Ascension Lutheran Church in Towson is known to put on fun events for the community and beyond, particularly making use of its parking lot, just across York Road (Trunk or Treat, Move-Out Sale, Drive-Through Prayers, to name a few). And now, all summer, Wednesday nights from 5 to 8 p.m. have seen a gathering of food trucks on Ascension’s lot.
Julie Lauver, director of outreach at Ascension, said the idea came up in a staff meeting that food trucks could create a social atmosphere for community gatherings and conversation. Plus, the trucks provide a welcome break from cooking on steamy summer nights.
Ascension had no experience with coordinating such a thing, so it tapped The Maryland Best Food Trucks (www.mdbestfoodtrucks.com) for help. Lauver found that in hosting trucks, they could also earn a fee from the vendors — funds that could further give back.
July’s earnings helped The Arc, August goes to the Assistance Center of Towson Churches food pantry in Towson, and September will benefit the Student Support Network.
Ascension checked with the lot’s immediate neighbors first, and the idea was received well (one neighbor had his birthday party there). The church provides picnic tables and volunteer greeters/helpers to keep the event running smoothly.
“The organizers did neighborly due diligence and spoke to as many of us as possible,” neighbor Nicole Atkinson said. “I couldn’t be more impressed at how well it has been run. We love walking up the road and running into so many friends and also striking up conversations with strangers.
"The food trucks have created a new opportunity for the community to come together, break bread and contribute to local charities all at the same time. Win, win, win.“
Residents of surrounding neighborhoods walk over with strollers, dogs, camp chairs and blankets or they drive in to socialize and try new cuisine. Many of the trucks have fan customers who show up wherever they set up, and often the truck operators themselves will come buy dinner from each other. Community within community!
The lot hosts five or six trucks per week. You won’t find the exact same lineup twice, but there’s sure to be a combination, including savory, sweet, and vegetarian offerings. On average, the cost of items ranges from about $5 to $18.
Cajun truck Dèjá Roux plays Creole music that is a hit with the crowd. Dizzy Cow Pizzeria has an enormous brick oven in the truck for firing pizzas. One of the most popular offerings from Tasty Maryland is the “Crabby Cone” (cone of fries topped with a crab cake and imperial sauce).
Tasty Maryland owner Paula Waddell said, “From a vendor’s perspective, Ascension has done an amazing job organizing this fun weekly event. I appreciate the community supporting my small business, and I love giving back to the greater Towson community as well.”
Tacos are always a favorite, and Pablo’s Toc O’s has enjoyed being part of the lineup. Owner Michael O’Donovan said: “It’s one of the best community supported events that we attend. The money raised for charities is not to be ignored. We’ve made many new customers from the surrounding neighborhoods, and we thoroughly look forward to Wednesday nights.”
Some of the other featured trucks include: Bistro Lunchbox, Bo2Go, Crossroads Bistro, Fili’s, Mexican on the Run, The Green Bowl, The Smoking Swine, WOLO, Brain Freeze Tropical Ice Cream, Deddle’s Mini Donuts, Fresh Bites Snow Dome, and Icedgems.
Go to Ascension Lutheran Church on Facebook to see the lineup each week. The event will continue through Sept. 4, and possibly longer, if demand and logistics allow.