How come food trucks don't come to pinball events?

Now, my work kind of confines me to the southern California area (and even then, I can only go on days where I happen to have that day off, which is usually mid-week and thus limited), but in every single non-pinball, non-food convention or expo I’ve been to, and a LOT of various competitions, there is a swarm of food trucks outside, and they are always quite packed.

Yet whenever I hear about pinball events, and the ones I have been to, if food options are mentioned at all, they are always either in-facility, cooked by volunteers, or they’re restaurants that happen to be nearby.

Thinking about Arcade Expo made me think about that: When I went to Arcade Expo last year, I saw some people cooking hot dogs and hamburgers and such in the parking lot, and there were a few eateries within walking distance in the town. But I think, as the Arcade Expo facility does not internally have a cafeteria (or I never found one), and it’s in a town so small that options are limited without driving, I found it weird for there not to be even one food truck, despite Banning being within an hour’s drive from major cities that have whole fleets of food trucks. If there’s a gathering, and they’re informed far enough in advance, they’ll come. Cosplay Expo, this past November, was a one-day event with an attendance of about 100 people, and even that had seven food trucks lined up outside, and they also gathered crowds of customers from people who happened to be passing by.

Are food trucks just not that common in certain areas? Is the pinball audience not that interested in food trucks? Do other events have food trucks, but they’re just never mentioned by anyone? Are food options low-priority for organizers?

(For that last one, I know people who help run Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and they tell me food options are classified middle-priority. The LACC’s food is from Aramark, which nobody likes, and it’s hard to find walking-distance food otherwise, so they bring in about 30 food trucks to Anime Expo. I’ve seen some high-profile ones there too, like Nonna’s Kitchenette, Middle Feast, Slap Yo Mama, Ludo, Jogasaki, The Grilled Cheese Truck, India Jones, Belly Bombz, White Rabbit, Rounds, George’s Greek, Buttermilk, Le Beignet, and Phantom.)

I don’t mean any disrespect to the people grilling the food just outside or making food on the premises, but it seems kind of weird to see it. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that, and it made me think about how Pinball News talks about the banquet at Pinball Expo, or how I hear people walking to McDonald’s or Jack in the Box for Replay FX. I also don’t mean any disrespect to event organizers; I know their job is VERY tough and I’ve seen the year-long prep work for other events. It just leaves me scratching my head about the lack of food trucks.

Texas Pinball Festival has had food trucks for the past couple years.


Ah, it does? I guess I never heard about them then. Sounds pretty nice, if the food trucks in Texas are as good (or better) than my local ones.

There were food trucks at PAPA 18 last year, and I am assuming they will be back again this year.

It’s been fairly throughly discussed why Replay didn’t have anything like this - the convention center is a business, and as such controls that stuff. They sell food themselves, are there to make money, and it was something the organizers didn’t have much control over.

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Although ReplayFX was nice in that there were tons of restaurants in quick walking distance of the convention center… probably a little slower and pricier than a food truck, but we certainly had no time rush getting dinner during the allotted dinner time slot.

The Twin Galaxies event they held at the same facility in Banning had a good food truck turnout, particularly for an event that had a much smaller overall turnout than AE. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a decent selection of trucks at AX this year.

Yeah, replayfx’s street access was a funny underpass (really, a bus station) underneath the convention center. It’s pretty big, but I bet they don’t like the buses idling for ventilation’s sake. Maybe the same goes for food trucks and their cooking exhaust.
Even though there were some decent restaurants nearby, I still ended up doing the convention center’s concession stand a few times. I guess it was all right for what it was. I would have crushed it all weekend at a decent food truck.

I tried to get food trucks for SFGE and I guess the organizers or someone was against the idea. Oh well I tried anyway :slight_smile:

Do they enforce what goes on outside the convention center’s grounds too? The LACC has food trucks parked outside of a couple of parking lots for most of its largest events. Those aren’t set up by the LACC, despite them being right across the street, but by the owners of the parking lots, who talk to the convention organizers and food truck owners and will block regular parking for that day to fill them up with food trucks.

I’d guess that the area near ReplayFX don’t have such big open space though, and I’m also going to guess that the facility where ReplayFX takes place controls parking in its immediate vicinity.

I’ll be looking forward to see who comes then. Southern California has an enormous number of food trucks, and for the most part, the only reasons they’d turn down an offer to go to an event with thousands of people would be if they’re not allowed to go or if they’ve already been booked for an even larger event.

Their loss.

Replay is in the middle of a downtown area where space is at a premium. I really didn’t see anywhere where food trucks could have set up.

They had a few good ones last year. One was doing gourmet grill cheese. They accidentally gave my friend and I a double order of sandwiches for free. Mistakes were made. In the end we both paid dearly…

Pittsburgh actually has some horrible laws about food trucks - they can only legally sell from private property.

For events at the Carnegie warehouse (like PAPA), my understanding is that event organizers invite the food vendors, it’s not an ad hoc kind of thing.

To answer your original question - lots of food trucks would probably go to pinball events if they knew about it and/or were invited. (My office is a 10-15 minute walk away from good lunch spots and we have food trucks come over as often as once a week on a prearranged schedule.) This seems like a pretty easy solution for a remote tournament to provide yummy food, and I encourage organizers to do it!

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Last year PAPA coincided with St Patrick’s Day events, so the food truck(s) that did show up had been working since early in the morning and did a pretty narrow dinner shift and then wrapped after what must have been a long day. There is a surface lot near the convention center that might work for Pinburgh, but that would require the food trucks to band together to rent that space and I’m not sure that wouldn’t still go astray of the local ordinances.

Well, Arcade Expo came and went. I guess that Atomic Hot Dogs, or whatever it was called, counts as a food truck. It looked like one anyway. I remember it being there last year, but I was pretty disappointed I didn’t see more of them.

They’re not allowed to sell in public areas? That’s terrible! That would severely limit their ability to sell food and discourage people from starting their own.

Most major events where I live DO invite food truck owners though. We actually have the opposite: Some cities’ governments encourage food trucks to show up and park by the curb. There’s a gathering of food trucks each Friday evening in Granada Hills, CA, for instance. It began as something unofficial, but now there are street signs that read “No Parking - 4 PM to 10 PM - Special Event.”

Personally, I think where it’s feasible, any event with 1,000 or more attendees should have some effort of inviting at least one. Maybe I’m seeing it from the perspective of a city with a veritable boom of food trucks, but it sounds pretty easy to invite one. But if there are laws like those in Pittsburgh, I can understand why it’d be way more difficult.

I guess it depends on the ownership of those parking lots and whether they’re considered public or private property. I get the hunch that it’s more trouble than it’s worth though.

The food is not only delicious at the trucks with a great variety, but you can duck out of the festival for a quick bite and be right back playing pins or seeing presentations in a few minutes. They will be back again this year according to organizers.

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