Tulsa Food Truck Festival or: The Day That Angie Johnson’s Food Truck Ruined My Life

By on October 3, 2012

Last weekend was packed with options and exciting ways to spend time and money supporting small local businesses. A friend and I planned our Saturday carefully: lunch at the festival, then down to the Brady district for the Indie Emporium, followed by drinks/dessert somewhere nearby if time permitted before 4pm, when we both needed to be at work.

We rolled up to the festival around 12:30, found a parking spot and almost skipped with excitement toward the trucks. The first thing I noticed was the glaring absence of the Lone Wolf bahn mi truck. Funny – I’d just read an article in Wednesday’s Tulsa World, singing the praises of Phillip Phillips’ new truck and promising that his delicious Vietnamese sandwiches would be available for all to enjoy at the Food Truck Festival. Ah, well – plans change after press releases are made, I suppose.

A quick survey of the remaining options led us to Angie’s Street Eats, a truck operated by Angie Johnson, chef/owner of Eats2U Catering. The menu looked promising enough to entice us to stand in line for upwards of 45 minutes just to order. They were understaffed, that much was clear – there was a gentleman taking orders and just Johnson inside cooking. But the line was moving steadily forward and so we stayed the course. Our order was taken, payment rendered and it was off to the sidelines to wait.

After about 20 minutes, it became clear that there was a problem – the gentleman out front stopped taking orders and instead turned to fussing around with the arrangement of disposable cutlery and napkins on a table. He got himself some water, went in and out of the truck several times, ostensibly to converse with Johnson, and generally just avoided contact with the ever-increasingly discontent throngs of customers.

Let me pause here to be clear – I do not have a problem with busy food trucks (or restaurants, for that matter) taking a long time to fulfill orders. What I do have a problem with is a basic lack of preparation, planning and communication. More on that in a minute.

Order fulfillment had ground almost to a halt at this point and we continued to wait. One after another, customers approached the order taker and inquired about their food. Informed that the wait would continue, many asked for their money back and left, hungry and disgruntled. My friend and I decided to hang on a while longer. Our wait was approaching the 45 minute mark.

At about 60 minutes, we saw the person ahead of us in line receive food. Excited that (finally!) it was almost our turn, we moved to the front. At this point, the order taker turned to me and asked if I was Aubrae. I answered that I was, to which he replied, “Your order was next, but we ran out of taco product. As soon as he gets back from the store we can make your food.” I was incredulous. We ordered four items, only one of which was tacos. Had it not occurred to them to make the non-taco items in the meantime? To let us know what the holdup was? Or, better, to inform us of the shortage and give us the option to change the order? I asked if they could make the other three menu items and refund our money for the tacos. He did so and at 2:40, a full 2 hours and 10 minutes after arriving at the festival and 1 hour and 25 minutes after placing it, we received our order of: split pea hummus with veggies, black bean sliders and sweet potato fries. Good food? Sure. Worth the wait. Absolutely not.

I’ve run highly successful food trucks in two cities, Seattle and Oklahoma City. While the road is not always smooth, there are a few basic guidelines that will make your life easier and your customers happier:

1. If your menu items take an excessive amount of à la minute preparation, they are not well suited to a food truck. I’d suggest things that can predominantly be made/prepped ahead of time and merely assembled on site, or that can be cooked on site in large-ish batches prior to the actual order.

2. If you’re going to a show-and-sell, or any situation where the number of customers is unknown, as is the case with a festival in its inaugural year, it is wise to overstaff as a precautionary measure. Extra staff can always be sent home early, but not produced at a moment’s notice when you find yourself in the weeds.

3. If you run into a situation in which you are running low on product or know that orders will take much, much longer than is reasonable to produce, let. your. customers. know. Communication is key.

4. If you advertise that you’re going to be somewhere, especially in print media, which cannot be corrected as quickly/easily as a FB or Twitter feed, you’d better show up.

5. And, most important, do not commit to an event if you’re not ready or able to perform at top capacity – the people you piss off through poor service & execution will most certainly spread the word, far wider and more forcefully than any person whom you please.

Footnote:
We left the festival around 3 pm, decided it best to bail on the Indie Emporium, as after the drive we’d be left with only about 30 min to peruse, and hit the bar to wash the bitter taste of disappointment from our mouths before reporting to work. Here’s to next year… maybe.

Aubrae Filipiak: Author

I have always loved restaurants.

As a kid, I would beg to go out to eat almost every night. It was something about the spectacle of it all that got me hooked – the sequence of service unfolding like a plot, four meals hitting the table simultaneously, the servers moving lithely among tables packed with chattering guests. The food was almost an afterthought.

My first job was as a waitress in a small Mexican restaurant at age 16. I’d been bitten by the bug and I’ve never looked back. Fast forward more years than I’d like to admit and I am a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and have made a career out of working in restaurants around the country. The food’s much more important to me now, but the spectacle still has the power to captivate me.

Now, let’s eat!

About Aubrae Filipiak

31 Comments

  1. Chris

    October 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I’m glad I didn’t go- I have heard nothing but complaints about the lines, lack of food, and overall disappointment

  2. Jeremiah

    October 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    We were disappointed too. But it was a last minute throw together. Poor preparation by the trucks and not “expecting such a huge turnout”. Hopefully next year will be better. This is their first year. There will be more trucks. And the trucks will know exactly what to expect next time….I hope.

    As far as Lone Wolf, they had electrical issues and posted about having those issues a week before the festival. They’re finally back on track now though and will be at the Fassler Hall Oktoberfest party both nights this coming weekend. Along with Mr Nice Guys too.

    • Aubrae

      October 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      I wish I’d been following Lone Wolf’s FB feed before the festival – they were about 90% of the reason we decided to go and had I seen that they were down for the count I probably would have skipped it!

      • Angela

        October 4, 2012 at 8:42 am

        I think the title is a little harsh~sounds like you have a personal problem w/the owner of this food truck. Just because the owner/business ruined your “day”, doesn’t mean you have to attack the owner personally in the title for hundreds to see. This could ruin someones livelyhood, not just one day’s lunch. Do you see what I mean?

        • Matthew

          October 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

          While saying a bad culinary experience ruined your “life” is a bit much, what else about her review was inaccurate? I find it spot on. She had FAR more patience and restraint than I would’ve had. Perhaps she should’ve said the experience “ruined my Saturday”.

        • Colin

          October 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

          Angela, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes the reality of a situation might sting a little bit. Thank you Aubrae for the honest review. You have way more patience than I do. Waiting over an hour for food from a food truck deserves some type of medal.

  3. dancinhomer

    October 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

    You are much more patient than I. Five minutes of waiting is acceptable, ten minutes is maximum. Life is too short to waste that kind of time when this town is bursting with great food options.

  4. Lone Wolf Banh Mi

    October 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

    WOW! Hour waits anywhere are completely unacceptable, especially out of a truck. Sorry things didn’t run smoothly, especially sorry we weren’t there! We had engine problems and electrical issues to fix. We are back up and as Jeremiah said, we will be at Fassler halls Oktoberfest street party this Friday and Saturday night! 8pm to 2am is when the trucks are setting up. Us, Mr. Nice Guy, and Fasslers sausage truck. Come try a few different trucks that weren’t at the festival.

  5. Angela

    October 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Matthew & Colin,

    The review may be fair~all business’s have bad days. I just think the title is way too harsh, and seems to attack the owner personally. She could have used the name of the business at least…or picked a general title that didn’t mention any of them, especially if it was a review of all the food trucks. It seems as though she’s trying to ruin the business by attacking it like that in the title, especially. That’s all.

    • pnut

      October 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Agreed. For the writer to understand:
      Tulsa Food Truck Review or: The Day That Aubrae Filipiak’s Article Ruined My Life

      Sets a different tone when you use someone’s name in the title.

  6. Aubrae

    October 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    The title was originally posted incompletely, due to a miscommunication with the moderator of this site. It has been corrected now.

    It is hyperbolic and was written to draw attention – both through its OBVIOUS exaggeration of fact (of course my LIFE was not ruined by a food truck) and through its nod to one of my favorite Kubrick films, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

    I was not reviewing all the food trucks, as I didn’t order/eat from any others, just the one.

    And lastly, the name of Angie’s food truck is Angie’s Street Eats. So it is she who chose to for her name to be a part of the trucks name, I’m just following suit.

    @Lone Wolf – I’m working most of the weekend, but will do my best to make it out. I’m salivating at the mere thought of Tofu Bahn Mi and Kimchi Fries!!!

    • Shawna

      October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Ruined your life….. Wow sister I feel for you if a day at a food truck can ruin your life. Maybe you should focus on getting a one. Really??

      • Callie

        October 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

        My thoughts exactly.

  7. Jim loggin

    October 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I had been patiently waiting for the weekend to attend the food truck festival. Saturday, my wife and I arrived at the TASM at about 1:30pm. After checking out the four food trucks that were there we decided to try the rib-eye sliders from Angie Johnsons truck. It did take quite a while to get our order taken and there were some obvious issues with wait times and organization. It did take close to 50 minutes from order to receipt of food which was too long, but I really did want to try the food. The sliders were very good. The meat was very tender and the horseradish sauce really enhanced the overall flavors. I know from observing the people at the event that many were frustrated with the wait times. My personal feeling is to give it another chance. Anyone can have a bad day or fail to anticipate the volume of people for an event………hopefully it is a lesson learned and they are better prepared next time!

  8. Callie

    October 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Perhaps the writer of this article should stick to cooking for someone else and not critisizing entreprenuers. My only hope is that the writer is just immature and no one takes him/her seriously. Most educated, well informed people have tolerance. Sounds like Aubrae is neither…

    • Colin

      October 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Give me a break. There’s a reason not all entrepreneurs succeed. Your reasoning would mean that if you are an entrepreneur, you are above criticism. That’s ridiculous. If you want to run a business, you should be held to the same standards you expect from any other business. Go wait in line for an hour at Wal-Mart, QT, Starbucks, or Taco Bueno and see how you like that. If that happened at those businesses, they wouldn’t be in business. Reading your comment tells me that you are the person that you are accusing Aubrae of being. Interesting.

      • Callie

        October 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

        My reasoning and objections are to the immature message that her life was ruined by a food truck. Its all so laughable really. I stand by my comments and I’m done here. Ya’ll have a great day. : )

        • JJ

          February 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm

          Give it a rest.

  9. CHeryl

    October 5, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I thought the review provides honest story of events. Angela should take the review and learn from her mistakes. I’m sure they got A$$ chewed all day long and didn’t have much left at the end of the day. I personally would not have waited more than 20 mins. & moved on. Better Luck next time! I would try your food truck and hope it has improved! Warning I will get a refund after 20 mins. My time is important to me. I eat to live NOT live to eat.

  10. seikel

    October 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    F’n insane. If there was real competition these guys would not be in business and we would have a real scene ala Austin. If you cant describe what you’re doing as a process you dont know what you’re doing.

  11. TheConstant1

    October 5, 2012 at 11:42 am

    This is a blog. Not a newspaper article. If said chef doesn’t like constructive criticism on how she prepares for a festival. Then she obviously needs an occupation that has no customer feedback.
    The critic is tolerant. She waited in line for over 2 hours to try the food. Her lunch became her dinner. I Hope to read more from Aubrae on what she thinks of other restaurants in Tulsa. Maybe. next time she can give us a story regarding the food and not just the service overshadowing it.

  12. Callie

    October 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Blog or article, what was written was totally inappropriate and careless. I have no affiliation with the food truck operator, never met her, doubt I ever will. I am a frequent reader of this blog and I stand by my comments. Hopefully Aubrae can live a happy long life despite it being “ruined” at such a young age by a food truck operator.

  13. Maverick

    October 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Callie…I just LOL’d..at you…not with you…

    I didn’t go but spoke to a friend who did go.

    Obviously this was the first, won’t be the last and if you want REAL organization outside of food truck people who are business owners and busy focusing on their normal daily duties or serving you food.. you will
    1. be charged to enter and
    2. a portion of the food cost will be given to the organizers and 3. each truck will pay for a spot
    4. you will pay more as a patron as in go to the Tulsa state fair…so go to the fair for fast speedy service and stop your bitchin(I keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed I keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed) :)

    • Callie

      October 11, 2012 at 11:21 am

      You lost me Mav, don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. I wasn’t the one “bitchin”.

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  15. Angie Johnson

    October 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    WOW. I received an email from a person who had read your post and suggested that I read and give the readers a “balanced view” of what went down that day in general and…more importantly what occurred with my food truck. I am sorry your first experience with my truck was so horrible. Really, I am. That day was one that will stick with me and also a day that I was/will be able to reflect on and learn about what DOES NOT work. We all were over whelmed with the crowds, 4 trucks did not show, TASM had 500 people there for a picnic. That being said, I take full responsibility for the inadequate service of my truck. I have had many festivals that my truck was a machine, served amazing creative food and in a timely manner. I do however…have the many comments/ thumbs up/ that I can also reflect on and that’s what keeps me creating different items to offer from my truck, when to simplify, when to amp it up. So Aubrae, be a bigger person than you seem and please visit my truck again soon.

    All the best,
    Eats 2 U Catering
    Angie’s Street Eats

    Angie Johnson

    • Jeremiah

      October 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Angie…I applaud you for showing great business character.

      With that said, the lady and I were able to eat at two trucks. One of them being yours. The food was good. The lines were disastrous and long to the point the food was almost not worth it. But, this was the first festival. Things happen. Learn. And make the next time better. That’s how it works. Of course, you know that. I’m excited to see how next years turnout will be.

      Also, where do you usually “park” and what is your schedule?

      • Angie Johnson

        October 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm

        Thanks for your input. I have not been ” parked anywhere for quite Some time. With that being said , my main focus are Scheduled festivals and private events. And I was downtown on Friday and noticed so many construction workers south of N. 1st St. My goal this week is to go down and check out what goes on down there during the lunch hour. And I will keep you posted!!
        One main reason I don’t park anywhere that during the lunch hour is because it is not profitable I’m not doing this because it’s cool or. hip…I’m doing this because it’s a challenge/And most importantly I’m a capitalist I like to make money. Follow me on Twitter and I promise I will have more info.

    • Callie

      October 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Great response Angie ( thumbs up)

  16. Yep

    October 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I too noticed the whiney or complaining tone in an earlier article written by this same reviewer. She was referencing how painful it was to leave midtown to try food in the Garnett road area. I think she’s not learned that this tone detracts from the quality of the review. In fact, when she sticks to reviewing the food, and avoiding the whining, her comments about the food are usually quite good.

    That said, I went to the food truck festival on Sunday. Angela’s truck and one other (which was shut down for an hour or two while they did a reload on food) were the only ones there. Disappointing. There weren’t many people there, but it took about 30 minutes for me to get the bean patty sliders. They were pretty good but not outstanding. Talked with Angela (never met her before) and I got the feeling she’s on top of getting things in order. We all know the food service industry is one you rarely hear a compliment, but complaints are almost always loud and vocal. I imagine it’s even tougher trying to do this work inside a small truck. The selection of items was definitely interesting compared to what you’d normally see served from a food truck. Given these things, I certainly think it’s worth giving her truck another try.

  17. Oklahawg

    December 24, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Classy of the business owner to chime in and not be petty.

    Absurd for anyone posting to take issue with the initial review – its a personal take on a dining experience, one that is (by definition) subjective.

    I’d be steamed about a 2+ hour wait, that’s for sure, and not inclined to be tactful when posting about it.

    Sounds like a potentially great event didn’t quite come off as anticipated. What a shame.

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