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City Council District 5
City Council District 5

     District 5 Profile

By Emma Roos-Collins

June 2011


Off teh Grid Truck

Chicken tikka masala burritos, Chinese duck tacos, ahi tuna sliders, falafel and crème brûlée are just some of the many options coming to North Shattuck this summer. "Off the Grid," a San Francisco-based mobile food vendor, is opening its first Berkeley location in early June. At least six food trucks, offering a wide variety of cuisines with dishes usually under $10, will be occupying the same spot as the Thursday Farmers' Market every Wednesday from 4:30 to 9:30 PM. In keeping with Farmers' Market standards, the food will be primarily local and sustainably grown and all containers will be recyclable or compostable. The event will be alcohol-free and vendors will try to provide foods not yet available in the area. There will even be a truck set aside for local restaurants that want to try their hand at street food.


          In order to help local businesses as much as possible, the North Shattuck Association will have a table similar to the one at the Farmers' Market with plenty of marketing materials. Heather Hensley, the executive director of the NSA, also plans to encourage businesses to stay open an hour or two later on Wednesdays to ensure that they get the most out of the increased number of pedestrians.


Off the Grid food 4        


Off the Grid Matt Cohen and Susan Wengraf         

Matt Cohen, OtG's founder, (pictured left between Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Susan Wengraf) explains that "because Off the Grid events occur only once weekly, we have an exceptional history of assisting area businesses around our markets due to the significant increase in foot traffic that results from our events." He describes OtG's role as "a community event that serves as a gathering point within any community. OtG doesn't seek to supplant any neighborhood restaurants.  Instead, OtG seeks to add to the restaurant district by offering alternate, creative food offerings that aren't conveniently located in that immediate area.”


 Off the Grid started a year ago and has attracted a large band of followers since then. It currently has six weekly events in San Francisco, the largest of which has 30 food trucks. Although North Shattuck will be the first East Bay location, Heather Hensley, believes that OtG will bring a large influx of people because it fills a previously empty nich. "This event represents the ability to tap into people who are into the street food movement and follow social media." OtG has used Twitter and Facebook to announce dates and locations of upcoming events as a way to appeal to young adults. Matt Cohen estimates that "more than 50% of our customers are either young urban professionals aged 20-35 or young families aged 25-45. Most rely on social media for following information on our events."


            Off the Grid Eating

 Heather Hensley also feels that OtG will be a great event for the community, especially families: "everyone will come together over food. If you've ever eaten out with young children, you know it's easier if they have someplace where they can run around. At the Farmer's Market, parents feed their kids in the middle of the market. OtG will be like that, except that the food will be meant to be eaten on the spot."


                  Off the Grid Fries          

For more information, please visit Off the Grid

Other media reports can be found at Berkeleyside or San Francisco Chronicle.

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