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Published August 23rd, 2017
Orinda residents flock to food trucks to feast
Families don't mind waiting in line for food while chatting on the warm summer evening Aug. 17 in front of the Orinda Community Center on Orinda Way. Photo Sora O'Doherty

The Orinda Street Feast, the first of the trial food truck events approved by the Orinda City Council, was a huge success, with long lines of people waiting to order, while others sat and enjoyed their meals in the evening sunshine Aug. 17 in front of the Orinda Community Center. Many children were present, obviously also enjoying the evening out, even if some found the food a tad too spicy. Laura McDowell of What's Up Downtown Orinda was on hand, enjoying a glass of white wine from The Guzzler truck. "We are really excited about the turnout, especially given the fact that a lot of people are still out of town since school hasn't started," she said, adding, "Hopefully the momentum will build and create a new Orinda tradition."
While the event appeared popular with Orindans, local restaurateurs were a bit taken aback by the project at first but are getting into the spirit of things by starting a project of their own: Dine Out Orinda will offer patrons a 10 percent discount on some upcoming Thursday evenings. Having only learned about the food truck event from a Chamber of Commerce newsletter, business owners met with Chamber Executive Director Sophie Braccini, Interim City Manager Steve Salomon and Planning Director Drummond Buckley and others to discuss the situation. Although the meeting started out a bit rocky, Salomon said, it turned around by the end, with the plan for the dining out promotion coming together and plans for two additional meetings in September to talk about ways that the city, chamber, and restaurant owners can enhance restaurant business in the community and about the food trucks, and how the restaurants might get involved in that as well.
There is potential to have a very good outcome, according to Salomon, who suggested that the Dine Out Orinda plan could be extended to other kind of events, such as the Fourth of July or Cal Shakes. Salomon noted that local restaurants in Berkeley, for example, offer discounts to patrons of Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In the past, he said, Orinda folks haven't worked together as well as they could, and he hopes to see that change.
Salomon acknowledged that parking is a problem in Orinda but pointed out that it is a good problem to have. Some places have plenty of parking but nobody shows up. Some solutions were identified in the Urban Land Institute report on downtown development. In the short term, Salomon said, the city can work on those if that is what the community and the council want to have happen. One suggestion is to use Bryant Way for additional parking.
The weekly Street Feast food truck event will continue on Thursdays, from 5 to 9 p.m. through Oct. 19 in front of the Orinda Community Center.

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