On December 3, a convoy of eight of San Francisco’s best gourmet food trucks including Chairman Bao, JapaCurry, Hapa SF, El Porteno, An the Go, Seoul on Wheels and Bacon Bacon converged on the third Sacramento Mobile Food Festival, and one of them received the highest honor of the day, the title of Best Food Truck by a popular vote. Joining them, the top local Sacramento favorites, including Mini Burger, Chando Taco’s, Wicked ‘Wich, Heavenly Dog’s, Simply Southern Foods / It’s Corn Cake, Cajun Wagon, La Peidad, Volkswaffle, Smoothie Patrol, Fuzion Eatz, LLC, Swabbies, Leila’s Lumpia, Esther’s Cupcakes and Food Network’s Great Truck Race contender, Drewski’s, making the event the largest and most diverse mobile food festival in Northern California. More than 23 food trucks and stands served and 2000 people attended the event, sponsored, in part by Stitches ‘n Dishes.
Named “SactoMoFo3,” this was actually the second event organized by a small group of Sacramento residents, calling themselves “SactoMoFo” (Sacramento Mobile Foods). The first event was held at Fremont Park, a 2.35 acre parcel in downtown Sacramento in April, 2011. Approximately 14 trucks parked on the perimeter of the small downtown patch of grass, and served an estimated 3000 to 5000 attendees (based on video footage and photos, the size of the park, and the lack of any evidence of foot traffic following the event), though attendance was reported as 10,000 in the media. Though, there is no way to accurately calculate the number of attendees, in any case. The official second Sacramento Mobile Food Festival was held at the State Capitol at the Mexican Independence Day celebration on September 16 this year.
“The crowd was enthusiastic, and everyone was supportive; they were all enjoying a lot of food and patronizing just about every truck out there,” said Jim Angelus of San Francisco, owner of Bacon Bacon. When you have events like this, or Off the Grid in San Francisco, they bring neighborhoods together. I love that part of the food truck. I love being a part of my neighborhood, and I love my business. But to me it’s more than just putting out some food.”
Jim “brought home the bacon” in our poll at the event, taking home the “Best Food Truck” title with nearly 20% of the votes. About 35% of the attendees participated in the Stitches ‘n Dishes poll as part of our Nintendo Wii Console bundle package drawing and giveaway, voting for 16 of the 23 food vendors. We asked, “Which was your favorite food truck of the day?” it’s clear that Bacon Bacon was, by far the day’s top choice. We’ll present Jim with the Best Food Truck award in the coming week. Look for our photos and write-up.
“I couldn’t believe we were voted Best Food Truck. It’s an honor,” said Jim. “We went up to Sacramento with a limited menu, and our tacos sold out quickly. We brought 250 pounds of bacon, but at one point, we took ‘The Bouquet’ (one of the truck’s popular all-bacon sandwiches) off the menu because we were worried we’d run out of bacon, but we opted to put it back on the menu later when customers continued asking for it.”
Launched in July, 2011, Bacon Bacon was listed in the top ten food trucks in San Francisco by the Chase Sapphire Visa Signature Eater’s Choice Awards in October and continues to take Northern California by storm. Jim brought his Bacon Bacon truck to Sacramento on the word of trusted friends, owners of the Chairman Bao Bun and Seoul on Wheels trucks of San Francisco who also served at the event.
Chairman Bao Bun truck took second place in the Stitches ‘n Dishes poll, and Sacramento’s Mini Burger truck finished in third place.
Jim was general manager at two fine restaurants prior to launching his Bacon Bacon truck. While managing a restaurant in San Francisco’s Union Square, he came to know Julia Yoon, owner of Seoul on Wheels, and the two partnered together to create a unique experience for their customers. Julia would park her Seoul on Wheels truck in front of Jim’s restaurant to cross promote the businesses, much like the model that Chris Jarosz, owner of Sacramento’s Wicked ‘Wich organizes with restaurant owners in Sacramento.
“I’m a restaurant guy and the hours were nuts. I wanted to stay in the business, but spend time with my family. My first decision was starting a food truck. A friend started one in Portland, and I spent time with him talking about a few ideas,” he said. “Bacon Bacon was one of the ideas, and the one I focused most on. There are a lot of great cross-cultural food trucks which I love, but when I conducted a few of my own focus groups, I found that people aren’t always so adventurous. I saw an opening for an American comfort food truck. Everybody loves bacon – then, I just said it, bacon bacon. It just came out. We use great products, local meats and produce. I buy quality ingredients, because that’s important to me too. I heard about trucks in Portland calling other trucks “can openers” because they use cans; Bacon Bacon isn’t a can opener.”
“The Pork Belly Sandwich, Triple B and the burgers are the most popular. The Triple B and the burger are my recipes, so I’m pretty proud of that. The Pork Belly Sandwich was developed by my friend Rick in Portland. He was really generous and he’s a great friend,” he said.
Next week, Jim will begin serving breakfast from his recently acquired San Francisco kitchen, where he’ll perform most of his daily prep work, as well. “My dream about having another Bacon Baon truck sometime next year is a possibility,” he said. “I’ve been approached about franchising, but there’s a beauty to owning a small business where you can see it and feel it. I’d be really happy with a couple of trucks in the bay area and my kitchen in San Francisco. I’m ready to grow this in a controlled and patient way.”
In the meantime, San Francisco’s food truck policies are being challenged by a few local restaurateurs who suggest that the trucks hold an unfair advantage over brick and mortar establishments. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that some restaurant owners have asked the City to review the current policy, and consider some changes. They propose that the food trucks not be allowed to conduct business in any areas where restaurants are doing business. Currently, City ordinances require that food trucks notify, in writing the businesses and residents within 300 feet from any street location they intend to serve from prior to opening their windows.
“I ran two busy restaurants in union square. I understand their concerns,” Jim said. In comparison, Sacramento’s ordinances restrict food truck operators to a 30-minute parking limit within the City, effectively preventing them from operating on city streets.
“I don’t know all of the details about Sacramento’s ordinances, but it may have been ideal model in 1982 when people showed up at the curb with prepared food, but it doesn’t work for today’s trucks. A half an hour is so unrealistic. We arrive at a location 30 minutes before we begin serving typically. It’s not practical or safe to attempt to prepare then serve in 30 minutes – it’s just unrealistic,” Jim added.
Jim plans to continue bringing his Bacon Bacon truck to the masses, serving up gourmet American comfort foods at events and businesses, and is a regular at Matt Cohen’s Off the Grid in San Francisco and the Youtube offices in San Mateo, CA where he considers his greatest strength to be his ability to create an atmosphere for his guests. “I’m not the chef … my strengths are being on the floor and talking to the guests,” he said. “I thought I’d lose that in a food truck but I found I get more of it now. I hated being in the office so much in a restaurant. Now I can mingle with customers at least twice when they dine at my truck. I can talk to them when they order and again after they’ve eaten. So, I’m still in the restaurant business, just the mobile food business, now.”
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