How to survive Louisville Mayor Fischer’s food truck lunches

It was a beautiful day for a food truck gathering.

The good news: Through at least October, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is promoting monthly, lunchtime food truck roundups near city hall.

The bad news: This event can go from awesome to awful in about two seconds if you’re not prepared.

Fischer promoted the first of these events in April. Food trucks from across the land lined Jefferson and Sixth streets surrounding Metro Hall and served mobile eats to downtown diners. It went over so well that Fischer promoting the whole she-bang each month, the Courier-Journal reports.

The next gathering takes place today from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. At least nine trucks will be there.

I was at the first food truck lunch, as were what seemed like a third of people who work downtown. There was just too much goodness happening to keep people away. There were about a dozen food trucks in one convenient location. But with the crowds comes the pain of long lines and growling stomachs.

I will go to at least one more of these food truck gatherings while the weather is nice. But here are some lessons I learned from my first visit:

  • Don’t come hungry. I stood in line for about 30 minutes to place an order at San Diego Sandwich Works. Then I waited another 10 for them to prepare my order (which was DELISH, by the way). If I hadn’t had my usual mid-morning snack, my stomach would have started sounding like a Barry White melody. And speaking of …
  • Clear your schedule in the half hour before and after lunch. Add up the time from above. I spent about 40 minutes just waiting, which left 20 minutes of travel and eat time. I’m sure things will speed up as the food truck employees learn to work such a large crowd. But if they don’t, and number of customers grows, you better learn how to walk and eat.
  • Use your time wisely. Avoid the peak noon to 1 p.m. lunch hour. Consider taking your lunch at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m.
  • Prepare for the elements. Bring sunglasses, an umbrella and something you can MacGyver into a fan.
  • You probably won’t eat with your work friends. With so many choices, a group of more than three people is not going to agree on one location at which to get food. It’s every white-collar worker for himself.
  • Have a second, third and fourth option ready. Yes, the lines are long, but some longer than others. If the wait for your favorite place is just ungodly, try to go there the next month and move on.
  • Carry cash. Don’t be the person who waits until they’re at the ordering window to ask, “Do you take cards?” Because if they don’t, you’re going to be pissed and you’ll have to either wait all over again at a place that does take cards or find an ATM. You don’t have time for all that. Better safe with cash than sorry and hungry.
  • Study the menus before you go or while you’re in line. This is similar to the “carry cash” tip. Don’t wait until the last minute to make a decision. You had TWENTY MINUTES to decide what you wanted to eat. Dawdling at the front of the line will only draw scowls and passive-aggressive sighs.
  • If all else fails, head to Fourth Street. My work buddy and I both got San Diego Sandwich Works last month. Immediately after the cashier took his order, the truck had to shut down for the day because they ran out of food. The people behind my buddy were LIVID. In that situation, you might as well walk down to Fourth Street, the closest street with a variety of food options that can get you back in the office on time.