Food trucks create brand-new dining experience outside Taylorsville City Hall on Saturday nights
Jun 15, 2018 11:24AM
By Carl Fauver
With city hall in the background, the Kona Ice food truck cools of Taylorsville customers. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
A chance meeting between a young entrepreneur and a member of the Taylorsville Planning Commission has resulted in one of the most exciting culinary experiences the city has ever offered its residents.
The Food Truck League era dawned on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend outside city hall, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down, as the weekly events continue through the summer and into fall.
“A few months ago, I attended an economic development luncheon sponsored by Bank of Utah and went looking for people to network with,” Taylorsville Planning Commissioner Anna Barbieri said. “So, I just randomly sat by a stranger for lunch. He turned out to be Taylor Harris, who owns and operates the Food Truck League.”
“It was purely a coincidence, Anna joining me at the luncheon,” Harris said. “I told her about how our food trucks go to many different locations along the Wasatch Front — as a group, normally once a week — allowing families to come out to dine, with everyone getting to choose what they want. It’s kind of a shopping mall food court, outdoors. She seemed to like the idea, and the next thing I knew, we were adding weekly league stops in Taylorsville.”
Barberi said the city bounced the idea around but never got far. She said it was when Taylor explained how “it could be done with very little cost or risk to the city, so I decided to run the idea past Curt Cochran, and he loved it as much as I did.”
Cochran is the newest member of the Taylorsville City Council, elected by the other council members in January to fill the seat left vacant when Kristie Overson moved from that position to mayor.
“This is really setting a new precedent for the city, and I’m thrilled about the little bit I did to help move the idea along,” Cochran said. “It’s funny how it all began as a chance meeting (between Barbieri and Harris) and just mushroomed from there. I think Taylorsville residents will love it.”
The ironic thing is, Harris — a graduate of Centerville’s Viewmont High School and of Utah State University — is the creator of the food truck league but has never operated a food truck himself.
“After earning my MBA, I was working in investments as an economic analyst,” he said. “But it wasn’t all that exciting and then a friend of mine, in the San Francisco area, explain how he became involved in a similar food truck league there. I liked the concept. So three years ago — about the same time my wife learned she was pregnant with our first child — I left the security of a steady job and launched our league.”
Harris said he originally signed up 20 to 30 different food truck companies to participate. Now it is up to about 150.
The league does not charge cities any money to participate, but city officials are required to provide a venue for the trucks to park. Harris then publicizes the league schedule through a variety of social media platforms. The truck operators then pay the league a percentage of the money they earn at each individual event.
Although you might think Saturday night could be the best night of the week for such an event, Harris said the Taylorsville City Hall booking marks the first time he has had a recurring league stop on that night.
“I think Taylorsville leaders are very smart in the way they’re setting this up,” Harris added. “I know some of those Saturday nights will also include outdoor movies (July 14, July 28 and Aug. 11).”
About the only expense the city will have are the costs for portable toilet rentals. City officials will also consider providing picnic tables and chairs if demand warrants. For now, food truck patrons are encouraged to bring a blanket to lay on the grass where the new performing arts center will stand in a little more than two years.
Looking down the road, Harris has also acquired a location in South Jordan to establish Utah’s first indoor/outdoor food park.
“We are looking at putting in a building where people can eat their food truck meals in the winter months,” he said.
The Taylorsville Food Truck League night is expected to feature eight to 12 trucks, from 4 to 9 p.m. each Saturday evening into mid-October as weather permits.
“Our truck vendors serve everything from octopus to pizza shaped like an ice cream cone,” Harris concluded. “We have 150 participating vendors, with another 70 on a waiting list. So, one thing I can guarantee is everyone’s favorite food will be there at one time or another this summer.”
As she walked with her daughter Ivy on food truck league opening night — each enjoying their food, from separate trucks —Barbieri said (between bites), “There’s great accessibility—plenty of parking. I think we have a hit.”