Food trucks are so popular these days that it’s difficult to remember what life was like before they arrived. One of the first to arrive to the Orlando scene, Maitland’s Food Truck Café has seen large success since it first premiered 14 months ago.
Every Wednesday night from 6 to 9 p.m., up to nine large four-wheeler trucks will take their spots around Lake Lily. They fire up their grills and start serving fresh food to the hungry Maitland community. Just feet away from the trucks, a cluster of picnic tables surrounds a live music performance by the Performing Arts of Maitland.
“Everything is more organized since the first time I came here,” said Jan Stauffer, a regular to the event.
Stauffer has been attending the event with her husband, Bob, for the last few months. Since her first visit, the trucks have moved to park closer to each other. This makes it easier to browse foods that can be anything from spicy pork tacos to red velvet cupcakes. And since each truck’s menus are always changing, there are always new foods to choose from. But most trucks have a loyal following.
“We always stop at the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck on our way out,” Jan said.
The featured trucks are Melissa’s Chicken & Waffles, Korean BBQ Taco Box, Crooked Spoon, Big Wheel Provisions, Tree House, C & S Brisket, Yum Yum Cupcake Truck and Cafe Cocoa Mo. Every week there’s also a different guest truck that remains unannounced to keep it a surprise for attendees.
Big Wheel Provisions started doing business just weeks before Maitland’s Food Truck Café began and has been a regular ever since. Big Wheel Provisions chef Erik Gilbertson said that the business has grown in part due to the popularity of the event.
“Coming here has been one of the most consistently busiest nights of our week,” Gilbertson said.
It was the owners of the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck who first approached Mari Smith, Maitland’s community events coordinator, with the idea to start Food Truck Café. At the time, Smith had already noticed the food truck craze taking off in other states.
“So I thought let’s see how this will work here — it may just be for a little bit,” Smith said. “But it took off.”
The event runs every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Maitland’s Lake Lily at 701 Lake Lily Drive. Parking is limited. Visit itsmymaitland.com for more information.
Originally the event had taken place every Tuesday night but, due to limited parking at the civic center, it was changed to Wednesday night when more parking at the center is available. There used to be five trucks when the event first started, compared to the regular eight there are today.
Each truck pays $42 to rent their spot every Wednesday night. This money, Smith says, goes toward covering the costs of the event such as maintenance work. The city only makes a small, insignificant profit from the event each week.
“Less is more,” Smith said of her small but packed list of trucks. Her waiting list for guest spots is currently booked through September. “With less trucks, each one can actually make a profit,” she said.