HOLLADAY, Utah (ABC4) – Coming off of an extremely challenging year for food trucks, and as acts of violence and hatred towards Asian-Americans continue to bubble across the country, some truck owners are banding together to create a positive and delicious atmosphere.
On July 13, a handful of Asian-owned food trucks will gather together for an Asian Food Truck Festival at the SOHO Food Park in Holladay, in partnership with the Asian American Collegiate Alliance.
Ethan Hirabayashi of the AACA, came up with the idea as a way to form unity among the different Asian ethnic groups, and support some businesses that had to struggle through not only the hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic but also a recent surge in Asian hate.
Seeing the vandalism that affected World Famous Yum Yum Asian Food Truck last month furthered the desire to make the event come together, Hirabayashi says.
“This is an opportunity for other people to try their food and have a safe environment,” he tells ABC4.com. “I know Utah’s COVID restrictions have been kind of lifted for events, so we can congregate and enjoy the nice summer weather.”
While an invitation to Yum Yum’s owners was declined due to the distance away from the truck’s parking spot in Layton, several other trucks serving Thai, Japanese, Filipino, and Chinese food will be in attendance.
Although the truck’s owners and cuisines are all from different Asian countries, Hirabayashi, whose family is from Japan, says it’s become increasingly imperative for all Asian-Americans to be united against recent racist acts that have and can turn violent.
“We all have different history but at the end of the day you know it could be my grandparents, it could be someone else’s grandparents being harassed by someone else, and showing our unity together is super important during this time,” he says.
Mark Young, who manages the Food Park and whose wife, Suzy, owns the Suzy Thai food truck, knows firsthand how concerned Asian-Americans are in the current climate. While his wife hasn’t been a victim of Asian hate, she spends most of her time inside their home and frequently asks Young if it’s safe to go out.
“There is fear in the Asian community because of things that have happened,” Young states. “They see Asian news around the country and then back in their original countries and that fear is something that is real because I’ve seen it personally.”
An influential figure in the Utah food truck community, Young says the pandemic took a major toll on the industry and the families that try to make a living from selling meals from a mobile kitchen. His wife’s food truck was booked every single year through 2020, to give service at lunches, conventions, weddings, and other events. When the pandemic broke out, everything was completely canceled.
“We went from fully booked to being zero booked. It was tragic,” he recalls.
Luckily, Suzy Thai was able to survive thanks to a pivot to delivery service, contactless drive-thrus, and massive support from customers who bought a large volume of gift cards.
Other trucks weren’t as fortunate, Young affirms.
With COVID-19 related restrictions being increasing rolled back, Young feels that a food truck gathering like the one at his park would make for an ideal outing for folks looking to enjoy the warm weather.
“Food trucks are a great way to get out and SOHO Food Park is uniquely good for that because it’s an outdoor venue so there’s lots of fresh air,” he states.
Hirabayashi is hoping that the event, which is scheduled for the middle of the week, to have an air of weekend-like energy.
“I want to like to blow this out of the water and have a ton of people there enjoying it. I know it’s a Tuesday, but I want it to feel like a Friday with as many people as possible, everyone enjoying themselves.”
Asian Food Truck Festival
Tuesday, July 13
5 – 8:30 p.m.
SOHO Food Park
4747 Holladay Blvd.
Holladay, UT 84117
– Bento Truck
– Comfort Bowl
– Suzy Thai
– Crunchy Munchy
– Fatty Tuna
– Thai Chef To Go