Late night hunger left unsatisfied

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In April 2014, the City of Boston launched a late night food truck pilot program as a companion to Mayor Marty Walsh’s initiative to keep bars and restaurants open until 3:30am. Under the pilot program, registered food trucks initially had permission to park and serve food until midnight in three locations: the Boston Public Library, Boston University East, and Northeastern University. The number of locations has since grown. But the evening food trucks are nowhere to be found.

Despite the scarcity of evening trucks, Allison Rogers, the interim director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives, said that the City remains “excited by the success of the City’s food truck program.”

Food truck operators, on the other hand, have a different perspective. Damien Yee, the manager of the Chicken & Rice truck, which was licensed to participate in the program in Dewey Square, pointed to the City’s placement of food trucks, limited hours, and insufficient advertising as reasons why he decided to opt out of the evening program.

“It didn’t work out,” said Yee. “No one knew about it even though we posted on Facebook and Twitter.”

Operators of the Mediterranean Food truck blamed the low volume of customers as the reason why they opted out.

“It’s a hard business,” said Vera Pranvera, the truck’s owner. “You cook food and if you don’t sell it you have to throw it away the next day.”

Sam Williams, co-owner of the participating Bacon Truck, called the pilot program a “complete failure.” Positioned at the Northeastern University spot one night a week at 11:00pm, he made no profit.

“College students would rather spend $19 dollars on a handle of vodka than on food trucks,” said Williams.

Williams also lamented poor communication between food truck operators and the City. Due to the diverse backgrounds and ethnicities of the food truck operators, it proved difficult to speak with one voice to convey their concerns. According to Williams, the concept was good, but there were simply “too many hurdles to jump over.”

Contact Beth Treffeisen at [email protected]