Lessons from Churchill Square

As you know, we saw record crowds at our 2015 Kickoff Event in Churchill Square on May 23. We’ve received a lot of response, both positive and negative, and wanted to take this opportunity to address some key concerns that were raised.

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Why was the event only one day, and four hours at that?

We usually plan our events to be on one specific day, and our standard operating hours are four hour increments. This allows us to have time to properly load the trucks into the space we’re using and get everyone set up, once the streets have been blocked off for our use. However, we heard from many of you that you’d like to see the event span over two separate days in the future, especially given the popularity of the first event of the season! The four hour event also allows the trucks to serve the food that they’ve prepped; anything longer would require a reload period which at this time, we’re unsure how to navigate without a break in the event. The trucks can only physically hold so much, so this issue is a constant challenge.

These events must pull in a lot of money for What The Truck?!

What the Truck is completely run on volunteer power! The trucks pay an event fee which covers event expenses, like closing the street. They then get as many meals as possible into the hands of Edmontonian food truck fans.

Why don’t the lines move faster?

One of the best things about Edmonton’s food truck scene is that all the food is homemade. This means that each dish takes time to prepare. Depending on what’s prepped beforehand, the ingredients involved, and the experience of the truck team, wait times can be impacted. Several of you waited in lines only to see that the item you were waiting for was sold out just before you reached the truck, we’re working on a solution to this problem for future events.

There weren’t enough trucks to serve all the attendees.

We had 25 trucks booked for the opening Churchill Square event, and without any promotion garnered 12,000 RSVPs on Facebook. May long weekend signals the start of the summer, and Edmontonians are ready to spend some time outdoors. Some trucks served 500 items, others served almost 1000! It’s tough to control the popularity of something that is so beloved by local food truck fans. We simply didn’t have the space to add more trucks. Luckily, the many restaurants near Churchill were happy to accept the overflow! This post outlines a tried and tested method for getting multiple items from multiple trucks. Keep an eye on the Facebook RSVPs and be sure to come early!

I couldn’t tell which lines were which, it looked like they just all merged together!

We do plan the directions of the lineups as best we can in advance, but with an event like Churchill even the best line management plan would’ve been overwhelmed by all the  attendees. We’re working on better line management for future events so it’s easier to tell which line you’re in!

We will be doing our best to incorporate the valuable feedback we receive from WTT?! events, and if you have suggestions, questions, or concerns please contact us at team@whatthetruck.ca.

  • I understand why What the Truck wouldn’t want to say this officially, but here’s some additional advice: come EARLY. Not just “within the first half hour,” but fifteen minutes or so BEFORE the event begins. You still might have to stand in a line, but it will be short, and you will get everything you came for.

    • Stuart Kehrig

      Your advice matches well to your username so I feel like this is a good suggestion. My mind is malleable that way.

  • Ian

    For an event like this, I think the trucks should be limited to only serving two or three “signature” dishes and perhaps also limit the size of the dishes (similar to the way taste of Edmonton works). I think this has a few advantages: 1) it allows the trucks to stock/prepar more product for just those dishes, 2) it would make service faster is there were only two or three options to choose from, 3) if the dishes were smaller samples, it would allow patrons to try more dishes from more trucks (both because they could afford it and could actually eat that much food!)

    Love the event, can’t wait for the next one.

    • Mikhaila Skehor

      Hi Ian, smaller serving sizes would definitely be something to consider. We’ll be discussing tweaking the format at our next meeting!