Food Truck Fun

By on Nov 18, 2013 in People

Looking for a new way to bring prospective residents to your property? One innovative approach, tried out successfully at numeroEmmer group Gainesville food truck fest 3us communities, involves everybody’s favorite meals on wheels: Food trucks!

At a largely student-populated apartment complex in Gainesville, Florida, bringing together 12 food trucks for an afternoon this April resulted in resident fun, great local media buzz, and a handful of new leases. Stoneridge Apartments’ Super Sunday Funday Food Truck Festival wasn’t just a success – it was an epic success.

“We had a turnout of approximately 500 people and our residents loved it. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback as well as requests for more food events like these,” said Denise Snyder, Regional Property Manager, CAM, for The Emmer Group. “The food ranged from awesome cupcakes, to ice cream and doggie ice cream, and there was Thai food, Cajun food and gourmet grilled cheese.”

Snyder had a strong feeling that food trucks would go over well with her residents, and not just because many of them are college students who love to try new things. Stoneridge’s popular Perks Program, which gives residents discounts at local restaurants and other businesses, has been a big success. “Our residents (and staff) love to eat!  We plan to host another big event this fall, and delectable treats will certainly be a huge draw,” she said.

Harnessing the power of social media before, during and after the event, word-of-mouth from residents and local businesses drove prospects, friends of residents, and the simply hungry to Stoneridge. Once they’d wandered the truck lineup and sampled some tasty treats, there was no reason to leave – a beer garden was set up on site, next to a lake on the property and under some shade trees. There was live music and a DJ, too. If enjoying such a relaxing afternoon just felt like home, leasing staff was on hand to give a property and unit tour right on the spot. Five apartments were rented based on tours given that day.

Stoneridge’s advice for other communities who’d like to host a similar event? Generate buy-in by getting your staff team involved and excited.  Create local publicity by working with community partners and make sure your residents have plenty of time to get the word out to their friends.

“We certainly had a great time with zero hiccups along the way. As for the resident demographic, just make sure they like to eat a lot of diverse food groups!” said Snyder.

Alliance Residential Company had similar lease-up success with a 10-truck event at its Broadstone – Citrus Village property in Tampa.

Rather than coordinating the event themselves, Alliance’s property site team found it easier to outsource the set-up and marketing of the Next Gen Gourmet Food Festival to a local company that arranges food truck festivals around the city. Since the location of the event is such an important detail for anyone attending such an event, great free publicity followed for the new community, which held its first festival in August 2012.

During the four-hour festival, up to 1,000 people came through. Broadstone – Citrus Village is a neighborhood style development, making it easy for the trucks to parallel park and the streets to be blocked off so people can line up to buy food.

The first event was such a great success that by resident request, another one followed in spring 2013. And Business Manager Frances Rivera has no doubt that there will be more in the future.

“Since we were just in the latter portion of our lease-up, it was a great way to close it out and get that last boost of traffic. It was a hit. I would definitely recommend it for anyone that has this type of set-up, where they have the flexibility to block off the road the way that we did. It’s definitely something outside of the box,” Rivera said. She said at least a half-dozen leases resulted directly from the event.

Alliance is considering similar events for two properties in South Florida, said Regional Manager Laura Rodriguez. One property, Broadstone – Boca Raton, may station one or two food trucks outside on weekends during lease-up – “just to bring some liveliness to the normal weekend.” Apparently, food trucks are a guaranteed way to do that.


This article was part of a November feature in Multi-Housing News magazine called Niche Marketing: Developers are attracting the foodie demographic with delicious eats close to home.