Besting crowd estimates hypothesized by the Manayunk Development Corporation, the inaugural StrEAT Food Festival Sept. 29 succeeded in bringing people to Main Street to sample Philadelphia food trucks.
The MDC said somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 people descended on Manayunk (well above the 5,000 people predicted), prompting the organization to announce a second installment of the StrEAT Food Festival.
That crowd's size also drew the event's primary complaints from attendees—many of the 19 food trucks ran out of food too early, leaving hungry people waiting in long lines at trucks that brought more supplies.
MDC Executive Director Jane Lipton said several factors contributed to the early exits for some merchants.
"Based on the on-again, off-again threat of rain, and a first-time event, vendors were conservative. I wish they weren't, but it's tough to blame them," she said. "These are small business people with not huge space for supplies. If it rained and less people came, they have perishable items, so they would have lost them."
While Lipton said she couldn't ensure vendors won't run out next year, she hopes the initial success will better prepare them for 2013.
"Everyone wants us to do it again. So I hope if we have 30 food trucks and 40 vendors, people will know how to order supplies," she said.
And when vendors ran out of food this year, Manayunk's staple eateries stepped up.
"I can tell you one thing: Our restaurants did not run out of food... and everyone did better business this week than on a normal Saturday," she said.
In a news release, the MDC detailed some of the restaurants' highlights, including:
- Lucky's Last Chance was standing-room only
- Jake’s and Coopers’ was filled all day and into the evening.
- Gemelli reported a record Saturday for September.
Another concern from attendees involved the mobility. Main Street remained open to cars Saturday and packed people on the sidewalks.
Lipton said it's too early to say if the street will shut down in 2013—like it does for the Manayunk Arts Festival.
"I know guests to Manayunk love it when the street is closed, but it's a very difficult thing for Manayunk. It's twice as expensive and harder logistically," she said.
To shut the road down from Green to Shurs Lanes, the MDC has to coordinate with SEPTA and the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Additionally, she said the area loses 300 to 400 parking spots with street parking off the table and Cotton and Carson Street lots closed.
"I was here from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and I saw spots and lots turn over all day. It's really great," she said. "Does that mean we won't close the road? It's too early to tell."