Nick
Nick Baker
Jun 22, 2017

We’re constantly looking for bottom-up solutions to basic problems: how we communicate (obviously), but also how we learn, how we breathe, how we grow, and how we eat. On the last, the American food truck is actually a source of real inspiration: a true “off-grid” restaurant, to bring the food to the people, wherever they are. The origin of the American food truck as we know it today can be traced back to Reconstruction-era Texas, the rapid Southwestern expansion that occurred on the continent in the years after the Civil War, and a beef boom that arose to feed an increasingly carnivorous nation.

Ranchers in Texas would spend weeks or even months at a time tending to vast herds of cattle and living outdoors, with covered wagons often acting as the only real infrastructure. Trail crews included a chuck wagon, which was functionally a mobile kitchen. But the chuck wagon was more like a one-stop shop for cowboys, rather than just a mobile mess hall. As the American Chuck Wagon Association puts it, “The chuck wagon was the cowboys’ home — for most, the only home they had.”

Chuck wagon operators did more than serve food to hungry trail crews. They offered services to cowboys for everything from equipment repairs to medical help, all in a fully mobile capacity.

Food trucks at Bonnaroo. Photo copyright: tripsbylance.com.
Food trucks at Bonnaroo. Photo copyright: tripsbylance.com.

Fast-forward to Waialua, Hawaii in the early 1990s, where the modern food truck emerged in the form of Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Giovanni’s original truck was a converted 1950s-era bread truck, which circled the North Shore each day and made stops in various locations so people could walk up and order meals.

This sort of ad-hoc system of food delivery would later take hold in mid-aughts Los Angeles, which saw not only a food truck boom, but one that celebrated the diversity of L.A.’s population and palette. Perhaps the most notable truck in the L.A. food truck revival scene is Kogi, which specializes in fusion dishes like short-rib tacos and kimchi dogs.

This solution-driven approach to food service — emphasizing mobility, accessibility and relative affordability — exemplifies the idea that industries can and will adapt to the needs of consumers.

Similar to the developments in the food truck industry, goTenna was developed as a solution to meet communications needs in critical situations where conventional comms infrastructure is lacking. At massive music festivals like Bonnaroo, where tens of thousands of fans descend on generally remote areas and quickly overwhelm available bandwidth, communication among festival goers is unnecessary difficult and goTenna’s capability becomes paramount.

Using goTennas near the iconic Bonnaroo arch. Photo by Chris Weller.
Using goTennas near the iconic Bonnaroo arch. Photo by Chris Weller.

So we teamed up with The Knoxville-based Savory and Sweet Truck at Bonnaroo 2017 and the upcoming Electric Forest festival by outfitting their team with goTennas to facilitate communication. The Savory and Sweet crew spent two weekends on The Farm serving festival goers and Bonnaroo staffers. Helmed by husband-and-wife co-owners Byron and Kiki Sambat, Savory and Sweet was one of the first modern food trucks in Knoxville, and spearheaded a culinary movement by working with the city to establish food truck regulations for vendors.

Savory and Sweet Truck at Bonnaroo. Photo copyright: savoryandsweet.com.
Savory and Sweet Truck at Bonnaroo. Photo copyright: savoryandsweet.com.

Bonnaroo features a wide array of food trucks at its hub for mobile grub, the Food Truck Oasis. With multiple staffs working among the thousands of festival attendees, the Savory and Sweet crew maintained open lines of communication among their team by using goTennas.

Bonnaroo’s Food Truck Oasis. Photo copyright savoryandsweettruck.com.
Bonnaroo’s Food Truck Oasis. Photo copyright savoryandsweettruck.com.

These sorts of pop-up marketplaces are able to cater to the needs of 40,000+ sun-drenched festival goers in a remote concert destination, and those teams staffing the events need to be able to perform their job duties on the go, constantly adapting to crowds, weather, inventory and countless other factors — not the least of which includes poor cell coverage. Enter goTenna. And enjoy the kim-chi taco.

Featured image copyright: onewed.com