Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Business

Food truck rally is Jan. 14 at Riverview's Winthrop Town Centre

RIVERVIEW — The tastiest trend of the Tampa Bay area pulls up to east Hillsborough next week: A food truck rally will gather dozens of vendors in one spot for an afternoon of noshing.

It's the seventh local food truck rally since the events began in September. Following successes in Tampa and St. Petersburg, the Jan. 14 rally will park in Riverview's Winthrop Town Centre.

Organizers say this food truck rally is expected to draw between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

"I think it'll just add flair," said Bryant Martinez, 38, the Winthrop town artist who helped bring the event to Riverview. "The food truck rally is something really fun, very creative and very exciting for the community."

The rally extends a movement that has flourished in more urban locales to Tampa's bedroom communities.

"I have a feeling that this area is ready for it," said Glenn Nagle, owner of Fat Tortillas food truck and a Riverview resident.

Nagle said few trucks are based out of east Hillsborough and few venture to sites in the area. For Tampa or St. Petersburg trucks, it takes extra planning and time to travel farther.

But Nagle said he hopes the rally will introduce more residents to the concept of food trucks, and in turn encourage food truck operators to head east.

With the fast, casual and family-oriented atmosphere of Brandon area dining, Nagle said food trucks fit that niche while also offering a diverse array of gourmet nibbles.

Over the last year, the food truck movement has exploded throughout the region, with dozens of mobile vendors seeking to sell specialty or eccentric dishes from the side of the road. Many move to different locations throughout the week to serve lunch or dinner, challenging patrons to track them through social media.

And it has worked: Food trucks open their doors individually but also fight to be included in bigger events, such as rallies and the Tampa mayor's monthly downtown Food Truck Fiesta.

Most rallies feature about 20 restaurants-on-wheels, said Todd Sturtz, who shepherds the food truck rallies and writes a local food blog called Tasting Tampa. He said he often has to pare down the list from as many as 50 interested vendors.

That's a boon for hungry Floridians. With a wealth of options, each rally sees a different assortment of food trucks.

"You can try something fun and fresh, and it keeps it from getting stale," Sturtz said.

This year, weekly neighborhood food truck rallies may reach farther north into Pasco County and farther south into Bradenton.

"We want everyone in the bay area to get an opportunity to go without traveling," Sturtz said.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.

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