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Will the Food Truck Rodeo go on? DUSDAC discusses calling off Friday's event due to inclement weather

To be or not to be? The Food Truck Rodeo slated for April 19 faces tough odds—100% projected likelihood of rain.

The Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee discussed the fate of the rodeo in light of inclement weather this upcoming Friday. Aris Marton, associate director of retail operations for Duke Dining, looked up the weather during the meeting and noted a high chance of rain and estimated 15-20 mph wind gusts.

“If it rains, will there be enough of a turnout for vendors to have a profit?” DUSDAC Co-Chair Aryaman Gupta, a junior, asked.

Marton also emphasized the importance of student and employee safety and noted how vendors would likely not want to drive if the weather is severe.

“By tomorrow morning, I’d say you need to make this call,” Marton said Wednesday night.

The Food Truck Rodeo has already had its funding slashed from its requested $8,000 to the $1,600 allotted by the Student Organization Financing Committee.

DUSDAC also reviewed the performance of food trucks and Merchants on Points between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. 

Gussy’s Greek Food Truck had the highest revenue of all food trucks, Marton explained, but was down in sales overall. She attributed its success to factors such as the vendor’s presence on campus for more than a dozen years and being able to add multiple sides for customers to “get more bang for [their] buck.” 

American Meltdown, Qspresso, Holy Moly Cannoli and Soomsoom Pita Pockets—which took over for Bam Pow Chow—had increased sales, but Napoli was down from last year. 

DUSDAC Co-Chair Ethan Kwok, a senior, proposed adding Bamboo Cookhouse and Arepa Culture as future food trucks, as DUSDAC is aiming for eight for the upcoming year.

“We want a concentrated selection of the best we have to offer,” Gupta said.

The Merchant on Points with the highest revenue was Domino’s, but like the highest for food trucks, it was also down in sales overall. 

Marton furthered that the Loop had the greatest growth in delivery from last year, and that the vendor will be “the first test for mobile pickup” with the ability to pay on mobile next year.

“It should be active and working in the Fall,” Marton said.

DUSDAC also discussed the business of other Merchants on Points, like Sushi Love, Dragon Gate and Papa John's, and considered adding Devil’s Pizzeria, Naan Stop and Vine Sushi.

Marton also mentioned how Zweli’s Kitchen will be coming to Duke as a guest chef next Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. She noted that they also might be another option for a new Merchant on Points if they are interested and the event goes well.

In other business:

Junior Allie Rauch and sophomore Annie Roberts were named next year’s DUSDAC co-chairs. Roberts discussed how during her two years on DUSDAC, she has witnessed DUSDAC take on a more professional role with vendors and being able to meet with many food trucks during meetings. 

“I think what we do has a lot more impact on students than one might think,” Rauch said.

Update: The Food Truck Rodeo was canceled Thursday morning. In a post to the Facebook event, Kwok explained the reasons behind the cancelation.

"Due to the inclement weather, DUSDAC and Duke Dining were very concerned with student safety, truck safety, and low turnouts with the forecasted severe thunderstorms and chance of tornadoes," Kwok wrote.


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