Two food trucks lined the parking lot at Hickory Creek Barrens and hundreds packed the nature preserve for the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s fourth installment of Food Truck Fridays held July 28 in New Lenox.
Area residents sat at picnic tables and in lawn chairs to listen to music, eat dinner from the food trucks and monitor their children as they tried their hand at playing bags.
“[The event’s] wildly successful,” said Ben Hecke, the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s community partnerships and outreach coordinator. “We were expecting 100, maybe 150 people a night.”
The event, Hecke said, has served as many as 550 to 600 people on average.
“We saw the popularity of these in other parts of the country,” he said. “I used to travel a lot with work. I’d be in D.C., I’d be in San Francisco. I saw how popular these were, so we wanted to bring that experience here to Will County in an intimate setting to bring people out who want to come this, realize what we have to offer, and then they’ll start to come to some of our other events, as well. [We’re] really broadening what we’re trying to do.”
Hecke said the event provides “that hook” they aim to use to draw in residents to participate in Forest Preserve District of Will County programming.
“We know that the trucks are the show and that’s why people are out, so we try to passively give them information about what we do,” he said.
This time around, the event featured food truck stops by Ofrenda Contemporary Gordita and Best Truckin’ BBQ.
Amy Sperling, of Mokena, sat at a picnic table eating the food she purchased from Ofrenda Contemporary Gordita.
“I just bit into the pork,” she said. “It’s really good. It’s really flavorful. “
Amy’s husband, Jedd Sperling, said he is glad they decided to drop in.
“We always watch the food shows and everything, so we keep an eye on food trucks and everywhere they’re going,” he said.
Amy said the event does a good job of bringing her family together.
“It’s date night,” she said.
Ernesto and Fernando Torres, the owners of Ofrenda Contemporary Gordita, set up shop at Food Truck Fridays for the second time this summer. Their menu consisted of a number of Mexican-inspired dishes, including blue agave tacos, adobada tacos and Tijuana tacos.
“It’s always a pleasure coming out,” Ernesto said of the event’s appeal. “You know you’re going to come out here and work for a couple hours hard.”
Fernando shared that sentiment.
“It’s just a consistent rush with trying to get food out as fast as you can and everyone enjoying everything,” he said. “[We’ve] been getting great positive feedback.”
Ernesto said by sheer numbers, it appears people really enjoyed one menu item in particular.
“The most popular would be my personal favorite, which is the blue agave taco,” he said. “It’s a tequila-marinated steak with pico de gallos and grated cheese on top.”
Fernando agreed. The reason for the demand for the blue agave tacos, he said, is easy to pinpoint.
“You typically can’t go wrong with steak and tequila,” he said.
Ernesto said the secret to their tacos is simple.
“Honestly, it’s the time we put into it,” he said. “We start at five in the morning to prep, and we’re not done until 10 o’clock at night. We’re putting in the work. [We] always got to do something good. [We] don’t want to just throw something out there to somebody. [We] definitely [like to] have people get that experience.”
The Forest Preserve District of Will County intends to roll out another round of Food Truck Fridays next summer.
“This is what they want,” Hecke said. “We want to bring what people want to the community.”