As summer comes to a close, so does Food Truck Friday.
The seasonal event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., allow students and members of the community to try food from local businesses in the parking lot of the Central Michigan University Research Cooperation.
As the penultimate Friday approaches, the final date on Sept. 30 will showcase all the winners from the previous 17 weeks of business.
Each event this summer typically saw two local food trucks face each other in a competition to determine which would be that week’s champion. Last week, the food fight between Famous Dogs Food Truck and Whole Shot Coffee ended prematurely. Famous Dogs was unable to attend due to mechanical failures.
CMURC Office Coordinator Jenny McDonald said the weekly contestants are chosen based on how new they are to the food truck business.
“Usually it’s any of our newer vendors (who compete), and we try to pair them together with trucks similar to them,” she said. “Since it’s coming down to our final weeks, it can be harder to find vendors that are completely compatible.”
Vendors not competing can also participate.
In addition to Whole Shot Coffee, vendors at the Sept. 19 Food Truck Friday included Chase’s Place, which specializes in burgers, Who Doesn’t like Pizza?, longtime contestant Killer Hibachi and former champions Soul Sista’s.
Whole Shot Coffee was founded in the spring of 2016 by Midland-native Melissa DeGraw. New to the food truck business, DeGraw was approached by CMURC to participate in Food Truck Fridays after attending the Midland Farmers Market.
“They sent me a couple of emails over the summer asking if I was interested, but I felt so new to it all that I was sort of nervous,” she said. “I decided to give it a shot, and it’s been fun. Everybody here has been really kind. All of the workers and other vendors have been nice and very interesting to talk to.”
Weather permitting, DeGraw plans on shutting down the truck in November when eating outside becomes less popular. She’ll return to her job as a veterinary technician through the winter months, and plans to reopen Whole Shot in the spring.
For every newcomer like DeGraw, Food Truck Friday also hosts food-industry veterans like the staff of Who Doesn’t Like Pizza?, which won the Food Truck Friday championship in the third week with its specialty wood-fire pizza.
The pizza-specialized truck is run by John and Valerie Reynolds. Their catering business has served the Mid-Michigan community for more than eight years, though the truck itself is only one year old.
The idea to expand their catering business into the realm of food trucks started when John read about the business idea in a magazine.
“We do weddings and graduations, anything your average caterer does. This (truck) is just the latest adventure,” he said. “Our plans for the future are like this: more pizza, less catering. This is a lot quicker and more fun than doing a 300-person wedding.”
The variety of dining options and the friendly atmosphere of the event make Food Truck Friday an attraction for many people within the community.
Though this is only his second week attending the event, senior Dylan Hency plans on attending to as many Food Truck Fridays as he can.
“Both weeks have been phenomenal,” the Oxford native said. “I’ve been very satisfied. I live in Lexington Apartments, so it’s always really convenient to come.”
Dylan was accompanied by Waterford senior Erica Heintz, who was attending for the first time.
“The food is bomb,” she said. “It tastes amazing, and (Killer Hibachi) reminds me of Mongolian BBQ, it’s that good.”