Susan Pollara has been a Hopewell resident and community volunteer since 2005. However, she is a lifelong foodie. She enjoys trying new cuisines and dishes as much as possible. She also loves to support local entrepreneurs.
On June 23, Pollara will once again combine these passions through Food Truck Friday.
Scheduled to take place at the train station in Hopewell from 5 to 9 p.m., Food Truck Friday will be, as it has been the past few years, a day for people in and around Hopewell to go and taste both new flavors and old favorites. Eleven trucks, featuring everything from Korean to Italian to BBQ, will be lined up on Railroad Place rain or shine.
The event has been held bi-annually since the summer of 2014, when Pollara first discovered food truck events and decided to try it out. “I love this town and I really wanted more variety of food,” she said. “There’s so many creative trucks out there, so I thought it would be really fun to try and bring some. The Hopewell Borough Recreational Committee was totally supportive.”
Surprisingly, Pollara had never been to a food truck fest before starting her own, but “knew that it could be really fun. And Adam Brown, who started the Surf and Turf Truck, was really helpful in thinking about the logistics and introducing me to the local trucks that first year,” she said.
Pollara, a volunteer on the town’s Economic Development Committee, says the event is a great way to attrack visitors to the borough.
“It’s a nice event for people who live in Hopewell Borough, but it’s a great event for those who are curious about what’s here, as they can really get a taste of how great our town is,” she said.
Along with Brown, Pollara had other help starting the event. The Hopewell Borough Recreation Committee is really helpful, she said, as is Roxanne Klett, her “partner-in-crime.”
“I organize the food trucks and she gets the music and helps promote it,” Pollara said.
This June, the music will be a live performance from “devil bluesy jam rock band” Ten Foot Tall.
When the event was first held, organizers were shocked by the attendance. “We had no idea what to expect; we were hoping for around 500 people, and we got probably double or triple that,” Pollara said.
For an event of such proportions, Pollara says Food Truck Fridays go relatively smoothly, for which she credits her team’s effort and town’s support. Crowd size and long lines were challenges in the beginning. To deal with overcrowding, Pollara added more trucks.
“The first time, I think we only had five trucks. Now, we’ve learned what the right balance is, and we have 11 trucks and work really hard not to duplicate. I work with food truck vendors to help them understand how to deal with the crowd, and they do a great job,” she said.
The trucks vary in both point of origin and cuisine. Three—Antimo’s, Nomad Pizza and Four Daughters Franks, originate in Hopewell. My Four Suns and the Surf and Turf Truck have Hamilton roots, and Jammin’ Crepes and the Feed Truck are from Princeton and Kingston. The Tot Truck and Nina’s Waffles come from Pennsylvania, Aunt Dee Dee’s Oven Baked Goodness from Flemington, Empanada Guy from Freehold and Oink and Moo BBQ from Florham Park.
Everyone seems to enjoy the event for various reasons. Pollara’s children joined in the interview for this story and gave their opinion on what makes Food Truck Friday so great. “I enjoy everything. It’s all fun, and all of your friends come and it’s one big playtime for everyone to see each other and talk to each other,” said 11-year old Ben Pollara.
“There so many kids, and all my friends come and you get to play and run around,” added 9-year old Max.
All the attendees also have their own favorite trucks. While Ben’s favorite is Oink and Moo BBQ, Max enjoys Four Daughters Franks.
Though the event has continuously expanded, Pollara and her team have kept the event in the same location due to the great environment. “[The train station grounds] are great setting. There’s a curved driveway where the trucks lineup, and its surrounded by a playground and lots of green grass,” Pollara said. “We set up tables and chairs but people also bring their blankets and sit out on the lawn for hours, listening to music and eating. It’s just really ideal. It’s also very walkable from all parts of the Borough. For those that don’t live in Hopewell, there’s parking available at Somerset Street, so it’s very convenient.”
Furthermore, the shops near Railroad Place receive more business as a result of Food Truck Friday. “There’s a lot of shops that people can wander around to see. There’s other restaurants if people want to have a snack or a proper meal. There’s a lot of options,” Pollara said.
And, though there seems to be obvious demand for such an event, Pollara intends to keep it focused on the town, as she believes local support is vital to the event’s success. “It’s very definitely a Hopewell event, since everyone is so supportive: the mayor, the borough administration, and everyone that works for the borough, like the maintenance crew,” she said.
Outside of Food Truck Friday and volunteering, Pollara has plenty on her plate. She works full time for YourCause, a software company based in Dallas, Texas, that connects corporations to nonprofit organizations. She was also elected to the Hopewell Valley School Board in November. Her sons Ben and Max attend Hopewell Elementary School.
More information on Food Truck Friday is online at foodtruck-friday.com.