out on Sunday morning and ride the train downtown and sample some of those foods I’ve been missing–say for instance, the ‘Lefty Roll’ at SushiFix (if they are one of the trucks available). While I have absolutely no intention of visiting any of the other restaurants in the immediate area or even attending the game, choosing to get there early and leave by 10:30 so I can catch the game on TV instead, MetroTransit is going to get a few of my dollars and the food trucks are going to get several more. This is a huge win for the game day atmosphere as well as a bonus for the local economy. Have a few of the trucks throw some cornhole courts on the sidewalks for people to kill time while they wait and I might just live there every Sunday.
I should be hitting up another game yet this season and I can tell you that I will be spending a lot more money downtown with this option available. I don’t understand why restaurants believe it will somehow negatively impact their business. People are either going to wait to eat in the stadium (or around it) prior to and during the game or they’re not going to eat at all. As someone who has been to several Vikings games, I can honestly say I have never felt the urge to eat at any of the surrounding bar/restaurants and food trucks aren’t going to change that.
Are you going to hit up the food trucks while they’re around the Metrodome for ‘railgating’ as an attraction regardless of whether you’re attending the game? Do you think the food trucks will take away business from nearby restaurants or do you think no one really eats there before/during games anyway? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.