Food truck management company Off the Grid has partnered with Stanford under the University’s new mobile food vendor policy to provide late night and lunchtime food truck options. The first late-night food trucks appeared on campus on Jan. 11 and 12.
“There were existing policies already about how vendors and commercial businesses operate on campus, so this just extended them to food trucks, which are a unique business operation,” University Spokesperson Lisa Lapin said. “But the real impetus [for creating the policy] was the increasing popularity and variety of food trucks and the recognition that with a larger number of them, we needed to make sure that they are really providing the best service to the campus community.”
Following an initiative from ASSU Executives Robbie Zimbroff and William Wagstaff, a University committee studied how best to provide food trucks to locations that had limited access to food service. The committee, led by Assistant Vice President for Business Development Susan Weinstein, included representatives of multiple offices including Student Affairs and Business Development.
The committee found that the most effective way to provide food trucks on campus was through food truck management company Off the Grid, which now manages food truck pods from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. During lunch hours, one truck will be located on Lomita Mall instead of its previous parking spot on Santa Teresa Street to avoid competition with eateries at Tresidder Union.
“Our communication from Stanford has been very clear about the standards it wants us to bring to campus through the different food options that we would provide,” said Off the Grid founder Matt Cohen. “They’re really consistent with what we’re trying to do, which is really diverse food offerings that are both healthy and reliably there for people.”
Off the Grid has worked with the ASSU before, catering tailgates at football games, and Cohen expressed optimism about the continued partnership.
“We’re excited that the ASSU’s excited, and so we’re banking on them to communicate that there are these options available late at night and for people to take advantage of it,” Cohen said.
According to Zimbroff, food trucks have agreed to advertise only to people in the Stanford community, citing public safety reasons. The main methods of communicating information about the food trucks include email lists and a Facebook group that will be available only to affiliates of Stanford.
“It takes a lot to operate [food trucks]: cost, personnel and resource-wise…and still committing to a full quarter trial of bringing food trucks here late-night is really awesome of [Off the Grid],” he said.
Food truck Me So Hungry occupied the parking lot between Florence Moore Hall and Theta Delta Chi at night on Jan. 11. At about 11:30 p.m., Truck owner Johnny Cron reported that the night had been “mellow” so far.
“We didn’t expect much because it’s cold outside,” he added.
Although the food truck wasn’t busy, Cron said he was excited to be on campus.
“Since we’re a brand new truck, we’ve gotten some really good response from Off the Grid,” Cron said. “When I first bought the truck and brought it to Santa Clara, Stanford was at the top of my list, so when [Off the Grid] came to us, I didn’t even need to think about it.”
“I have no sense of how it will go,” Zimbroff said. “Initially, you expect it to be either a lag and people warm up to it, or a huge interest right off the bat and then it slows down. But either way, whichever direction it levels off, hopefully it levels off at a place where everyone can get what they’re looking for.”