Off The Grid food truck fest to launch on Telegraph Avenue

Off The Grid North Shattuck, which takes place every Wednesday, has proved immensely popular. Photo: Art Poskanzer/Creative Commons

Off The Grid, the popular gathering of food trucks that has already proved a hit in North Berkeley, will launch on Telegraph Avenue on Thursday, July 12.

Just like the North Shattuck Wednesday food fest, “Off The Grid: South Side Berkeley on Telegraph” will feature a rotating selection of eight to ten food trucks every Thursday night. They will be located on Haste Street, just west of Telegraph, and the area will be closed to traffic for the duration of the event which runs from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Along with the trucks, some seating, lights and music will be provided.

Matt Cohen, founder of Off The Grid, says he sees the new market as complementary to the one in the Gourmet Ghetto as it will feature few of the same trucks. He hopes it will appeal to students and families in particular, and help bring foot traffic to an area that has had its share of problems.

“We have had a great experience in Berkeley,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to appeal to a new group of potential consumers and serve a need.” Cohen added that he had been enthusiastic when the conversations about launching the event started up in the wake of the devastating Sequoia Building fire in November 2011 which laid waste to the northwest lot at Telegraph and Haste.


Telegraph Off The Grid had hoped to launch on June 28, but the city requires that the food trucks be inspected if they are participating in a new event, and this has delayed the opening. In addition, it was decided that launching the event after the Fourth of July holiday would be sensible, according to an Off The Grid spokesperson.

Cohen said there will be little duplication with the trucks that serve the Gourmet Ghetto, which, he says tends to draw customers from El Cerrito, Albany, and Emeryville, as well as Berkeley. “While those trucks lean towards the artisanal, the ones on Telegraph will be more value-oriented,” he said.

Vendors who have already signed up include: Southern Sandwich, Old World Food Truck, Sunrise Deli, Hapa SF (which also serves North Shattuck), the Crème Brûlée Man, El Sur empanada truck, and Seňor Sisig.

The intersection of Telegraph and Haste is currently something of a wasteland with three of its corners abandoned. The northeast side, owned by Ken Sarachan, has been vacant ever since the Berkeley Inn burned down in 1990; the Sequoia Building on the northwest corner, owned by the Ent family, burned down in November 2011; and the southwest corner retail space that housed the popular Cody’s bookstore, also owned by Sarachan, has been empty since Cody’s closed in 2006.

The advent of Telegraph Off The Grid could provide a boost to local retailers that have been badly hit by the Sequoia fire and the series of vacancies on the street.

Off The Grid, the brainchild of Cohen, started operating in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto in June 2011. Last month it launched its second food truck market outside San Francisco in Alameda on Saturdays. Off The Grid has a total of 18 markets and is known to be scouting further locations in the East Bay, including in Oakland.

Related:
Local food names sign up for Off The Grid truck in Berkeley [10.19.11]
Off The Grid to launch street food event in Berkeley [05.17.11]
Crowds turn out for Berkeley’s inaugural Off The Grid [06.02.11]
Saul’s to cook street food at Berkeley’s Off The Grid [06.07.11]
The verdict is in: Berkeley’s best ice cream (and gelato) [07.27.11]
Chez Panisse chef opens butcher shop in Berkeley [08.26.11]
Why does the street food scene bypass Berkeley? [10.18.10]

To find out what is going on in Berkeley and nearby, be sure to check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.