The proliferation of food trucks — the hot culinary trend that previously was a fixture mainly in urban areas — is cruising strong and making its way to the suburbs.
The Union City Chamber of Commerce is seizing on the popularity of street food to hold several "Curbside Cuisine" events throughout the city this summer to raise money for the chamber and drum up support for local businesses.
Dana Hernandez, executive director, said the local chamber has partnered with Grill Stars Curbside Cuisine, a Fremont-based food truck vendor that serves burgers and BBQ, to organize the events.
Grill Stars co-founder Patrick Clarke said he and fellow chef Phil Woodman first came up with the idea to bring food truck festivals to the Tri-Cities area because there is nothing similar happening now.
"We want to bring the gourmet food truck flavor to the East Bay," Clarke said.
The two approached the Union City Chamber three months ago, and later the Chambers of Commerce for the cities of Newark and Fremont, with the idea.
The first event in Union City will be held near from 4 to 8 p.m. on June 30. Seven to eight food trucks are expected to participate.
The chamber is still finalizing details with Grill Stars for other Union City locations and dates, but locals will get their fix of food truck fare through August. Also in August, the chamber plans a large event featuring 15 to 20 truck food vendors from around the Bay Area.
Clarke said each food truck will pay $60 to participate and 10 percent of their revenues will go to the chamber.
But these events are also about community service, Hernandez said, and are meant to stimulate the local economy by having businesses and nonprofits participate as well.
She said the chamber is encouraging organizations to set up tables near the food trucks to provide information to the community and showcase their products and services.
"This is a trendy event for folks to come out and enjoy ethnic foods while promoting local business," Hernandez said.
Because the food trucks must obtain business licenses from the city of Union City to participate in the "Curbside Cuisine" events, Hernandez said she thinks many of them will make visits afterwards as well.
Clarke agreed. The events are a first step, but "We want it to last," he said.
Food truck gatherings have been popping up recently across the Bay Area, from "SJ Eats" in San Jose to "Off the Grid" in San Francisco, and the Tri-Cities events will be organized similarly.
"The feedback from the local businesses in cities where these events have been held has been very positive in stimulating business," Hernandez said.
For those who can't wait for June 30, Newark's food truck fest — dubbed "Street Eats" — is kicking off tomorrow.
The first event will be at NewPark Mall this Friday, June 10, from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Future events will occur every other Friday through the summer.
Clarke said proceeds from food truck sales at each Newark gathering will go to NewPark Mall to distribute to a nonprofit of its choice.
The popularity of Newark's program could be an indicator for what Union City can expect when it launches, Hernandez said.
"We want Newark's to be successful because we want ours to be successful," she said.