For all of my (very short) working life, I have been in the food service industry. Preparing meals, cooking food, and interacting with customers have all become second nature to me.Last summer, I was approached by a friend who asked if I’d be interested in working on a food truck for the summer.
Now I ﬁnd myself running the day‐to-day operations of one of the food trucks at The Little Fleet on Front Street. I’ve got to say that this is absolutely the best job I have ever had! Is it because I get to work where people go on vacation, so everybody’s busy relaxing and unwinding? Is it because it’s simply a cool spot to be? Who knows?
The Little Fleet attracts many customers, both locals and visitors, which makes it an excellent place to interact with a wide range of people. Some are even famous! On a daily basis I get to learn about people visiting our area, I hear their stories and discover what brought them to Traverse City. Lots of them love the local food truck scene.
“This is such a cool idea,” I’ve heard more than once. “I might have to do this back in my hometown.”
Seven “micro restaurants” housed in colorful trailers are randomly parked here at The Little Fleet. Run by local entrepreneurs, they offer everything from pulled pork tacos to simple grilled cheese sandwiches. The place where I work, “A’s Food with an Accent,” specializes in Portuguese-inﬂuenced sandwiches and snacks, as well as delicious French fries.
The Little Fleet is a modern spin on the traditional food court, with a family-friendly bar thrown in the mix. Personally, I consider it an eclectically thought-out, well-executed masterpiece that has added a new diversity of dining options to downtown Traverse City. What used to be a corner store has now been transformed into one of Traverse City's hottest and hippest spots, a place to sit back, grab a drink and catch a bite to eat while enjoying local music and a variety of other events.
Every Sunday, for instance, there’s a Gypsy Market that features quality handmade goods made by local artisans, with all of the vibes of an art fair, but on a much smaller scale. And once a month the entire Little Fleet lot is fenced off for a day of family-centered festivities. (The next one on deck is Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 26.) Then there are the Bluegrass Fridays, where you can grab a seat on the patio and a freshly-squeezed margarita (soo good!) and enjoy some toe-tapping musical fun.
I mentioned famous people, and they seem to show up here pretty regularly. I’ve already had the opportunity to meet and make food for Mario Batali and Jeﬀ Garlin. Mario showed up at The Little Fleet while filming an episode for “The Chew” and this was by far one of the coolest experiences I have had. Meeting him and the crew and seeing the behind‐the-scenes action was pretty amazing. Jeﬀ Garlin was in town for the Traverse City Film Festival and made his way down to The Little Fleet following suggestions from locals. And hey, when the locals recommend a place, you know it’s good.
Needless to say, there hasn’t been a dull moment among the Traverse City food truck scene. If you haven't been here yet, you should deﬁnitely stop by and say hello!
About the Author: In addition to working on the food truck Austin is also an intern at Traverse City Tourism. He is a junior at Michigan State University studying Media & Information. While not working he enjoys the outdoor recreation opportunities in the area and the incredible Northern Michigan sunsets.