Food trucks join Durham Bulls

Jul. 09, 2013 @ 02:48 PM

DURHAM — Fans at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Wednesday night will be able to watch the game while munching on crêpes, dumplings or cupcakes.

The ballpark will unite the love of baseball with the love of food at its first-ever Food Truck Fest, which will feature eight local food trucks during a 7:05 p.m. game against the Charlotte Knights.
The eight food trucks, which will be on the Diamond View concourse, include Only Burger, BaguettAboutIt, Sweet Stacey Cakes, Chirba Chirba, The Humble Pig, American Meltdown, Parlez-Vous Crêpe and Porchetta.
Scott Carter, director of marketing for the Durham Bulls, said the event came from a desire to bring together two of the city’s favorite things — food trucks and the Bulls.
“Really being here in downtown Durham it’s impossible not to notice how popular the food truck rodeos have become,” Carter said.
Carter said that he first contacted Only Burger to discuss doing the event, since owner Brian Bottger has organized previous food truck rodeos.
Bottger said he spoke with Carter about how to get a suitable power supply for all the trucks and recommended a few professional local food trucks.
The athletic park’s regular concessions, which include Bright Leaf hotdogs, Papa John’s Pizza and Moe’s Southwest Grill, will still be available to fans.
Carter said the park chose to do the fest on a Wednesday because it’s a slower day, and the park wanted to attract people who might not be big baseball fans.
“(We’re) trying to get some new blood into the ballpark, some new fans. … A lot of (the food) is stuff that we don’t serve here,” Carter said.
He said a percentage of the food trucks’ Wednesday sales will go to Centerplate, the concessions operator at the park, but that the trucks will keep the majority of their sales.
Patricia Vomacka, events coordinator for Only Burger, said the presence of concession stands will make this event different from food truck rodeos.
“We’re not looking at this as a huge money-maker for ourselves. It’s just an experiment and a way to support our Durham Bulls and our city,” Vomacka said, adding that it was also a chance for Only Burger to get more exposure.
Bottger said that Only Burger will be raising its prices Wednesday to help make up for some of what the food truck will lose in paying the concessions.
He said he doesn’t know how much the truck will sell Wednesday, but he’ll be ready.
“I’m not saying that I don’t have high hopes, but it’s really hard to say with all the other concessions there,” Bottger said. “Assuming there’s a good game and a good crowd … I don’t see why we wouldn’t do well.”
“I’m hoping that the same people that don’t mind eating food from ballpark don’t mind eating food from a food truck,” he added.
Chela Tu, co-owner of Chirba Chirba, a dumplings food truck, said she expects that the combination of the Durham Bulls and food trucks will draw a large crowd.
“I think people will be excited to choose things like dumplings over hot dogs and nachos,” she said.
Tu said that when Chirba Chirba was featured in an episode of “My Family Recipe Rocks” at the beginning of 2012, the show introduced Durham as a place known for tobacco, the Durham Bulls and its food scene.
She thinks combining two of those traits will make for a successful event, she said.
“Just the fact that we’re all lumped together and that that’s what makes Durham cool is really interesting,” Tu said.
The fest will only be available to ticket-holders of Wednesday’s game, Carter said. In the case of rain, he said the park would try to reschedule the fest.
Carter said that if the Food Truck Fest is successful, it could become a more regular occurrence, possibly happening several times a year.
“The plan is to see how this one goes, and if it’s a success well certainly look for ways to grow it and get more involved,” he said.