Enter the Zone

Anjali Jhangiani
Monday, 31 July 2017

Here’s all you need to know about the recently launched Food Truck Zone on New Airport Road

At the zone, eight food trucks are serving burgers, tacos, burritos, rolls sandwiches, cheesy treats, deep fried ice-creams and much more 

There are days when you have to eat what you’re served, or what you can cook with what you have in your kitchen. Then there are days when you have a craving for something specific and you know which eatery or restaurant to head to. And there are also days when you have vague cravings. On such days, you can head to Pune Food Truck Zone, and take your pick from a number of food trucks that offer everything from delightful sundaes to filling burritos. We checked out the place on the day of the launch, Saturday, July 28, to get all the information you need to know. 

WHERE IS IT?
If you take left from Nagar Road, the one that leads straight to Symbiosis Viman Nagar Campus, you will find the Pune Food Truck Zone on the way. It’s on New Airport Road. Located in an open space, a private property belonging to someone who has let it out, the space is highlighted with a huge banner to catch passersby attention.  

WHAT’S ON OFFER?
There are eight food trucks parked at the venue. Vikram Dabholkar, from the Pune Food Truck Association, says, “We formed a group with the food truck owners and discussed about having a zone like this. We discussed among ourselves about who wants to be in and who doesn’t. The eight food trucks that wanted to be on board are here. There was no selection process or anything like that.”

Dabholkar owns The Eggs Factor. Covered in quirky graffiti, like ‘pehle egg, baad mein peg’ the food truck offers a range of egg-based preparations. Then there is Chow Down, which serves burgers, tacos, burritos and the likes. Wheelers also has a Mexican menu. The Cheese Truck offers heavy cheesy treats and Hakuna Matata’s speciality seems to be their deep fried ice-creams. 

Taste in Town serves delicious sundaes. Fork the Kebab brings you a variety of tandoori dishes and 3 Bhukkads serves comfort food like rolls and sandwiches. 

The trucks are scheduled to be here everyday from 5 to 11 pm, but the association is trying to extend it from 12 noon to 11 pm if business kicks off. 

WHY DID THEY GATHER HERE?
Before they gathered here, these food trucks  would park and operate in different parts of the city. They came together so that they could solve the issues they faced dealing with traffic and parking. 

“I used to park in Viman Nagar, opposite Lunkad Queensland. We had a lot of parking problems there. When this initiative came up, I jumped on board because here we have better amenities. When we stand on the roadside, there are many hurdles for us as well as the government. We hope now we will get acclimatised with the local bodies also,” says Mahendra Gachche who runs the Taste in Town truck. 

Dabholkar nods along affirmatively. “We are always blamed for blocking the road and taking up space. We wanted to be out of traffic’s way but accessible to customers. We have parking space here so that people can come in their vehicles, park them here and have a nice time with their families and friends,” says Dabholkar. 

WHAT’S IT REALLY LIKE?
If you’ve seen the fuss about this zone on social media, you must have also come across beautiful photographs of food trucks parked on a huge lawn with green grass, pretty lights and ample space for families to picnic. It’s not so pretty yet, but the square plot of land is big enough to accommodate eight trucks parked along the sides with the space in the middle available for customers to come and wait for their orders. Some trucks offer plastic chairs to their customers, and all of them have a dust bin to collect their garbage. 

The ground has broken pieces of cement, and as planned by the association, will soon be levelled. There isn’t any arrangement for water, but we hope that in the days to come there will be, or customers will have to buy bottled mineral water. Littering is a huge concern, but Dabholkar says, “We have sent an application to the PMC authorities to come and collect all the garbage from here every morning. The food truck owners will also keep dustbins around so that customers don’t litter.”

You can pay by cash, and very few trucks have the option of Paytm. Swipe machines will be installed when a sizeable customer influx happens in a month or two. 

LOOKING AHEAD
Since there are only eight food trucks at the zone now, Dabholkar sees how it might get monotonous for customers to visit the place after a while. It will be similar to going to a multi-cuisine restaurant because the options will be limited to the offerings of the eight food trucks. But he has a plan to keep things fresh as they are meant to be. “We are on the lookout for a space in another part of the city. We will set up another food truck zone and there will be different trucks; also trucks can shuffle between here and there,” he says. 

Since there are many residential societies in the area, Dabholkar plans on tying up with delivery services like Swiggy or Foodpanda so that food can also be home delivered from the Food Truck Zone.

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