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Giving Food Trucks Another Look

ATE3ONE, STARTED BY LONGTIME CHEF KASIA MASLANKA SMITH, SERVES UP HOT MEALS AT A FOOD TRUCK EVENT IN SCOTTS VALLEY. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER BY   Kasia Maslanka Smith, who owns the food truck Ate3One with her husband Jonathan, says she’s sensitive about sharing space with brick-and-mortar restaurants. She would rather see the regulations relaxed for public areas where there are no other food options. “I’m not going to go to downtown Santa Cruz because Hula’s [Island Grill], for example, can’t pack up their restaurant and go on the road. I wouldn’t do that, unless it was a private event,” says Smith. A chef for more than 10 years, Smith opened Ate3One in 2014 after working with food trucks in San Jose. She recently purchased a second truck and sees lots of room for growth for food trucks in Santa Cruz. However, reaching the customer base is crucial, crediting Kates and her events for the opportunity to develop a following. Both Smith and Watson say that although opening a food truck is expensive, it doesn’t even approach the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the area. Mobile vending is a much more affordable way for entrepreneurs, especially young people, to enter the industry and become business owners. “The amount [of food trucks] we have is great,” says Smith. “It’s always going to be kind of small because of the population, but there’s definitely room to grow.”

ATE3ONE, STARTED BY LONGTIME CHEF KASIA MASLANKA SMITH, SERVES UP HOT MEALS AT A FOOD TRUCK EVENT IN SCOTTS VALLEY. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

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Kasia Maslanka Smith, who owns the food truck Ate3One with her husband Jonathan, says she’s sensitive about sharing space with brick-and-mortar restaurants. She would rather see the regulations relaxed for public areas where there are no other food options. “I’m not going to go to downtown Santa Cruz because Hula’s [Island Grill], for example, can’t pack up their restaurant and go on the road. I wouldn’t do that, unless it was a private event,” says Smith.

A chef for more than 10 years, Smith opened Ate3One in 2014 after working with food trucks in San Jose. She recently purchased a second truck and sees lots of room for growth for food trucks in Santa Cruz. However, reaching the customer base is crucial, crediting Kates and her events for the opportunity to develop a following.

Both Smith and Watson say that although opening a food truck is expensive, it doesn’t even approach the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the area. Mobile vending is a much more affordable way for entrepreneurs, especially young people, to enter the industry and become business owners.

“The amount [of food trucks] we have is great,” says Smith. “It’s always going to be kind of small because of the population, but there’s definitely room to grow.”

Watsonville Food Truck Block Party serves up success

WATSONVILLE >> The success of Watsonville’s second Food Truck Block party was overwhelming as more than a thousand people swarmed the parking lot of the United Presbyterian Church looking for a savory meal.

People lined up to get in 30 minutes before the event began and each of the 10 trucks at the event drew long lines for most of the event.

“This is a total success but it’s a lot of people. It’s too successful,” said Watsonville Mayor Pro Tempore Felipe Hernandez, laughing at the notion.

The event is a follow to an food truck party in April that drew more than 400 people in a surprising success. With the second session, organizers added additional trucks to the original five that were at the first event.

 

 

Gabriel Huante, of Watsonville, attended with his wife and two kids. They hadn’t heard about the event but saw it as they were coming back from a trip to Salinas.

Though he added that the location of the event, in the parking lot of the United Presbyterian Church, was not ideal. He said he thought it should be featured near the city’s plaza off of Main Street, where crowds can bask on the greens and in the sun.

Though there was initial trepidation from city officials about the success of the first event, the Facebook event garnered hundreds of people after it was created. There are talks about the event becoming a regular occurrence for the city, happening once a month.

 

 

But more than provide a place for dinner, city officials aim to change the reputation of the city.

“I think everybody knows there’s a narrative when they refer to Watsonville. That there’s gangs. It’s overcrowded with Latinos. It’s a negative stereotype,” Hernandez said. “We’re trying to change that.”

As the afternoon turned to evening, the crowds refused to die down and each truck had a line.

Mike Kelly, of Soquel, was standing in line for the Ate3one food truck while his wife and two kids were checking out the other selections. Kelly said the family came in part because of the broad selection of food and the outdoor nature of the event.

 

 

“It’s nice when you have kids this age. You don’t have to worry about them going nuts in a restaurant,” he said as his kids ran around his legs.

Of the food available at the Ate3one truck, which featured french fries and sandwiches, Kelly wanted to try out the fish nachos.

“They seem to have the best offerings, but we’ll see what they got when we get to the front,” he said.

Kelly compared the event to events he’s seen in Austin, Texas, where food truck culture and events are rampant.

“It’s nice to see the food-truck culture come out here,” he said.