Food Truck Fridays are officially a “thing” in downtown Red Deer.
This season, more trucks than ever are pulling up, parking, firing up their grills and feeding the hungry masses right next to Cool Beans Coffee Company Inc. at 4740 Ross Street. It was clearly time for some in-depth reporting on this gastronomy on the go. So notebook and fork in hand, each week I will highlight one of the food trucks and put samples of its offerings to the taste test.
This feature will run on the food page every Thursday. I hope you enjoy the trip.
The journey to Red Deer’s downtown Food Truck Fridays was led by a bus — a 1964 British double-decker to be exact.
It was converted by Cool Beans Coffee Company Inc. owner Kevin Traptow into a mobile coffee shop and has spent the last few years at its current downtown location across from the provincial court house.
Traptow says shortly after he first started operating another food truck owner asked if they could join him. Always up for a little culinary collaboration, he agreed.
As other food trucks took notice it just “kind of became a thing,” he says. Counting his own bus, there are eight food trucks on site on a typical Friday and he has had to turn others away because of a lack of space.
The goal is to give people variety. Each food truck must have its own focus, so no two are in direct competition. You want coffee — Cool Beans aims to please. A taste for pulled pork tacos — The Stache is there to serve. Lemonade, corn on the cob and kettlecorn — KJ’s. And so on.
“Everybody works hard to be different,” he says. “It’s a total community. We actually meet a whole bunch of times before the season starts.”
And the food truck vendors are always looking for a new twist. Last year, live music was tried out.
This year, some of the trucks have introduced ordering by text. Text the order and a few minutes later office workers can send a runner down to pick up staff lunches.
This season is off to an epic start. Gorgeous weather in late May saw around 1,000 people turn out between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the first Friday on May 27.
The following Friday was another scorcher and photographer Jeff Stokoe joined me for a flyby restaurant review.
Cool Beans’ coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and teas have always been big draws. But Traptow is also offering a range of baked goods, grilled sandwiches and breakfast paninis out of his bus.
The reuben and roast chicken sandwiches are big sellers so we put them to the test.
Perfectly toasted rye bread anchors the reuben. A healthy pile of corned beef is set off with a sauerkraut that hit the tangy — but not eye-wateringly sour — target perfectly. Throw in some swiss cheese, gruyere and a dose of Russian dressing and you’ve got a winner.
The roasted chicken sandwich also hit all the right marks, highlighted with a mystery ingredient that had Jeff and I trying to figure out what it was and why it tasted so good. Sweet fig jam is what it was and it worked perfectly with the chicken, blue cheese, mozza and a slice of crisp green apple.
Both come with a nice crunchy coleslaw and potato chips for $9.50.
Cool Beans is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays 11 to 4 p.m. (seasonal). For more information go to www.coolbeanscoffee.ca