Sunland-Tujunga Launches Food Truck Fest; Spurs Local Debate; Area Restauranteur Comes Out Swinging in Defense of the Event
|Joselito's Mexican Food|
About a month ago, leaders from the local chamber of commerce organized and launched a weekly Wednesday night food truck fest that from all appearances seems to have taken off like wildfire. The number of trucks participating has quickly doubled and participant estimates are nearing 5000 diners or more.
Despite the popularity with the local rank and file, a portion of the business community and other activists have had a near visceral reaction to the event, sparking weeks of wars on local Facebook pages. Newly re-assigned City Councilman Richard Alarcon, at a "meet and greet" even held on Tuesday evening has pledged to review the issue as it is Alarcon's fear the food trucks are "dividing the community." A more reasoned position may be that the food trucks are dividing the Facebook community, but we digress...
The rancor has grown to such a fever pitch that local restraunteur, Jose Grijalva, owner of Joselito's West Mexican Restaurant (you may remember that Joselito's was the site of the now legendary "Margarita Summit" that turned this blogger around on the issue of the now defunct Home Depot in Sunland) has taken to issuing an open letter stating his support for the food truck event. No matter what, it is sure to spur further discussion locally and illuminates the thoughts many have on the whole issue of the rolling eataries. We reprint Mr. Grijalava's letter below:
To Whom it may concern,
When I first heard about this Wednesday night event I was not too thrilled. Rather than waste my time and energy complaining I decided to print flyers and make the most of the hundreds and hundreds of people gathered in our town. I expressed my concern to the chamber and told them that I would wait to see exactly how my business was affected before making my opinion heard. It has been good and I thank Tomi, Sonia, Jana, Phil and the countless others that are trying to bring awareness to our neighborhood and create an atmosphere of community and family togetherness. I find it unfortunate that all of their hard work to change the perception of Sunland-Tujunga is not being embraced by all. Even though I feel that we would be better served by a once a month event. In my opinion, the Wednesday Food truck night is a wonderful addition to our community. Since the beginning I decided to make the most of what was planned. I took a piece of my restaurant, my new Gelato, and shared it with the community and those new to our area. I was not selling Gelato outside to make a lot of money. If anything, I barely broke even most weeks. The gelato cart is not going to make me rich. It is a fun little side project that got me outside and allows me to be creative and interact with my neighbors, friends and my customers. I love the whole "gourmet food truck" scene and enjoy being a part of it.
That being said, the first week of the food trucks I was not selling gelato. I simply sent somebody down with catering menus to pass out. I booked a party of 50 that night. Since the truck night began my Wednesday night business has stayed consistent with previous years but my overall business for the rest of the week has increased. I have booked at least three additional parties from the flyers I hand out on Wednesday nights. If your business has been negatively affected because of the food trucks I feel for you and I am sorry. I know things are difficult now. Things can only get better if people from La Crescenta, Burbank and Shadow Hills see that they have a choice as to where they spend their money. If I get one customer a week that comes in for the first time, I'm growing my business.
If you think the Wednesday night event is bad for our community, putting the businesses aside, you obviously have not been out to the event. Every Wednesday I see families eating together and enjoying the outdoors. I see children laughing and happy (remember how exciting eating from a truck was when you were young?). I meet people that have just moved here and are happy to learn about my business. If you have been there and you haven't seen these things it's because you don't want to. Open your eyes, this is a good thing. I met a lady last night who has lived in Shadow Hills for a year and had never been to Sunland for anything. It is so sad to me that some people can not just live and let live. It's sad that people have to be negative about something that so many people enjoy. If you don't want the food trucks, stay home on Wednesday night. It's not very hard to support your local businesses and have an awesome taco at a food truck. I have always been proud to be part of ST. From day one I hope i have shown that with the way I do business and the way I maintain my property. All this bickering and arguing has made me embarrassed to be a part of this town.
Nothing I have written is directed at any one person. If what I have written offends you, please don't tell me how you will no longer frequent my business, I don't care. I will continue to succeed and be MUCH happier without your negative energy anywhere around me.
Jose R. Grijalva
Joselito's Mexican Food