Off the Grid aims for new North Berkeley digs

Off the Grid took place in the Gourmet Ghetto from June 2011 through December 2012. Photo: Art Poskanzer
Off the Grid took place in the Gourmet Ghetto from June 2011 through December 2012. Photo: Art Poskanzer

The popular food truck event Off the Grid may be headed back to North Berkeley if a deal pending between the organization and BART is successful, officials announced Monday.

According to a statement released by Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office Monday, “An agreement with BART is developing to have food trucks at the North Berkeley BART called ‘Off the Grid.'”

Off the Grid had a home in the Gourmet Ghetto from June 2011 through December 2012. The city ultimately decided to call it off at that location, citing its impact on local brick and mortar businesses and property owners, and because of roadwork planned for Shattuck Avenue and Rose Street, where the event was held.

The hugely popular street food gathering drew an estimated 1,500 people to enjoy on-the-go edibles from the likes of Brass Knuckle, Fiveten Burger, Liba Falafel and the CupKates Truck. But it didn’t work for everyone.

Said Michael Caplan, economic development director for the city of Berkeley, when the event shut down: “What was meant to be a special event became a competitive challenge for some existing brick and mortar stores.” Caplan said he had spoken to local restaurants who were losing $1,000 worth of business every Wednesday night. “One business owner said to me, ‘How would you feel if you saw your sales drop by a significant percentage on 50 days of the year?’” he said.


Off the Grid has continued to run an event on the south side of the Cal campus, at Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, Mondays from 5-8 p.m.

The new North Berkeley event would take place Sundays from 5-9 p.m., potentially starting as early as the first quarter of 2014. Winter hours would likely be shorter, according to the statement.

Maio’s office said the idea would be to use the “open space to create a place for people to meet while focusing on chef-driving small business.” Eight to 12 mobile food vehicles would be on site each week.

Alcohol would not be served at the event, which would take place rain or shine, year round.

“The market will rotate vendors on a consistent bi-weekly basis in order to keep things fresh and interesting, as well as offer an opportunity to maximize truck participation,” according to the statement.


All Off the Grid markets have at least two staff members, a market manager and an event staffer, on site at all times “to maintain the space, problem solve if issues occur, (and) handle set up, breakdown and cleanup at the event conclusion. Their goal is to create spaces that encourage neighborhood interaction, activation of outdoor eating spaces and provide value priced high quality food items in a family friendly environment.”

Councilwoman Maio’s office asks anyone with concerns or feedback about Off the Grid at the North Berkeley BART to pass them on to her via email, at LMaio@ci.berkeley.ca.us, or by phone, at 510-981-7110.

Related:
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 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)

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