Food Trucks Occupy DC Public Library

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Food Trucks Occupy DC Public Library

Something really exciting has been happening in D.C. over the last few years.  There’s been an explosion of food trucks in the downtown area.  D.C. is in the process of changing its laws and making it easier for these small businesses to operate throughout the city.  Gone are the days when a half-smoke hot dog was your only option.  On any given weekday a quick walk by the intersection of G and 12th streets NW will reveal at least six food trucks offering choices ranging from Indian, Ethiopian, lobster rolls, pizza, kabobs, crab cakes, Korean tacos and barbecue to name just a few.

Starting this Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 (and for the next few weeks), a number of food trucks will be parked outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library starting at 11:30 a.m. as part of a new series titled “Books and Bites.” Special seating will be provided. Update -- May 7, 2013: Books and Bites returns to MLK, starting Wednesday, May 8 at 11:30 a.m.

TastyKabobIt seems like every day a new food truck appears on the scene.  With the “recent” economic downturn, starting a food truck endeavor has proven to be a fun, creative and “relatively” low-cost way to make a livelihood while at the same time adding a tasty splash to downtown D.C.  Many of the food truck vendors echo each other in saying that one of the greatest rewards of running their business is seeing how it builds community among downtown office workers.  There is strength in numbers, and the majority of food trucks have banded together to form The DC Food Truck Association. According to the association’s website, it is “a collaborative group of food truck owner-operators who seek to elevate and sustain the well being of food trucks, foster a sense of community and work in partnership with the District to revise food truck regulations.” Visit the website, and check out the list of member food trucks. Most, if not all, of the food trucks make use of social networking media (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) to alert customers where and when they’ll be serving up their goods on a given day.  

FoodTrucksShouseInterested in reading about some of these food trucks and maybe trying to recreate a signature dish at home? Author/journalist/blogger Heather Shouse spent a year traveling throughout the United States researching her book Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels. Part travelogue, part cookbook, Food Trucks is divided by geographic regions highlighting various street vendors from each area. Shouse, to our benefit, includes a recipe or two from each profiled vendor.

D.C. gets a nod with profiles of three food trucks, most notably the Fojol Bros. of Merlindia, a rather wacky ensemble started by four men who dress in turbans, colorful jumpsuits and waxed mustaches and who serve delicious Indian food.  They have also started two other food trucks specializing in Ethiopian food (Benethiopia) and Thai food (Volathai).  

TruckFoodCookbookAnother recent addition to the library’s collection of cookbooks is from the James Beard Award-winning New York Time’ columnist John T. Edge. His The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels explores the truckavore movement with techniques, trends and some incredible recipes. Unlike Shouse’s book, Edge's book is organized by food type instead of region. D.C.’s Curbside Cupcakes gets a shout-out in the chapter titled “Rolling in Sweets.” This cupcake truck will be at the library this Wednesday.

StartYourOwnFoodTruckBusinessThinking about what it takes to start up your own food truck business?  Look no further than Entrepreneur Press and Rich Mintzer’s Start Your Own Food Truck Business part of the Entrepeneur Press’s Startup Series (a super great series, by the way).  This small but information-packed tome goes over all the “nuts and bolts” of what it takes to start a mobile food business from menu planning and funding to licensing and marketing.

In the meantime, come on out to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library this Wednesday and enjoy some great food, free Wi-Fi and the library’s other great services.

 --by S. McDermott