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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sunland-Tujunga Launches Food Truck Fest; Spurs Local Debate; Area Restauranteur Comes Out Swinging in Defense of the Event

Joselito's Mexican Food
Recently, the issue of food trucks, one that often stirs strong emotions on both sides of the fence in the City of Angels, has made it's most recent venue that of the idyllic foothill community of Sunland-Tujunga.

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.

Best Regards,
Jose R. Grijalva
Joselito's Mexican Food

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Screw those stupid nimby's! This is a free market and a truck can go where it pleases! So what if they suck the money out of the community and hurt local business? We want our food and the mom & pop's can be damned as well as the chains! Next time a little league team goes to a Mom & Pop restaurant to ask for money to buy uniforms, just tell the little punks to kiss off!

July 25, 2012 6:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Good for you Jose. You have a great resturant and a great attitude!! My family and I enjoy the variety the lunch trucks bring, and still visit local businesses. If you are putting out a good product, people will come. If they don't maybe you need to realize why!!!! Sincerely, a fellow foodie

July 25, 2012 6:58 PM  

Blogger Meghan Jenks said:

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 25, 2012 7:05 PM  

Anonymous Robin Meares said:

-Many of those who have been outspoken against the Food Trucks , including myself, have repeatedly mentioned the once a month Food Truck event as a good compromise."
-Even you stated that once a month would be better
-Not one person opposed to weekly Food Trucks has ever threaten to not frequent a local restaurant.
-However, a local business opposed to weekly food trucks was threatened with ruination by the President of the Sunland Tujunga Chamber of Commerce with whom you are pictured. In addition there have been various posts on Facebook by numerous people telling local restaruants that they are being boycotted because of their opposition to weekly Food Trucks.
-I am glad your business is thriving and I sure hope it continues to thrive. You are to be commended for making "lemonade" or should I say lemon gelato out of this situation. :-) -I wish this for all our businesses, but it has not happened for many of them.
-There needs to be a compromise.
-Once a month Food Trucks, as you mentioned, is that compromise. The Neighborhood can continue to meet and greet and get to hang out, and eat Food Truck food. Those businesses who chose to, can participate. For the other businesses, who can not participate, this compromise a fair solution.

July 25, 2012 9:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


July 25, 2012 9:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Robin Meares you continue to make this ridiculous claim of retribution by the chamber. Give us proof! What are they going to do? Come by and say neener neener?

July 25, 2012 10:09 PM  

Anonymous I love S-T said:

it's a fun event. Let's all enjoy it AND frequent local business.
I think 2x a month is even good.


July 25, 2012 10:50 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Your town craks me up! LOL One person pointed out that this is a free market and they can go where they want...haha You all got rid of that Home Depot, so what does that have to say to free markets up there in Sunland?

July 25, 2012 11:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Higby figured out how to get some clickety clicks! Is Mayor Sam back?

July 25, 2012 11:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

That last guy must be from Studio City. Looking for a parking spot.

July 25, 2012 11:53 PM  

Blogger Robin M. said:

10:09PM There is a phone message from the Chamber President to a location business threatening her with ruination for opposing the Food Trucks. I heard it as did over 2 dozen local businesses.

Why are you asking me what she will do to ruin this local business? Shouldn't that question be directed to the person who made the threat?

July 26, 2012 12:33 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Robin M, if that is your real name, why don't you send the voice mail message to Higby or Joseph Malander and ask them to post it! If a Chamber of Commerce President called and threatened businesses that would be big news! We don't need to ask him what he has done - you are leveling what is a very serious allegation against him.

WHat you are saying lady, if not true, is actionable. The Chamber President could sue you for slander. So play the tape.

July 26, 2012 7:10 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

7:10AM Yes that is her real name. She won't play the tape of Sonia the Chamber President or show the pictures or video she has. She flip flops on issues all the time. The main people causing the issues in town are of course Sonia, Tomi Bowling, and Cindy Cleghorn. It's the usual bunch 7:10 that do stuff to our town.

July 26, 2012 12:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why does she flip flop? Is the chamber president going to sue? Maybe Higby could interview him.

July 26, 2012 1:30 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

Interview who and what law suit?

July 26, 2012 1:35 PM  

Blogger g said:

you all must be hungry and obese to get this worked up over this. the food trucks are a business but they should have places where they can run and not in front of store front busineses at least not every day. their are limits in this city. but i do like them just not to the point of hurting established storefront busineses.

July 26, 2012 3:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

robin meares is always trying to stir up BS. this is her only entertainment in life. ignore her and she will fly away on her broom.

July 27, 2012 12:52 AM  

Anonymous Broom Hilda said:

Anonymous at 12:52 am at least she has the courage to show her true name. Granted she may ride a broom its true sometimes we all do.... but I can guarantee you her broom will always be better then yours. And if BS was her only entertainment in life why are you the one up commenting at 12:52 am just saying......

July 27, 2012 10:31 AM  

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