Despite efforts from Duke Dining, the fate of lunchtime food trucks remains uncertain.
After learning that their previous location—behind Perkins Library, on Telecom Drive—was deemed a fire hazard, the lunchtime food trucks have yet to return to campus this semester. At their meeting Monday night, the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee debated possible solutions to the location dilemma. Members of DUSDAC discussed changes they would like to see in on-campus dining this semester.
“Lunchtime food trucks are no longer on campus at the moment,” senior and co-chair of DUSDSAC Chris Taylor said. “The location was not officially allowed by the fire marshal, but the trucks were not getting much traffic anyway, so we are hoping to look and see if there are other places.”
There has been a request put in for a spot in the parking lot of the Allen Building, said Director of Dining Robert Coffey. He noted that this location is more associated with being behind the Social Sciences building and has clear visibility from the quad.
Coffey also mentioned the pitfalls of last semester’s lunchtime food trucks, stating that they “struggled all the way through the semester.” Foster’s on the Fly said they could no longer come as they were losing too much money.
DUSDAC members were receptive to the idea of the spot in the Allen parking lot.
“If we were to get that spot, obviously we would market more,” Taylor said. “Another benefit [is] that we would not be encroaching much on other vendors as the other location was close to the Divinity School Refectory and Twinnie’s.”
Senior and co-chair of DUSDAC Caiti Slattery said that the location behind the Allen building would have a good amount of foot traffic because students who live on Central Campus walk past there on their way to West Campus. Junior and DUSDAC member Gregory Lahood added that the location would be close to Duke Hospital.
“Hopefully things go well getting this new location and if it does, we will be on top of marketing and getting the word out there,” Taylor said. “With 400 people back on campus this semester, that should help business.”
Taylor stated another goal for the semester was to help increase visibility for several food carts on campus. The Greek Devil cart has taken over the Au Bon Pain cart as of last semester. Taylor said that he is hoping the location helps the Greek Devil, since it serves a different kind of food than can be found in the Bryan Center—unlike the ABP cart that served the same food as the ABP in the Bryan Center.
Coffey added the Locopops cart will be coming back.
“We probably will not be adding any another cart with the current carts struggling so much,” Taylor said.
Coffey gave DUSDAC an update on West Union renovations, saying that the opening date “on the books” currently is Jan. 6, 2016.
“They are heavily into finishing up placements of everything in the building and talking about venues,” Coffey said, noting that DUSDAC might be involved with reviewing dining options for the venue.
Reflecting on concerns they had heard, several members of DUSDAC noted there is a lack of gluten-free options on campus. Members discussed adding more options to preexisting eateries and including new food trucks on the dining schedule with gluten-free focuses.
“Over the course of winter break, a gluten-free Vietnamese food truck opened,” Slattery said. “I know that people with dietary restrictions are quite skeptical of food trucks, but that could be good for next year.”
Slattery noted that DUSDAC would be sampling food trucks to add to the schedule for next year starting in two weeks.