MoBowl, Babaloo, and House of Siam on Wheels
Three popular trucks at 5:45 = MoBowl, Babaloo, and House of Siam on Wheels

Moveable Feast is to the South Bay and Peninsula, what Off the Grid is to San Francisco. But the vibe is most certainly different.

Held this past Friday on July 1st, Moveable Feast felt way more like a county fair than OtG’s hipster foodie hotspot. The San Mateo Event Center location also had plenty of grassy areas for the suburbanite families in attendance to have a dinnertime picnic. There was also a pricier flat parking fee of $10 per vehicle, though that didn’t seem to deter most people from checking out the inaugural event.

Ryan Sebastian in front of his truck, Treatbot
Moveable Feast Operator, Ryan Sebastian in front of his truck “Treatbot”

Moveable Feast (formerly called “SJ Eats”) is the creation of Ryan Sebastian. This former transportation planner always had plans of creating community spaces, and he knew food was a great catalyst to make that happen.

“My family always had big gatherings growing up in San Jose and I loved it. And my wife has a culinary background, so it happened pretty naturally.”

It started this past April with their first food truck gathering in San Jose. Their first time out was huge, but not exactly a success.

“I own the Treatbot ice cream truck with my wife, so I knew a lot of other trucks in the area. I knew the San Pedro Square Market in San Jose had enough parking space, so we ended up there on a Saturday with about 10 trucks and spread the word through Facebook. The demand was so much higher than we ever expected and it got out of control. There was overcrowding, the wait times for food were ridiculous and we got slaughtered on Yelp, afterwards.”

Three months later, after a lot more planning and organization, the San Jose event goes off in the same place every Saturday, without a hitch.

Their success eventually caught the attention of the folks at the San Mateo Events Center, who actually called Ryan to ask if he’d be interested in doing a similar event for the Peninsula.

“This is the biggest food truck event on the Peninsula, ever. Twenty-five trucks is pretty big. We’re gonna be here the first Friday of every month from here on out.”

The line is about 20 deep @ An The Go @ 5:45
Lines are getting long in front of the “An The Go” truck at 5:45

And attendance was pretty big too. Though the event was supposed to start at 5:30, there were plenty of folks checking out the scene at 5:15. By the time I had left at 6:15, the lines for some of the more popular trucks had gotten about 20 people deep, and I estimated anywhere from 1000-2000 people total with many more streaming in. Add to that some local live music on-site, and you’ve got a huge suburban block party.

3 popular trucks at 5:45 = Mama's Empanadas, Hiyaaa, Curry Up Now
3 popular trucks at 5:45 = Mama’s Empanadas, Hiyaaa, Curry Up Now

The line-up of trucks is intentionally made up of mostly Peninsula and South Bay-based food trucks like Curry Up Now, Mama’s Empanadas, Hiyaaa Naked Chorizo and BBQ Kalbi. That’s the main difference between Moveable Feast and Off the Grid. OtG features trucks from all over the Bay Area.

But Off the Grid organizer, Matt Cohen had talked a few months ago ambitiously about starting an OtG on the Peninsula. Is there room for both of them?

At least 1000-1500 people by 6pm.
I estimated at least 1000-1500 people by 6pm.

“People in the Peninsula know there’s a huge demand for this and that the food coming out of these trucks is fantastic. This is America and there’s room for both of us in a metropolis of seven million people. I have nothing but respect for Matt. OtG is awesome!”

And Ryan has faith that mass food truck events like his are here to stay. “Ultimately, the idea of informal eating is not a new concept and it’s not a fad. When we provide legitimate marketplaces for these entrepreneurs to do business, it helps all of us do better.”

Moveable Feast
San Pedro Square, San Jose, Every Saturday 5-9pm
San Mateo Events Center, First Friday of every month, 5:30-10pm

Twitter: @MVBLfeast

Move Over Off the Grid: Moveable Feast Comes to the Peninsula 3 July,2011Elaine Wu

  • Peg

    I know several people who went. While we were all excited about the idea, the lines were just too much. Yumisilog had the longest line when we left around 7pm. I definitely would have tried more food if it hadn’t been for the crowds. I don’t know what solution can be found, but we did discuss not returning if the lines are always that long. It’s too little food for the time.

  • That’s really the issue with most food truck events, Peg. My only solution is to arrive when they open or much later. I won’t even think about hitting these events between 6:30-8:30.

  • Slovebunny

    I went with a few friends got there about 7:20 paid $10 parking because we drove from San Jose. I left hungry. Stood in line for 35 minutes to be told they were out of what I wanted to order and the other items were at least a 30-40 minute wait, in the end I got my money back. My friend got into 3 different line and was told the wait was 60 minutes. By 8pm we just had to leave. Drove to Palo Alto and ate there.
    I might go back but the crowd was intense. No place to a sit the lines were horrendous all the way to the picnic table area. Wish I had gotten there @ 5:30 when you told those pictures.

    Trucks ran out of food, shut down before 9:30. They just weren’t prepared. In the end I know I didn’t get my money’s worth. Gas, parking & no food = Not Happy.
    Funny while talking to some of the food truck people they didn’t expect that kind of turn out. Too Bad.

  • Just spoke to the organizers and they honestly didn’t expect the huge turnout. But the weather helped, and add to that the fact that the area’s never had an event like that before, the turnout was way more than expected. I’m sure they’re going to be much better prepared next month when they return. The same thing happened for their first San Jose event. Live and learn. 🙂

  • Great overview! I really hope this event becomes a regular summer tradition. I went last Friday and loved seeing the diverse crowds and families out. The lines are a bit of a concern, but if more trucks can come out, I think they can make it work. There’s so much space! I interviewed Treatbot on my blog recently and I really am rooting for Moveable Feast to revolutionize the South Bay and Peninsula food scene:

  • Jim Brust

    You have to consider that these types of events are very new and just getting around to learning the ropes for a “perfect setup”.

    The parking and drink prices are set by the San Mateo Expo Center and they just plain ridiculous. I don’t think we will be seeing MF or any other food events there anytime soon, they are a complete ripoff and take away from the wonderful food community due to their grubby and greedy fingers!

    I love the connection and energy of Moveable Feast and I look forward to seeing it grow.


Elaine Wu

Elaine spent over 11 years working in television and radio as a producer, writer and correspondent for MTV Asia, KPIX/CBS 5, and radio stations like KSAN and KTCT in San Francisco. After leaving broadcasting, she began working for financial software giant, Intuit, where she managed their customer word-of-mouth programs and then spearheaded their internal social media communication strategies. She’s also managed external communications for BlogHer, the largest community of women bloggers online, and is currently the director of corporate communications at Rocket Fuel, a digital advertising technology startup in Silicon Valley. Her personal blog, VirgoBlue , was started in 2007 as a way to express her love of food as she explores the culinary delights of the Bay Area and beyond.

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