July 11–UTICA — Tuesday found some of the Utica Food Truck Association’s members at a new spot.
Instead of being at Roser Communications’ weekly “What the Truck” event at Canal Park in North Utica, six of the members spent Tuesday evening at the Parkway Center along the Memorial Parkway for a new weekly event called “Picnic in the Park.”
Nick Briggs, president of the association and owner and operator of the Holy Smoques BBQ food truck, said the reason for the move was because contracts and agreements the 11-member association had with Roser Communications “kept being broken.”
“It just got into a situation where we weren’t comfortable doing the event down there because our agreements and our contracts were being broken left and right and it was starting to affect our businesses,” Briggs said.
Not all of the association’s members will be at the new event at the Parkway Center, however. Some will still be taking part in “What the Truck.”
Briggs said the association had an agreement and contract with Roser Communications that only food trucks belonging to the association could participate in the “What the Truck” event because they wanted to ensure the trucks were serving a diverse selection of food and weren’t all serving the same things. But he said trucks not with the association were invited to the event and that those trucks did not have to adhere to the association’s “black list” that assigns certain types of food to certain trucks.
“The reason why we do it through the association is because the guys that we have within our group are vetted food truck operators,” Briggs said. “We know that they’re not going to scream at a customer in a bad situation. We know how they’re going to handle themselves and represent the Utica Food Truck Association. When you start inviting other trucks to do an event that was supposed to be just us then those trucks start to get associated with our association … and if they handle themselves the wrong way, it goes back.”
Ken Roser, owner of Roser Communications, said they didn’t break any signed or oral contracts.
“Your word is your word and that’s the way we’ve always run the companies, so I would respectfully dispute that,” Roser said. “I would say with respect to that comment that the matter of fact that the majority of them or more than half of his group are still here I think speaks to whether or not that is true or not.”
“I hope they do OK,” Roser said of the new event. “I’m sure they’ll be fine. We’re more focused and concentrated on our thing. That’s all.”
Roser previously suggested that the decision to leave his food truck event was politically motivated, but Briggs said that is not the case.
“The only one that planned the new ‘Picnic in the Park’ event was the Utica Food Truck Association,” he said. “The only thing the city of Utica and the mayor did for us was they just approved the event for us to have it. They had no planning in it. They didn’t choose the day and the hours or the location. Nothing.”
Briggs also said they chose to have the new event on Tuesday because association members were busy others days during the week and had already set aside time that day for the “What the Truck” event.
“We’ve got graduation parties, weddings,” he said. “We’re seasonal businesses so in the six, seven months that we get, we book as much as we can and we book up to a year or two. I’m booked up to 2019 right now.”
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