People came to the parking lot of the newly-renovated Buckhead Theatre on July 28. Parents with children, young professionals walking their tongue-wagging dogs, women convincing themselves that their workout routines negated the sins they were about to commit, stood around and assessed their options.
A sign on the side of the Buckhead Theatre promised air conditioning and cold beer inside. The potential customers would get to that in a second.
At the Yumbii truck, manager Bobby Rodriguez, who called himself an “ambassador of delicious flavors,” beckoned people into the cooler shade of his rolling restaurant. One of several options, the Yumbii truck offers a fusion of Korean flavors with Tex-Mex cooking.
Yumbii is just one of many choices at the weekly gathering which is part of a growing food truck culture in Atlanta. Rodriguez said the vendors have to deal with some misconceptions.
“The general idea (of food trucks) has been tainted by the term ‘roach coach,’” Rodriguez said. “The ones that are coming out now are LA-style food trucks.”
The food truck event provides patrons a diverse menu. Diners can feast on tacos, hot dogs, po-boy sandwiches, popsicles, barbecue and gelato.
The Atlanta Street Food Coalition, which promotes the event and campaigns for street food vendors around the city, reports events like the one at Buckhead Theatre are important to the Atlanta street food movement.
Scott Smallwood, director of publicity for the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, said there is city legislation in the works to ease restrictions on food cart vendors. He said food trucks have surged in popularity as the economy has remained stagnant. Last year, there were five vendors. Now there are more than 25, Smallwood said.
“People are looking for quality food at a price they can afford,” Smallwood said.
And for people watching their bottom line, the food trucks offer quality at fast food prices. A typical patron can spend less than $10 and find satisfaction — not including beer, of course.
Smallwood said the Buckhead event benefits the coalition’s mission and the surrounding neighborhood.
“That area right there doesn’t have a lot of food options,” Smallwood said. “It’s a central location in Buckhead and has a good amount of parking in it.”
People took their meals inside and enjoyed the comforts of the Buckhead Theatre lobby as bartenders happily poured cold beer and mixed drinks.
Allison and Larry Ritter, a couple from Dacula, Ga., working in Atlanta, make the event every week before heading home.
”The food is great,” Larry Ritter said. “It’s sort of a different experience for Atlanta, not only with taste but for variety.”
Ben Jager and Skye Forsgren, from Dunwoody, checked out the food trucks for the first time on July 28 and said they enjoyed the vibe.
“It’s more of a social event,” Forsgren said.
“Yeah, I think it’s a nice alternative to fast food,” Jager added.