Walla Walla Food truck culture expands, grows in popularity

Hannah Bartman

The first Food Truck Night of the season took place last Monday, April 6 and was welcomed with open hearts and mouths by many Whitman students and community members alike. The Food Truck Night, consisting of 15 different food trucks, will take place the first Monday of every month and will continue through October. This is only the second time that this event has taken place in its location at Burwood Breweries near the Port of Walla Walla. The first time was last October, and it was met with the same success as this year.

“It was way bigger than any one of us could have ever imagined,” said co-coordinator and co-owner of Burwood Brewery, Laura Marshall.

“It was madness,” said other co-coordinator Shane Johnson of food truck Why Not Pizza.

The initial Food Truck Nights began two years ago and took place in the parking lot of Bacon & Eggs. After the venue at Burwood Brewing proved to attract a much larger crowd, the owners of Bacon & Eggs approached Marshall and Johnson about moving the Food Trucks permanently to the spot. While Marshall and Johnson are unsure why this particular venue attracted such a large group of visitors, they hypothesize that it is because it provides more access for parking, a nice grass area for customers to sit and a conducive environment for families.

“It reminded me of Portland’s food truck culture –– just walking up and ordering and eating outside around everyone and seeing the people make the food. It was a nice atmosphere,” said junior Isaac Sappington.

The quantity of food trucks available in Walla Walla is surprisingly large for such a small community, perhaps due to Walla Walla’s food and wine culture which provides a wealth of events and opportunities for food trucks. Approximately 25 trucks ranging from Mexican food to burgers and ice cream are available for events. Trucks also obtain permits to occupy a certain parking spot in Walla Walla throughout the week.

According to Johnson, a food truck is a welcome alternative to a restaurant in that it does not require the certain overheads necessary to owning a physical area. Owners of a food truck do not have to pay to employ, for rent space or for utilities, and the mobility of a food truck allows for owners to move from space to space, not restricting their customer base to one crowd.

“There’s more demand for food trucks [in Walla Walla] than what’s available,” said Johnson.

The presence of a food truck culture in Walla Walla is only growing, and the expansion of the wine industry and the success of nights such as the Food Truck Night will only increase that popularity.