Published March 18, 2018
Attention Pittsburgh food truck fans: You can now find food trucks, peruse their menus, place your order, and pay — all in one app.
Enjoying food trucks Downtown during lunch hour might be easier as soon as this summer, too, as a city planning official works to identify potential reserved spots for mobile food vending.
Bistro Planet comes to Pittsburgh
As food trucks begin to emerge from hibernation, the Western Pennsylvania Alliance of Food Trucks is debuting this month the free app called Bistro Planet.
Imagine this, said Michael Madigan, owner of Vagabond Tacos and Alliance director: You’re at a festival and you’re hungry. Rather than waiting in line for food, you can order it online and keep enjoying the festival, then go pick it up when it’s ready.
Bistro Planet “allows the consumer to view the menu, order their food, pay for it, pick it up in just a few clicks. … The app is an ordering kiosk, but the kiosk is in your hand,” Madigan said. “Since we live in this app world, it’s just one more extension of what the client wants and what the truck can handle and do.”
Check out Bistro here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG7TZnEKM_E
In addition to making the process easier for hungry customers, the app also helps food trucks drum up new business, collect money and maintain sales records.
Though Madigan brought Bistro Planet here through the Alliance, any food truck can join the app — they do not have to be in the Alliance, which comprises 62 dues-paying members representing 25 food trucks. The group provides a resource for advocacy, guidance, event notifications and job leads.
More trucks in Pittsburgh are expected to sign on as summer approaches, and about a dozen are on the app so far, including:
- Ash & Kris Kitchen
- Babcia’s Lunchbox
- Black Box Bistro
- The Cheese Melt
- Curlys Tin Rizzi Ice Cream Truck
- Michele’s Mobile Meals
- Mobile Chef
- Oakmont Barbeque Company
- and, of course, Vagabond Tacos.
‘A food truck city’
Plus, you might soon be able to more easily find food trucks Downtown during lunchtime.
Shelly Danko+Day, urban agriculture and food policy adviser with the Department of City Planning, is working with local food truck groups to identify metered parking spaces where food trucks could vend during the week. Next, she’ll talk with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to see if it’s doable.
While food trucks are now allowed to vend from metered spots, it can be difficult to find a spot “because spots are taken for cars,” she said.
“The idea would be to have a spot that’s reserved between 10:30 and 2 for food trucks. It would be like two parking spots,” she said. “It would be great to add vibrancy to the city. I’d like to see more food trucks in the city.”
After a career as a chef, during which he launched Vue 412 (the Tin Angel replacement on Mt. Washington), Madigan opened his food truck as a way to continue his passion for cooking and have more flexibility and time to parent his two boys at their Elizabeth home.
He opened Vagabond Tacos and founded the Western Pennsylvania Alliance of Food Trucks in 2016. Since then, he’s noticed what he describes as “the food truck revolution.”
“I was like truck No. 40 when it started. We’re at truck 188 now and counting, and that’s just in a few short years — two years,” he said. “There’s a massive food truck boom here. Pittsburgh seems to be a food truck city.”