Hundreds of members of the University of Maryland and College Park community mingled Friday during the city’s food truck launch on Route 1.
Prince George’s County officials passed legislation in October 2015 allowing food trucks to operate within the county’s boundaries, according to the DMV Food Truck Association’s website. This event marked the first of many weekends community members will be able to enjoy food on wheels.
A few hundred residents, students and university members lined up starting at about 5 p.m. to enjoy quesadillas from the Q-Truck as well as chicken and waffles from the Capital Chicken & Waffles truck at the former site of the Little Tavern, said David Engle, a university alumnus and co-owner of the Q-Truck.
“It was amazing how many people came,” Engle said. “Local law enforcement, different vendors, a wide variety of people came for the trucks. They were wrapped around the corner, and that was the line for about three hours.”
Campus, city and county leaders including university Vice President for Administration and Finance Carlo Colella, Mayor Patrick Wojahn and county Councilwoman Dannielle Glaros were just a few of the notable guests seen munching during the launch.
“There was great turnout for it,” Wojahn said. “There was a line extending around the block. It really brought the plaza there to life. To think about a year ago it was a long-abandoned building and now it’s a place where people can sit and eat … meet with friends.”
Amidst the long line of students was senior economics major Miranda Kadis, who said the trucks are an affordable alternative to campus eateries.
“I think it’s awesome,” Kadis said. “It’s definitely something we’ve been missing.”
She noted that while Green Tidings had been an option, she thought it was over-priced for students. Green Tidings is now closed indefinitely, according to a Sept. 1 Diamondback article.
Students weren’t the only ones waiting anxiously for quesadillas or chicken and waffles. Simone Livingston, a care manager at this university’s Counseling Center, also said she’s excited about the new eating options.
“It’s a good idea,” Livingston said. “It’s a lot of reasons why people travel to D.C. for a visit … It’s good alternative for lunch — you get tired of Potbelly a little bit after a while, so it’s just something a little bit different.”
Attracting a variety of patrons, whether it’s university staff, residents or students, is exactly what Engle and Q-Truck co-owner Chris Szeluga had in mind when they created their food truck.
“We wanted something that everyone that would love,” Engle said. “College students, faculty, staff, alumni … you want something that people would enjoy. We looked at food trucks in the local area … and no one really does a good quesadilla truck.”
There is an additional food truck hub located at the M-Square Research Park, which will host a maximum of four food trucks on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Route 1 location accommodates up to two food trucks Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight, with food truck options rotating from week to week. Those interested in viewing a schedule of which trucks will be vending can go here.
Turning this “dilapidated” site into a “pocket park” really brings a sense of community to this city, said Ken Ulman, chief economic development strategist for the university’s College Park Foundation.
“The fact that there are lines here, we’ve taken a … vacant building that was falling apart, and we’ve created a pocket park,” Ulman said. “Folks are really excited about this, and to top it all off to have student entrepreneurs running one of the trucks is really the cherry on top.”