No passing fad, this.
In what has become a social phenomenon even in the dead of winter, food trucks and trailers are popping up all over the Great Lakes Bay Region, and people are taking notice. Flocking to these mobile restaurants in the hundreds, diners are not only ordering things like crab cakes, crêpes, and specialty sandwiches, they are making new friends and renewing old acquaintances.
“People come out, get food, and talk to each other,” says Jake Petroski, owner of the Crispy Crab. “I think it’s one of those things that fosters a real community spirit. It’s new and different, and it’s just fun.”
Amber Wendt, who owns the Crave Cave with her husband, Jacob, couldn’t agree more.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” she says. “We have over 900 customers come in at one point or another. Returning customers bring friends. It’s not rushed. It really brings a sense of community to people.”
Friendships have been forged around the food truck, she adds.
“People who may not know each other end up sitting together and having lunch,” says Wendt. “It’s such a feeling of freedom because it’s outside. It makes everything better.”
With most food trucks in the Great Lakes Bay Region opening within the past year, these moving eateries have become a win-win situation for both owners and customers.
Customers not only get fresh, homemade food, but prices are generally lower because owners don’t have the expenses of a brick-and-mortar building.
“Food trucks tend to serve really fresh food,” says Petroski. “I get what I need for the truck for that day. We have lower prices because we don’t have the overhead [costs].”
Petroski, who moved to Midland from Orlando, got a few surprises when he opened the Crispy Crab in February.
“People said I was crazy to do this in Michigan,” Petroski says. “But, knock on wood, it was well received. I knew it would be popular with the younger crowd. What really surprised me in Midland is how much of the older generation comes out. I thought my target demographic was Midland residents, but I’ve had people come from Bay City and Saginaw.”
Teaming up with the Midland Brewing Co., Shier’s Artisan Foods has found a home from 5 – 9 p.m., Tuesdays – Saturdays. Owners George and Kristen Shier serve specialty sandwiches, pizza, and Pork Green Chili, a dish that gets its name from Anaheim green chilies, to go along with a beer from the brewing company. The trailer may also be popping up at festivals around the region this summer.
Crêp offers 16-inch savory, sweet, breakfast crêpes filled with fresh ingredients, and is owned by Brandon Morley and David Bailey. Morley and his wife, Katie, can be found at the Midland Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market on Thursdays. They will also be at the Midland Art Fair, June 4 – 5.
The Crispy Crab brings a little bit of Florida to Michigan with its signature crab cakes, fish and shrimp tacos, and burgers with a mix of beef and chorizo sausage, served with chips and coleslaw. You can’t miss it—it’s a bright red truck with an orange crab on the side. Owner Jake Petroski serves food at various Midland businesses and at Midland Public Schools for fundraisers. Up-to-date locations can be found at www.facebook.com/crispycrabllc.
Crave Cave serves what the owners call a torch, featuring items such as meatloaf, pastrami, smoked Gouda cheese, chicken, and vegetarian options, and prepared in a wrap for easy eating, along with pastas and soup. Find the truck from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Tuesdays – Thursdays, at Geisler Enterprises, 1406 Pine Street in Midland.