Thursday, July 18, 2024

Food-a-looza wants to become the community-driven, monthly go-to for food trucks and popups

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Over the past weekend, a group of folks from the city’s various business improvement districts, City Hall, community advocates, and residents ventured to Downtown L.A. to visit the massively popular Smorgasburg, a weekly event which features a select group of popups and food vendors.

Competition for the spaces is par none: Hundreds of applicants applied—where, should you be chosen for a spot, tenants will have pay premium prices every time they participate—and only a handful of spots were given, including one to Long Beach’s own stellar Shlap Muan.

Sal Flores of LB Living—the same crew behind the Long Beach Tamales Festival and the Long Beach Taco Festival—hopes to create something different when it comes to the inaugural Food-a-looza event , a partnership with the long-loved Pacific Coast Swap meet. The event comes this Saturday, March 4, at the Pacific Coast Highway campus of Long Beach City College.

“We want to be able to provide our local food trucks and popups a space where they can actually afford to come to, have options in how they want to financially participate, and be a part of a monthly community event,” Flores said.

Their goal is to help create an easier process for vendors, from permitting to licensure for how to effectively run their business; for instance, popups might not know that while food trucks can score a single operating permit to operate throughout the year, popups have to pay every time they set up. On top of that, everyone participating has an option for how they wish to pay to get a slot: Pay a single fee while keeping the entirety of their sales or pay a much smaller fee and have a small portion of their sales go back to the event organizers for the following month.

“Ultimately, this is coming out of my pocket but I am hoping we can eventually get to the point where the city can help us these fees,” Flores said.

And that request isn’t necessarily a big ask: Smorgasburg and the 626 Night Market have proven to be cultural powerhouses, bringing in tons of people to places that are likely skipped over by the common visitor while also shining a light on local brands.

Long Beach, meanwhile, feels void when it comes to regular happenings: There is the fairly new LB Night Market, which has a schedule that isn’t quite written in stone, and our farmers markets don’t push into the later afternoon before shuttering.

Right now, Flores and his crew have over 30 vendors, including 15 food vendors:

  • Mr. Fries Man
  • Messi Burger
  • Thai-Mex Cocina
  • Comfort Wingz
  • Mariscos Arenillas
  • Mr. Falafel
  • The Berlin Truck
  • Haole Boys Shave Ice
  • Inglorious Funnels
  • Mapachito’s Cafe
  • Habachi Queens
  • Heritage Food Truck
  • The Tres Leches Bus
  • Surfer Taco
  • Italian Burger & Grill

And on top of this, El Barrio Cantina will be hosting the alcohol area, with beer, wine, and wine cocktails.

“In the end, we need to have not just the community’s support but the city’s as well,” Flores said. “It is can be challenging for event planners, restaurant owners, food vendors, and popups to do business in this city because of the extensive permitting process. But if we have an event that brings thousands of people every month, perhaps the powers that be will be willing to see this as a benefit to the city and help us make it easier and affordable to bring more community events.”

Food-a-looza will take place March 4 at 2PM at the Pacific Coast Campus of the Long Beach City College, located at 1305 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. For more information, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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