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Off the Grid food trucks may come to Menlo Park

Original post made on Jan 2, 2014

Off the Grid, a highly popular Bay Area food truck gathering, might set up shop in Menlo Park this year. The organization has applied for a use permit to operate in the Caltrain parking lot at the corner of Merrill Street and Ravenswood Avenue.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 2, 2014, 8:59 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by Kate, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

Where does the sales tax go for food trucks? Would the sales tax go to Menlo Park if they are selling in Menlo Park? This will hurt the restaurants in the area. If this is to be a regular occurance then the food trucks should have to pay "rent" or a permit price that at the very least matches what restaurants have to pay in rent.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

I'm hardly an expert but...
- no doubt they will have to purchase a food vending permit from Menlo
- probably have to do some sort of San Mateo county food permit as well
- probably an "event" permit from Menlo on top of that
- probably pay rent to Caltrain for the parking lot usage
- logic would be that they would pay the San Mateo Co. sales tax since both the business and the exchange of goods/cash will take place in SMCo.

Food truck gatherings are not a new event. I'm sure all of the appropriate fees will be collected.

Posted by resident, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Wish we had an event like this in southern Palo Alto where the restaurant selection is very poor.

Posted by Menlo Parker, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 2, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I would love to have a few more good food options in Menlo as I consistently go to other places like Palo Alto to satisfy my taste buds. A 1 year permit seems like a pretty low-risk trial period for the city to see if it's a good fit for our community.

Ditto all the questions posed by Elsafy and others - that said, they should be fairly easy to have addressed. This isn't Off the Grid's first rodeo. I've enjoyed their product offerings elsewhere and think it could be a nice compliment to our higher brow offerings here in Menlo.

While the noise could be irritating, it's in a good location that shouldn't impact very many residents/businesses any more than traffic/trains already do.

Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I'm not sure this type of event hurts the restaurants. It's only once a week, and I think a lot of people come out for it that wouldn't normally be eating out that night. At least that's what I would do. There is usually such an interesting variety of food from food trucks. And, I don't see that they are any cheaper than other eating establishments. Sometimes they seem to be more expensive. The one at Edgewood Plaza was great, and I wish we could have one in Palo Alto.

Posted by Drago Brova, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

The restaurant owner has very legitimate concerns. Who will clean up all the garbage left not only by the food trucks but also by the guests. Not everyone will throw their plates and leftover in the garbage cans. There is also the issue of food and grease being spilled on the ground. Who cleans that up?

The food trucks can't just expect to show up and leave without cleaning up the mess they caused.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

If you've been to any other food truck gathering then you would know that the organizer takes care of trash and clean up. This is not like food truck stop at a construction site.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

I love Off The Grid! They put on a really fun, clean, social, nice event. I take Caltrain to work in Menlo Park. I never eat at the restaurants downtown but I would certainly attend this every week.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:06 am

@Drago Brova - go visit Moveable Feast for lunch in Palo Alto on Tuesday. It is a civil, clean affair, nothing to be afraid of. Edgewood Eats was a great asset to the neighborhood when it was around. Fresh Market would probably benefit from getting another food truck night going.

I have my doubts it hurts restaurants, but so what if it does? Is it the city's duty to block competition? Maybe it will help incentivize some of those overpriced mediocre restaurants to improve. (Bistro Vida - 3* on yelp).

Posted by Yeccccchhh, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I have gotten food poisoning a couple of times from food trucks. They need to be held to higher health and safety standards than they are now. I am sure there are good reasons why people call them "roach coaches".

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2014 at 4:54 pm

They are only referred to as roach coaches by you, yech. Plenty of people eat at them with no problems. They are held to Hugh standards as far as health and safety are. You make the same comment ivor and ver again on these threads-- why don't you tell us exactly which food trucks made you sick [portion removed.]

Posted by Foodie, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2014 at 10:53 am

I think the food trucks are a fun event, but they need to be off the grid like it's name. The issue here is the traffic and parking impact it will cause during Spring and Summer time. Imagine several thousand people attending this event on a hot Summer day. Where do the patrons park? Downtown and Caltrain. The current restaurants will be devastated from the parking impact, where their regular customers wont find parking. Some people say oh it's only once a week, it won't harm the restaurants. Well, what if your boss came to you and said by the way, we are going to bring someone else on Wednesdays and replace you without pay for one day, how would you feel. Is the Caltrain station for Off The Grid ADA COMPLIANCE, has a EIR report been done, and has a financial impact report been done?

Posted by Foodie, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2014 at 10:58 am

Currently the health department inspects restaurants on a surprise visit. Food trucks have to make an appointment with the health department to get inspected. Food trucks have different standards then restaurants. I would love to see surprise inspections for food trucks also.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm

@Foodie - there is no particular shortage of parking on Wednesday nights downtown Menlo park. And if there is a huge infusion of people coming, it will certainly help many of the other businesses, if not the restaurants

Posted by Chichi , a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I have personally gotten sick from the Oaxacan kitchen food truck! nd also one that used to be on Mtn View near the Pueblo market. Another one on the Stanford Campus near the Red barn and tennis courts made my friend and I sick. Have never tried ones on Meno or anywhere else in the last four years--reluctant to do so. Food poisoning can keep you tied to the bathroom on agony for 3-4 dys!

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on Jan 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Will the Bacon-Bacon truck be there?

Posted by Chichi, a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I used to go to Oaxacan Kitchen when it was a restaurant, so I trusted them. Obviously, food trucks are held to a different standard! I felt so betrayed ......maybe they should call Gordon Ramsay.

Posted by Gourmet Ghetto - Yes !, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I would just love this! I hope it is agreeable thru the hearing process. I have been to the one at Fort Mason. Ever since Andales left Palo Alto finding a regular "go to" place that is easy on the wellet and great on the palette as well as healthy / clean cuisine has not be easy - aka Gourmet Ghetto would be a variety of menues and a vibrant addition to our town !. I agree with the statement could encourage "overpriced mediocre restaurants to improve".
A few at the California Avenue Farmers Market are true jewels. Some are a bit pricy.

Posted by Chichi, a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 5, 2014 at 8:35 pm

'Twas at the Farmers Mkt that I was sickened by Oaxacan Kitchen! A lot of the. Farmer's market has gotten pricey....maybe because it is winter, but I should not be paying Mollie Stone's prices for winter crops, such as pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranates, oranges, and kale.

However, the food trucks they used to have near the Congregationalist Church on Embarcadero were exceptional. The Church had no problem with them in their parking lot-- what happened? Was it the taxes they did not pay?

Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm

You are what you eat ;)

Posted by Chichi, a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

@Rupert: Things must be really perfect in Henzau if you have never suffered from food poisoning at a restaurant or food truck, don't have asthma or allergies or whatever the heck AD is.

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Chichi-- yes things are great in Henzau and they are pretty good at the food trucks in PA and MP-- the vast majority of people eat and stay healthy. BTW, the asthma comment was not directed at you, unless you are getting your identities mixed up

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