Overton Park/Levitt Shell Meeting

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I had a meeting Monday with Rose Baker who is food truck POC for Overton Park Conservancy, and Silver Michaels who is stage manager and food truck POC for Levitt Shell. There is a lot so I’ll try to be concise:

  • Levitt Shell has had so many problems with food truck reliability that they will be moving to a “bond” system. They will require a $200 deposit from food trucks–you get your $200 back if you show up like you said you would. Silver is going to call Memphis Food Truck Association first if he has a no-show to find a replacement. He has seen our roster and he likes it, I think y’all will be at the top of his list when spots open up at the Shell for the 2018 concert season. Levitt Shell will be checking formalities next season so we’ll need to provide certs, permits and inspection scores.
  • Overton Park will be instituting a vending permit system. They actually had this all 2017 but it was not really enforced. Vendors who want to set up in the park will need to apply, show all their documentation, and purchase a permit. I think the permit will be $75-100 but it’s not set yet. I proposed that our organization be allowed to buy a certain number of permits (4?) and use them on a revolving basis, any four of our members would be allowed to vend in the park at any given time. I’m pretty sure they are going to go for that.
  • OPC is going to work with Code Enforcement and MPD to run out the illegitimate food vending that goes on there, and the janky ice cream vans that haven’t gone through the permit process.
  • Rose stated that both the City of Memphis properties and the large parks will be requiring a $2MM liability policy next season, up from the current $1MM. I’ve emailed our preferred insurance vendor to see how much this might change the cost of insurance for trucks.
  • I proposed Sunday food truck rodeos in Overton Park commencing in May. We would set up near the dog park on the edge of the Greensward. We’d start conservatively with 2-3 trucks and see how things develop. This would be marketed by us and and by OPC. There will probably be a $35 event fee. This requires approval by park executives but I’m almost sure it will happen. The idea is to have one Sunday rodeo at Overton Park and one at Shelby Farms, trucks can rotate between them. I want us to do the scheduling for both events.
  • OPC is moving their Day of Merriment event to the first Saturday in October. Merriment is their biggest outdoor event of the year. They asked for advice on how many food trucks to book because they are sincerely trying not to overbook it. Moving Merriment to October leaves a big hole in their summer schedule which we will probably fill with a food truck festival to be held on the Greensward managed by our organization. This requires approval too but they seemed enthusiastic about it.
  • I proposed something similar to Atlanta’s “Night Market” concept. This is a popup food festival which emphasizes food from non-professional cooks who are first generation Americans. Like “cook in your own language”. The public votes for their favorites, there is a cash prize for the winners, and eventually we hope the successful ones will have food trucks of their own. Rose and Silver _love_ this idea, it is perfect for their 38104 clientele, and Silver proposed we hold it at the Shell, with the vendors being up on the decks and in the street on top of the auditorium. This would be while the Levitt Shell concert series is temporarily offline in August.
  • I proposed a similar popup fest which would be vegan-only. This would be on the Greensward and would have more food trucks and restaurants, fewer home cooks, but the same concept. They like this idea a lot too. It’s important for us to start managing successful large events even if they aren’t mainly food truck events because it builds a lot of credibility and public trust.