Hermiston’s food truck pod experiment was such a success in its first year that the city is looking to expand it.
“I definitely think we should continue this,” city councilor Doug Primmer said. “It’s proven its worth.”
The city adopted a pilot program for the food truck pod in 2019, set to run from April 1 to Oct. 31 in the parking lot on Orchard Avenue across from the Hermiston Post Office. They provided garbage cans, a portable restroom and picnic tables, and Hermiston Energy Services installed a pole that provided lighting and electricity to trucks on the site.
City planner Clint Spencer told the council during their Monday meeting that the original goal was to have at least four trucks on site the entire summer, but they ended up having two to three there most of the time. However, for the trucks on site, the season ended up being so successful they asked to extend the season through the end of November.
Patick Hunt, who ran Southern Twain BBQ there, said he doubled his sales from when he was parked in Pendleton previously, and he no longer had to haul his truck to Pendleton from his Hermiston home.
“The community’s pumped about it,” he said. “They’re waiting for us to bring them more vendors.”
He said the main barrier to getting more trucks in was the lack of potable water and wastewater collection on site. A lot of vendors were interested until they were told they wouldn’t have those things, he said. He and Spencer also noted difficulties with getting customers to park in the lot across the street like they were supposed to, instead of pulling up to the trucks.
Hunt suggested that there might be some benefits to moving the pod somewhere like Butte Park, where they would be near the aquatic center, splash pad, Funland playground (once it’s rebuilt) and soccer fields.
Councilors said they considered the experiment a success, and supported continuing it in some form.
“It’s a testament of success that (Hunt) doubled his sales, and we had a local Hermistonian coming back and selling here,” Roy Barron said.
The question was whether to invest in water spigots and other more permanent amenities in the current site or look at moving the food pod somewhere else.
In the end councilors voted to reopen the food pod in its current location in April, giving them time to collect information and make a decision on creating some sort of nicer, more permanent site in the future.