Meals on Wheels
Susan Pollara has been a Hopewell resident and community volunteer since 2005. However, she is a lifelong foodie. She enjoys trying new cuisines and dishes as much as possible. She also loves to support local entrepreneurs. On June 23rd, Pollara will once again combine these passions through Food Truck Friday.
Taking place from 5-9PM on the grounds of the train station in Hopewell, Food Truck Friday is an event for everybody in and around Hopewell to come and taste both new flavors and old favorites. 11 Trucks, ranging from Italian dishes to barbeque, will be lining up at Railroad Place and will serve countless type of dishes.
The event has held bi-annually since the summer of 2014, when Pollara first discovered food truck events and decided to try it out. “I love this town and I really wanted more variety of food. There’s so many creative trucks out there, so I thought it would be really fun to try and bring some. The Hopewell Borough Recreational Committee was totally supportive,” Pollara said.
Surprisingly, Pollara had never been to a food truck fest before starting her own, but “knew that it could be really fun. And Adam Brown, who started the Surf and Turf Truck, was really helpful in thinking about the logistics and introducing me to the local trucks that first year,” she continued.
Past her love for food, Pollara’s understanding of Food Truck Friday’s economic benefit has driven her to continue and expand the event. “I’m a community volunteer on the town’s Economic Development Committee, and Food Truck Friday is a great way to have new folks come to our town, see how wonderful it is, and come back to do their shopping and dining,” Pollara said.
“It’s a nice event for people who live in Hopewell Borough, but it’s a great event for those who are curious about what’s here, as they can really get a taste of how great our town is, and hopefully come back,” she continued.
Along with Brown, Pollara had other help starting the event. “The Hopewell Borough Recreation Committee is really helpful in hosting it, as is Roxanne Klett, my ‘partner-in-crime.’ I organize the food trucks and she gets the music and helps promote it,” Pollara said. This June, the music will be a live performance from “devil bluesy jam rock band” Ten Foot Tall.
When the event was first held, organizers were shocked by the attendance. “We had no idea what to expect; we were hoping for around 500 people, and we got probably double or triple that. It’s surely packed, and it’s a wonderful community event. The trucks are always happy with the turnout!”
For an event of such proportions, Pollara had relatively few obstacles, which she credits to her team’s effort and town’s support. However, “what was hard in the beginning was dealing with the crowd, as the lines were really long.”
To deal with overcrowding, Pollara added more trucks. “The first time, I think we only had 5 trucks. Now we’ve learned what the right balance is, and we have 11 trucks and work really hard not to duplicate. I work with food truck vendors to help them understand how to deal with the crowd, and they do a great job.”
The trucks vary in both location and cuisine. “We love to support our local food trucks, like Nomad Pizza, Antimo’s, Italian Kitchen, and Four Daughters Frank. We also have trucks that are from Princeton and Kingston and Somerset, and sometimes from Philadelphia. This year, we have more trucks than ever before! We having exciting new ones, like Jammin’ Crepes and My Four Suns,” Pollara said.
Everyone seems to enjoy the event for various reasons. During our interview, Pollara’s children joined in and gave their opinion on what makes Food Truck Friday so great. “I enjoy everything. It’s all fun, and all of your friends come and it’s one big playtime for everyone to see each other and talk to each other,” said 11-year old Ben Pollara.
“There so many kids, and all my friends come and you get to play and run around,” added 9-year old Max.
All the attendees also have their own favorite trucks. While Ben’s favorite is Oink and Moo BBQ, Max enjoys Four Daughters Frank.
Though the expand has been continuously expanding, Pollara and her team have kept the event in the same location due to the great environment. “(The train station grounds) are great setting. There’s a curved driveway where the trucks lineup, and its surrounded by a playground and lots of green grass. We set up tables and chairs but people also bring their blankets and sit out on the lawn for hours, listening to music and eating. It’s just really ideal. It’s also very walkable from all parts of the Borough. For those that don’t live in Hopewell, there’s parking available at Somerset Street, so it’s very convenient,” Pollara said.
Furthermore, the shops near Railroad Place receive more business as a result of Food Truck Friday. “People (often visit) Broad Street, the main street that runs through Hopewell Borough. There’s a lot of shops that people can wander around to see. There’s other restaurants if people want to have a snack or a proper meal. There’s a lot of options,” Pollara said.
And, though there seems to be obvious demand for such an event, Pollara intends to keep it focused on the town, as she believes local support is vital to the event’s success. “It’s very definitely a Hopewell event, since everyone is so supportive: the mayor, the borough administration, and everyone that works for the borough, like the maintenance crew,” she said.
Outside of Food Truck Friday and volunteering, Pollara has plenty on her plate. She works full time for YourCause, a software company based in Dallas, Texas, that connects corporations to nonprofit organizations. In November, she was also elected to the Hopewell Valley School Board. Her husband, Nick Pollara, is a consultant and engineering.
For more information on Food Truck Friday, please visit: http://www.foodtruck-friday.com
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