Keep on food truckin’: PhillyMFA event supports Fishtown’s LSH

The idea of grabbing food when you’re on the go is hardly a new one. Lately in Philly though, it’s your food that’s on the go, traveling in food trucks that have been popping up on many a street corner.

Thanks to the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (PhillyMFA), Fishtown got a yummy taste of this forward-thinking food phenomenon last weekend, with a charitable bonus to boot.

On Friday, May 4 at 6 p.m., PhillyMFA brought four local food trucks to the parking lot of Lutheran Settlement House, at 1340 Frankford Ave., as part of its first “pop-up” food truck event. Patrick O’Rourke, who coordinates marketing and communications for PhillyMFA, said that there was a constant in-and-out of about 100 people at the pop-up, and all of them were hungry.

“Pitruco Pizza served 85 pizzas in the first 80 minutes,” O’Rourke said. “That’s a good indicator of the volume.”

PhillyMFA, formed in December, had arranged for four trucks (the owners of which are members of the organization) to provide sweet and savory grub to the assembled crowd. Patrons noshed on fare from Pitruco, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Spot Burgers and Zea May’s Kitchen, which dished up Native American inspired cuisine.

The group, which seeks to provide low-cost eating alternatives and enrich Philly communities, donated 10 percent of the proceeds from the pop-up to the Lutheran Settlement House. The House’s services include an adult literacy program, transitional housing, senior services and a bilingual domestic violence program.

Erika Tapp, development manager at Lutheran Settlement House, said that PhillyMFA approached them as a potential space for the event, and it was “a natural fit” that LSH was very enthusiastic about.

“We’re looking to engage a lot more with the neighborhood, and this event fits really beautifully with what we’re trying to do,” she said. “It’s a great idea.”

Andrew Gerson, founder and board member of PhillyMFA, said that along with increasing neighborhood safety and supporting the business community, trucks provide people with a relaxed, low-cost eating environment.

“What these pop-ups are for is bringing people together,” he said. “It’s less expensive than bars, and it’s something new and fresh for the summer.”

O’Rourke said that Fishtown was a great neighborhood for such an event.

“It’s so much fun…the people of Fishtown are so lively. They had their dogs and kids, and a good vibe on.”

O’Rourke said that more events are in the works, and PhillyMFA is certainly open to the idea of returning to Fishtown and other river wards neighborhoods.

He’s confident that food trucks’ presence is much more than a fad.

“People with brick-and-mortar restaurants are having trucks now,” he said. “They make more profit that way.”

“At first there was a restaurant versus food trucks divide,” he said. “I think that divide is just going to go away.”

He mentioned that at one point during the pop-up a well-dressed couple pulled up in a taxi, clearly on a date.

“That’s when I thought,” he said, “We are officially a destination.”

To keep up with PhillyMFA, visit phillymfa.com.

Managing Editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215–354–3113 or mjamison@bsmphilly.com