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KC-area food truck operators hungry for return of First Fridays

Summer Crossroads event begins July 2
ying's thai food.jpg
Posted at 4:10 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 19:12:51-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Crossroads Arts District’s First Friday will bring a new element to the experience this year with a designated food truck plaza.

Visitors can stop at at 1907 Grand Boulevard to try a variety of international cuisines as they roam the streets, appreciating art. And many of those small business owners are eager to bounce back after a year of dwindling opportunities.

“Everything shut down in the middle of March. We didn’t know what to do,” Tomas Andersson, co-owner of Ying’s Thai Food, said. “We sat on our hands for a couple of months and tried to figure it out.”

Ying and Tomas Andersson have grown their passion into a full-time business since opening their trunk in 2019. Ying Andersson wanted to share her love for cooking and her Thai culture in an environment where she felt comfortable with her English.

“I want them to eat my food, and I want them to love it like I do,” she said.

Little by little, they built their business. But in an industry that relies heavily on foot traffic, losing a money generator like First Friday hit hard. Since the pandemic, their only source of steady income has been lunches and dinner at the Homeowners Association.

“It’s just nice to have a cornerstone in every month,” Tomas Andersson said. “You know you’re going to get great exposure, to meet new customers, you’re going to feed a lot of people and hopefully make a lot of money.”

It is a sentiment the staff of Twisted Taters understand all too well. Partners Tony Floro and Lori Lee quit their jobs and capitalized on loaded french fries three years ago.

“Pulled pork on top of fries, Philly cheesesteak, Greek sandwich on top of fries, cheeseburger on top of fries or the Idaho that’s on the side of the truck there,” Floro said of their menu.

Like many other food trucks, Floro said, they felt the brunt of the shutdown as well. With no backup plan, they rallied with a few other food trucks and made their way around nearby neighborhoods for dinner.

“That was scary,” Lee said. “Our calendar was pretty full with big events, and we were just getting emails after phone calls after email saying, ‘We’re done, nope, nope…’ and we just kind of looked at each other and were panicked.”

The two are excited to return to First Friday, where the community has felt more like family in years past.

“First Fridays has done that," Floro said. "It’s brought the trucks together where people can come and try a variety of food and different trucks and just have a great time."