It’s the time of year when Central Michigan University Research Corporation asks: Who doesn’t love a food truck?
Last year, the community made it clear the answer to that question is “probably no one,” as CMURC’s inaugural food trucks drew hundreds to the event each week for food and fellowship. This year, though, something’s changed.
“We moved the experience to Monday, to better serve the community,” said CMURC President and CEO Erin Strang. “It just made sense, few restaurants are open on Monday, and more trucks were able to commit.”
Strang said live music was added to the combination of several things that seem to be universally loved. Lunch, food trucks and people.
Strang said CMURC was surprised by the nearly immediate success and the overwhelming support of community involvement, starting with the very first event and continuing throughout the season last year.
The initial purpose of the event was to support entrepreneurs, allowing them a safe environment to test out their concepts, work on their best practices and learn from each other. The event was so successful that a couple of businesses that started as food trucks last year now have opened restaurants.
“Our goal as an organization is to give small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs the tools to grow,” said Strang. “Food trucks transitioning into brick-and-mortar restaurants are an example of the growth we facilitate.”
Kyle Stahl, co-owner of Killer Hibachi in Mount Pleasant, debuted his concept as a food truck last year. Now Killer Hibachi stands as a successful restaurant on Bluegrass Road and assists in coordinating the food truck event.
“The food truck continually grew, but we started to be capped at how much the food truck could actually sell,” said Stahl. “The food truck helped us build a massive customer base.”
Strang said visitors can expect some new features this year. “We’ve got some new trucks and carts lined up this year. Plus, we’re working on some fun additions like entertainment opportunities to give back to the community.”
The event will run every Monday, rain or shine, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at CMURC’s building at 2625 Denison Drive. Vendor lineups and more are announced each week through the CMURC Facebook page, and Monday activities can be followed via #truckitCMURC on social media.