Something to Truck About
One local restaurant owner has raised quite a controversy over the location and taxation of food trucks in the Old Market. Michael Henery has filed a suit against the city claiming that food truck owners have cost him customers, and that laws regulating which establishments pay a 2.5% restaurant tax are unconstitutional. Owner of Michaels in the Old Market, Henery is suing the city for not enforcing his interpretation of a parking ordinance, and seeking approximately $100,000 in restaurant taxes his business was subject to under what he refers to as an ‘arbitrary” law. Henery claims that the tax forced him to raise prices and that the ability to charge less for their wares gives food truck owners an unfair advantage over brick and mortar establishments.
Henery is a lonely crusader against the traveling table, however, as most brick and mortar owners have shown a great deal of support for the cooking caravans. In fact, redeveloping The Blackstone District, owners specifically created a design with food truck vendors in mind, hoping to create a welcome place for them to park. An established food truck park on 11th and Nicholas hosts a rotating list of trucks, and several Omaha business parks look forward to the daily arrival of a host of nomadic snack shacks. City ordinance only specifies that trucks follow the same parking regulations as citizen vehicles, including not obstructing traffic, feeding meters, and following time allotments.
This Mobile Mangia Machine Isn’t Going Away…
With over 50 food trucks currently owning permits in Omaha, a number three times greater than in 2010, this new tradition has a great deal of traction. These trucks are going places, and with the elevation in creativity and quality, I’m excited to go along with them. Many trucks are sourcing local and organic ingredients. Reimagining standards, like Peanut Butter Johnny’s, brings freshness to nostalgia. Fauxmaha makes vegan fun with their clever plant-based hot dogs, while Scotty’s Go-Go Grill elevates the humble dog and fries by bacon wrapping a frank before serving it with a sweet pepper relish and duck fat garlic parmesan frites. Many restaurant owners welcome the challenge to step up their game, and the result is a fun competition for our attention. And when a fleet of amazing chefs compete, diners win.
United We Roll
Chicago Dawg House owner Kelly Keegan has assembled The Omaha Food Truck Association, a crack team of mobile entrée-preneurs, to unite as one voice in the community helping to create legislature to protect the mobile meal houses. Most of the vendors have expressed that the city and citizens have been very helpful and open to aiding in the creation of an inclusive environment, and they are willing to do the legwork to get it done right.
This summer, a handful of festivals look forward to welcoming the mobile menus.
Taste of Omaha hosts dozens of tents and stands from Omaha food vendors, and like take-your-daughter-to-work day, the trucks line up beside the established restaurants hoping to be noticed.
100 Riverfront Drive
June 3, 4, and 5
Omaha Beer Fest is ready to supply your post-suds sustenance. Mobile vendors will be on hand all day from Battle of the Beards to Beer Academy.
Stinson Park at Aksarben Village
67th and Center Streets
Friday June 10 5-9 PM
Saturday June 11 1-5 PM (12 noon early entry for VIPs)
That same weekend, the tandem events of the annual Santa Lucia Festival and The Summer Arts Festival will take place downtown. The Lewis and Clark Landing hosts Santa Lucia, which will feature a scattering of trucks and vendors, while The Gene Leahy Mall will welcome the 42nd annual Summer Arts Festival. A food truck court will be held at the corner of 11th and Farnam near the Children’s Fair.
June 9, 10, 11, and 12
Summer Arts Festival
June 11 and 12
Cabela’s hosted a Food Truck Rally at the end of May, and Junktoberfest in Bellevue bragged about a Food Truck Food Court in the old Southroads building parking lot.
In October, Benson will host the 1st Annual Omaha Food Truck Rodeo. The cast of culinary characters has not yet been finalized, but you can keep track and get excited by joining the event site on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1716292425275792/
First Annual Omaha Food Truck Rodeo
October 7 beginning at 4pm
6121 Military Ave in Benson
In addition to these exciting events, area business associations have arranged regular food truck visits for their patrons and passers-by.
Beginning July 7th and ending in September, the association will host Food Truck Thursdays on the Gene Leahy Mall with a rotating vendor list.
Papillion hosts Food Truck Fridays featuring a different truck every week. The Twisted Vine serves as grub hub for the weekly wares.
The Twisted Vine hosts Food Truck Fridays
123 Washington in Downtown Papillion
The Blackstone District is known for being welcoming of new restaurants and foodventures, and the Blackstone Bazaar on June 4th, as well as their food truck brunch events are only further evidence of their hospitality. The last Sunday of every month, Blackstone hosts a Food Truck Brunch. Parking on 40th and Farnam, the vendors will accept 10% off coupons, which are available at most Blackstone business the day of the event. To stay up to date on vendors, follow The Blackstone District on Facebook.
Sunday Brunch at Blackstone
The last Sunday of every month
40th and Farnam
Keeping tabs on the location of your favorite food truck is a daunting task, darn those wheels! Always check the website, Twitter, or Facebook of your favorite vittles vendor before hitting the road, or just head out and see what grabs you!
Maria Bonita is an offshoot of the Mexican brick and mortar on 51 and L, while Anthony Piccolo’s Mobile Venue is the grandchild of the recently closed and decades-beloved Piccolo family restaurant. La Casa Pizzaria has taken tradition to the streets, and Johnny Ricco’s Brooklyn Pizza brings Williamsburg to the yard. A Taste of New Orleans caters Cajun to your car, while Island Seasons Mobile kitchen runs a Caribbean Caravan. Mosaic Pickle strives to represent as much culture as they can from the back of a van, serving Asian, BBQ, Mexican, and Soul.
LocalMotive sources from area farms, elevating street food to heart-and-soul healthy status. The truck keeps 2 standard locations with opposite hours (one afternoons, the other as late as 3am) and pops up wherever hungry people need good food.
The food truck game is strong in Omaha, and with area chefs flexing some serious street smarts, the future of mobile mangia is muey caliente!