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The Impact of Food Trucks

Leanna Lin Fong, of Leanna Lin's Wonderland, offers an additional viewpoint about the debate.

Plenty of Patch readers have weighed in on the subject of food trucks in Eagle Rock in response to a June 16 opinion piece by Patricia Neale Vuagniaux, owner of . 

Vuagniaux voiced her concerns about the effect of food trucks on local eateries after Dave Evans of did a weekly cross-promotion on Wednesdays with shaved-ice entrepreneur Thom Uber’s A ROCKin Ice Truck, which Vuagniaux felt adversely affected her sales.

Patch subsequently spoke about the issue of food trucks in Eagle Rock with Evans and Uber as well as with John Nugent, co-owner, with his wife Jennifer Morgan of . Nugent noted that his only collaboration, with the Kogi truck, was a “great experience.” 

However, Nugent ultimately felt that it didn’t make sense for Colorado Wine Company to have additional food truck cross-promotions because, as he put it: "We have , , and all on our block and we love those guys. We would not want to unintentionally cannibalize their business.” 

In this follow-up to our food trucks investigation, Eagle Rock Patch sought the views of Leanna Lin Fong, owner of , who says via e-mail that she loved Colorado Wine Company’s collaboration with the Kogi truck when the wine store first opened. 

She adds, however, that the popular establishment, which holds frequent wine tastings throughout the week, is now “too close to [the] neighbors” for food trucks not to affect their business. Further, says Fong, CoWineCo’s neighboring restaurants “actually deliver to the wine shop for us while [we’re] drinking.”

Fong, however, regularly hires rotating food trucks for her monthly 2nd events Saturday NELA art gallery and offers another perspective on the issue. 

The petite proprietor, whose Tokyo pop-inspired art gallery/beading store/gift shop attracts a hip, young crowd, notes that the gallery scene is extremely competitive and that the art that she shows is more likely to be found on trendy Melrose and Westside L.A. 

According to Fong, “wine and cheese and fruit and crackers”—the de rigueur offerings at art openings in years past—are unlikely to attract the customers in her target demographic who routinely use social media such as Twitter, which food trucks use to alert avid followers to their locations.

Fong, who will celebrate her gallery's first anniversary in August, points out that customers who have never been to Eagle Rock are more likely to drive across town to her art openings because they want to check out the food truck of the night.

“My customers new to the area ask me and I tell them where to go,” says Fong, who, unlike Colorado Wine Company, does not have any restaurants on her block.

“I cross-promote because I think that's what it's all about,” adds Fong. For instance, she once recommended Dave’s Chillin-n-Grillin to a customer. The customer called her later “to tell me how great his sandwich was,” recalls Fong.

Swork, Four Café and are all also the Wonderland owner’s list of brick-and-mortar, restaurant must-tries. She and her husband, art director Luis Jaime, also patronize the food trucks at Verdugo Bar and Eagle Rock Brewery “when other local business are closed—because nothing’s open late around here.”

Fong says she doesn’t just have food trucks at her monthly events, but also features “local sweets from ” and points out that “Swork sponsored our Valentine's event with their delicious coffee and hot chocolate.”

The bottom line, Fong explains, is that she works with entrepreneurs who are passionate about their businesses, whether they are designers, artists or the owners of a local eatery/coffee spot or food truck.

“Having food trucks at my art events adds that extra punch for my customers,” says Fong. “I want my customers to feel like they're getting the full Leanna Lin's Wonderland experience—amazing art, music, drinks, sweets, food trucks."

Wonderland, says its owner, gets customers who tell her “how much they love Eagle Rock and how much it's evolved for the better,” says Fong. If food trucks attract a small percentage of people who otherwise might not come to Wonderland’s art events, then the trucks are “bringing new customers to Eagle Rock.”

mark July 20, 2011 at 08:00 PM
I like going to Wonderland’s art events and I like that there is a food truck out front. If I'm not going to try the truck, I generally eat at home.
Leanna Lin Fong July 20, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Thanks Mark for your support! I'm glad to hear you're having fun at our art events :)
Kim Axelrod Ohanneson July 21, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Mark. Is it the Wonderland event atmosphere that makes the truck appealing or do you track food trucks even when they're not affiliated with Leanna Lin's NELA 2nd Saturday openings?

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