Discovery Bay has been the site of an effort to keep local restaurants and food trucks in business.
Through a Facebook page called Food Trucks on Your Street, Discovery Bay, residents can schedule both food trucks and pop-ups from local restaurants to come to their neighborhoods and peddle their sweet and savory treats.
The idea began as a larger, East County movement when Vivian Treff, owner of Boondoggies all-American mobile hot dog stand, was trying to envision a way for herself and others like her to continue to make a living. The shelter-in-place mandates have closed restaurants’ dining rooms and many people are supporting small businesses by ordering meals for takeout or delivery. But what of eateries that don’t have a brick-and-mortar location to serve customers?
“I was dead in the water,” said Treff, a Brentwood resident. “Everything was canceled, all large gatherings were canceled . . . we didn’t know what to do. We started thinking about how we could shift gears in communion with the health department and city.”
Treff came up with a plan and created a Facebook page called The Great Food Truck Race of Brentwood, Oakley and Discovery Bay. Residents were able to connect with local food trucks and restaurants with mobile carts and schedule them in their own neighborhoods. Amanda Dove of Discovery Bay took the idea and ran with it, starting the localized Discovery Bay Facebook page to keep things organized.
“I built from (Vivian’s) concept, but with the hope that we could control the number of food trucks in town each day by creating a Discovery Bay-only calendar,” said Dove. “This way we could keep the food trucks from overwhelming the town — booking and promoting only one county-permitted truck per day helps both the food truck and the other restaurants in town.”
Once the word spread, local restaurants like Callahan’s Coffee and Cones and Vin Alegro joined the movement with their own pop-ups.
Dove said most of the trucks are locally owned, but some outside ones have come by special request. Michael Callahan is a Discovery Bay resident and business owner who has brought his Coffee and Cones to the community through the Food Trucks on Your Street, Discovery Bay Facebook page Dove started. He said the business he gets at his pop-up has helped to augment the huge decline in foot traffic his shop has seen.
“We are just trying to get people to buy ice cream,” Callahan said with a laugh. “We have a cart, and we sell all of our prepacked ice creams in half pints and pints. We try to offer the community options at their door at these private events.”
Callahan added the events are going well and have enabled his business to continue to provide complimentary ice cream certificates to local schools and nonprofits as awards.
“Things like that are important to continue,” Callahan stated. “It’s hard enough for the kids to school at home, and to not get recognized for getting on the honor roll while schooling at home would really make it horrible. These events are making it so that we are able to continue doing that.”
Discovery Bay resident Terry Arellano owns Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard in Brentwood. She said as a local business owner who has been hurt by the pandemic, she very much appreciates the effort her community is making to keep family businesses like hers from closing. When the food truck events began, she and her husband pulled their cart out and began offering dessert all over East County.
“We were struggling,” Arellano admitted, adding the business they’ve done at the private neighborhood events has saved them. She described an all too common situation that included reduced hours, laid-off staff, overdue rent and a bleak future.
“These days, the store may make $300, maybe on a hot day on the weekend, $500,” Arellano said. “Then we go to the food truck events and in the first two days, we made $3,000. So it really has helped us.”
Rita’s has been able to increase store hours and hire more employees. Arellano said they are being booked at events in Discovery Bay, Brentwood and Oakley.
“We love having (the food trucks) come out on our street,” said Discovery Bay resident Christina Resendiz. “It was nice to get out, walk down a few houses to grab dinner and dessert without having to actually go drive to a restaurant or order delivery.”
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