The food truck revolution kicks into high gear

BOSTON, MA – Considering the long, winding lines at Boston’s first Food Truck Festival last August, you would think that Chris Masci, founder of the South End’s SoWa Open Market, which hosted the event, would be busy planning a sequel. Those crowds formed hours before most of the mobile eateries had opened, and the queues at some peaked at around 250 people. Every last morsel was eaten.

But instead of ironing out the details of a second annual event, Masci says he sees “no need to have another festival.’’ Over the past few months, he says, food trucks have become fixtures around the city. Two years ago, just mentioning “Boston’’ and “food truck scene’’ in the same sentence would have been laughable; thick reams of red tape prevented entrepreneurs from setting up shop within the city limits. Then an initiative led by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, coupled with a measure passed by the City Council earlier this year, made it significantly easier for vendors to clear the regulatory hurdles. As a result, Boston is poised to become one of the nation’s newest food truck capitals. In fact, it may already deserve that designation: Since around this time last year, about 30 mobile eateries have been operating in Boston and Cambridge. And Boston will add 12 to 20 new vendors by next spring.

At the moment, the region’s gourmet truck offerings range from the old school — Big Moe’s M&M Ribs serving heaping plates of barbecue for a quarter century now — to newer, healthier menus, led by Clover Food’s ever-expanding empire of tricked out hipster-mobiles. (Since opening on the MIT campus in 2008, and appearing a year ago on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway with one truck and around a half-dozen employees, Clover has grown to include three trucks, with another on the way, and a Cambridge restaurant, employing over 80.)

The trucks tend to cluster at different sites along the Greenway, City Hall Plaza, Cambridge’s Kendall Square, and, on Sundays, the SoWa Open Market. One, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, has been notably absent from its regular spot in Brighton’s Cleveland Circle this year. Rumor has it that the truck is currently filming the second season of the Food Network’s competition “The Great Food Truck Race.’’

Add it all up, and it’s hard not to agree with Masci. There really is no need to plan a festival because, in a way, it’s already happening. Instead of lasting for just a few hours one summer day, Boston’s food truck celebration is ongoing and everywhere. And here to stay.

Rob Anderson can be reached at [email protected].


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