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The Scarlet & Black

Hotel Grinnell rolls out ‘Food Truck Friday’

Hotel Grinnell saw about 250 customers at Tacos Don Diego Friday night. Contributed photo.

From Prairie Canary to Saints Rest to Frontier Cafe, Grinnell is known for its consistently tasty and beloved food offerings. One local restaurant, The Periodic Table at Hotel Grinnell, is looking to diversify the Grinnell food scene even more on Friday nights with the addition of a food truck.

Last Friday, April 19, the Tacos Don Diego food truck from Iowa City served customers outside of the Periodic Table in lieu of regular restaurant service. Hotel Grinnell owner Angela Harrington organized the event in response to the popularity of the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

“We can’t do food well out of our tiny little kitchen when we add a hundred seats on the patio. Whatever we do, we want to do it well. … I didn’t want to take away from any of the existing fantastic restaurants, so it felt like it was okay to switch out my service for a food truck that’s the same amount of food that’s available in Grinnell. … We need some variety in experiences in our small city. And it sounded like a whole lot of fun!” Harrington said.

Tacos Don Diego offers a variety of tacos, quesadillas and burritos ranging in price from $2 to $8. Last Friday, the food truck began serving at 4 p.m. and planned to sell until 10 p.m., but ran out of food at around 9 p.m. Approximately 250 customers purchased food from Tacos Don Diego, a much bigger turnout than originally expected.

“It’s really challenging to get food trucks here, because they want to … have really high-volume [turnout] or they can’t make any money. … We are really lucky that [Tacos Don] Diego took a chance and that Grinnell showed up so big. … I’ve tried a lot of things, and a lot of things haven’t worked, but that worked big time,” Harrington said.

Due to the event’s success, Harrington plans to bring food trucks to the hotel each Friday from now through October, with hours from 4 p.m. to midnight. For now, Tacos Don Diego is the only food truck selling to customers, but Harrington is looking to attract other trucks in order to offer even more variety to Grinnell’s food scene on the weekends. Live music will also occasionally take place on the patio while the truck is there. This weekend, student a capella group Con Brio will be performing on Friday, April 26 at 8 p.m.

In addition to the new food truck initiative, Hotel Grinnell is offering another new program to encourage visitors to explore Grinnell’s food options. On Saturdays and Sundays, hotel guests will be given $10 in “Breakfast Bucks” to spend at a local establishment of their choice instead of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast service. Harrington encouraged students and community members to use the Periodic Table and its patio as a study or hangout space other times of the week as well.

“There’s so many wonderful, creative students, faculty and staff at the College, if there are ideas about food and how we can activate that patio. … I am all ears,” she said. Harrington said.

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