BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Uptown Maumee welcomed back food trucks this week.
Once a regular summer staple in the city, the food trucks were temporarily suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Maumee Uptown Business Association (MUBA) brought them back this week under new guidelines – there are no large gathering areas with picnic tables, for example – to provide a safe food option while promoting uptown Maumee.
“We are doing our best to provide the type of entertainment that MUBA loves to provide during the summer while being considerate of the precautions that are necessary in the COVID era,” said MUBA president Allison Fiscus.
Throughout summer, the trucks will be parked on Allen Street between West Dudley and West Wayne on Monday afternoons from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the lunchtime crowd and on Friday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. for the dinner crowd. The event will run through Friday, August 14.
“We thought it would be a nice way to give the trucks, which have been out of service, an additional timeslot,” she said.
An individual or group can make of it what they want – taking the food to their home or place of work, or finding a spot in uptown Maumee to sit down and enjoy the food, she added.
Alex Dapkus, of Maumee, bought lunch on Monday at the Leaf and Seed food truck.
“It’s one of the only vegan places around and it’s the best,” he said.
Leaf and Seed food truck owner Susan Herhold said that being at the Maumee food truck event made sense, because it’s right outside her door – literally. She lives in the home on the corner where the event is staged.
“I plan to be here every week,” she said.
Like many business owners, the shutdown has been extremely difficult for Herhold. After experiencing a hugely successful run with the vegan food truck she started in 2017, business expanded with the opening the Leaf and Seed Café in downtown Toledo last December. Then, the pandemic hit a few months after opening, and she had to close her restaurant. Although she has since re-opened it, business is very slow.
In addition, Herhold has experienced a dramatic drop in business for the food truck, which had been booked six days a week through November before the pandemic hit.
“Everything canceled – we had weddings and graduation parties scheduled. It’s been hard, but we just have to recognize that this is the new norm now and we have to go with the flow and hope for the best,” she said. “It’s a struggle, because we count on my income.”
MUBA is doing as much as possible to assist small business owners while hosting safe uptown events. Although large events such as the Maumee Summer Fair and Fourth of July family picnic have been canceled, MUBA will host Maumee Palooza, a livestream event featuring the music that would have been performed during the summer fair.
In addition, MUBA bingo will launch soon, which will allow individuals to stop at a variety of businesses in uptown Maumee for a chance to win prizes, and a fairy door scavenger hunt has been scheduled for late summer.
“We are taking things one step at a time. We don’t want to presume too much and are being just as cautious as we were in the beginning. We are looking to do as many individual activities as we can, but no new large events as of right now,” Fiscus said.