Berkeley’s only Off the Grid food truck market will be holding its last event Feb. 28. The pod, which serves dinner on Sundays at the North Berkeley BART station, has been in operation for just over two years. It announced the news on its Facebook page on Feb. 12.
The market opened after its original North Berkeley location in the Gourmet Ghetto was closed after the city decided it was having a detrimental effect on local brick-and-mortar food businesses and property owners. That market was very popular, drawing hundreds of visitors every week. The reason for the closure of the North Berkeley BART market is unknown. Nosh reached out to Off The Grid’s founder Matt Cohen but had not heard back at press time.
Off the Grid also hosted a Berkeley food truck market at Telegraph and Haste from July 2012 to March 2014. When the San Francisco-based Off The Grid pulled the plug on that market, Roland Peterson, then director of the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District, said it had suffered a steady decline in the number of customers after its launch, many of whom were UC Berkeley students.
Berkeley’s apparent inability to retain a food truck market for long stands in contrast to other Bay Area cities where the food truck organization has pods. A number have launched in the East Bay in the recent years: 1000 Oak St. which operates as part of the Friday Night program at the Oakland Museum of California; the Uptown Oakland market at Williams Street and Telegraph Avenue; Public Market and 1333 Park Ave. in Emeryville; South Shore Center in Alameda; and Fairmont Avenue and Carlson Boulevard in El Cerrito; as well as pods in Walnut Creek, Concord, Fremont, Hayward and Pleasanton.
The City of Berkeley has not historically been particularly welcoming to food trucks due to a combination of bureaucratic red tape and vocal brick-and-mortar restaurant owners who oppose what they say is unfair competition. The city has particularly stringent rules regarding permitting for food trucks. Speaking Tuesday about a rally protesting the imminent departure of three food trucks on Bancroft Avenue, Jordan Klein from Berkeley’s economic development department, admitted the relevant code and process was “meticulous.” “The city has to be deliberate and considerate when it comes to what makes for a healthy community,” he said. “And we need to listen to local stakeholders.”
The College and Bancroft trucks, which include the popular Heavenly Healthy Foods, signed a contract that requires them to leave the location at the end of March after local businesses and the adjacent UC Berkeley made it clear they did not want them there.
In its Facebook message about the last remaining OTG food truck market, the organization posted: “It’s been a pleasure at North Berkeley and we hope you will join us before we close.”
Bancroft Way food trucks’ days are numbered (11.04.15)
Off the Grid food truck market to Walnut Creek (7.2.15)
Off The Grid launches Emeryville food truck market (08.19.14)
Off The Grid launches Uptown Oakland food truck market (07.09.14)
Off The Grid pulls plug on Southside Berkeley market (03.17.14)
Off The Gird food trucks launch new food trucks market (02.04.14)
Off The Grid aims for new North Berkeley digs (11.05.13)
Off The Grid says goodbye to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto (12.20.12)
Off The Grid’s Telegraph Ave. debut attracts young crowds (07.13.12)
Off The Grid launches in Oakland for museum nights (01.09.13)
Off The Grid food truck fest to launch on Telegraph Avenue (06.22.12)
Local food names sign up for Berkeley Off The Grid truck (10.19.11)
Crowds turn out for Berkeley’s inaugural Off The Grid (06.02.11)
More local food trucks join Berkeley’s first Off The Grid (05.31.11)
Off The Grid to launch street food event in Berkeley (05.17.11)