This year, our flagship event at Fort Mason Center had a season unlike any other. Besides serving 150,309 delicious mobile food items so far (yep, we counted) a lot of other really cool things happened — behind-the-scenes, on screens and IRL — and a lot of people came together to make it all worthwhile.
As we approach our final Friday night market of the year on October 26, we wanted to take a look back at some of our favorite moments from our eighth and, dare we say, tastiest season yet.
WE TOOK GOING GREEN TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Back in April, we made the switch to FreeWire’s eco-friendly Mobi Gen Flex battery powered generators for all of our mobile food needs at Fort Mason Center. Made possible through a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Mobi Gen provides five hours of zero-emissions power every Friday, allowing us to do away with two existing diesel-powered generators.
- That amounts to eliminating 10 gallons of diesel fuel at each event and cutting nearly 3 tons of CO2 emissions across the 2018 season (we’ve even got the video evidence to prove it).
And while this number is eye-popping, this was far from our only sustainability initiative this season. As part of our commitment to adopting green practices across all of our service offerings, we’ve made recycling and composting a top priority through our partnership with Clean Vibes, mandated the use of eco-friendly packaging and service ware, and are continuing to strive for zero waste at our events at both Fort Mason Center and the Presidio (held in partnership with the Presidio Trust).
WE DISCOVERED NEW FAVORITES
Our community of nearly 300 mobile food creators are at the core of what we do. While there’s never a shortage of love (and lineups) for many of our veteran creators, a few newcomers really stole the show in 2018.
One bite of Hot Bird’s mind-blowing, Nashville-style hot chicken (first made famous at Presidio Picnic earlier this season) was all anyone needed to get hooked, returning week after week for their flavorful, juicy and tender fried chicken sandwiches. As the only spot in the city to get your hands on them, we know we’ll be sorely missing Hot Bird in the Off the Grid offseason. Let’s also talk about Mama Lamees, who besides serving up insanely delicious Middle Eastern feasts, was recently awarded a certificate of honor from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
From Supervisor Hilary Ronen:
- “Thank you for pouring your heart, soul and prodigious talent into your cooking and sharing the vibrant cuisine of the Middle East with all of us!”
We’d be remiss not to mention DOUGHP — the female-owned purveyor of edible cookie dough who’s taken everything we already knew and loved about this nostalgic favorite, and surprised us with unique additions like marshmallow fluff, lemonade and snickerdoodle. If that wasn’t enough, founder Kelsey Witherow is taking the DOUGHP show on the road with the #Doughp4Hope tour in 2019 — a West Coast road trip that will see her spread the company’s message of “kindness through cookie dough” while raising awareness about mental health and addiction.
We’re proud to have played a small (but sweet) part in these mobile food entrepreneurs journeys and can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next season, and beyond.
WE FOUND A NEW (UNOFFICIAL) MASCOT
Always a regular at our Fort Mason Center market, San Francisco local Moose the Bulldog was given the honor of being our official event marshal for our Dog Days of Summer event back in September. Our four-legged — and delightfully wrinkly — buddy took over our Instagram feed for the evening to share his dog’s-eye-view of the sights, sounds and smells of Off the Grid.
- And while Moose is already a popular guy (some might even call him a social media influencer) he definitely acquired some new supporters while reminding folks that all of our markets are both human and pup-friendly.
In fact, dog parents can once again rejoice because fan favorite (and Moose approved) Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods will be posted up at our season finale this Friday, selling natural and organic pet foods prepared fresh in their San Francisco kitchen.
WE SERVED UP A FEW DRINKS, TOO
Okay, maybe more than just a few.
- More like 11,119 Magnolia Kolschs, 7,383 Moscow Mules, 10,801 IPAs, 6,333 Margarita Rosas, 4,776 Whiskey Teas and 2,903 Pinot Noirs.
Wethinks this was no accident, either. This year we aimed to improve our communal dining areas by bringing in beer garden tables, benches, and fire pits which made for the perfect place to kick back with a few friends and really enjoy our space. Our trusted bar partner, Rye on the Road, was our not-so-secret weapon for fuelling the festivities and could be found mixing up creative specials throughout the season (they’ll be on hand this Friday with the “Captain Crush” cocktail, featuring Captain Morgan, pineapple, ginger, lime and aromatic bitters).
Oh, and how could we forget our collaboration with Magnolia Brewing Co.? Our brut Saison style ale was the first ever custom Off the Grid beer sold at our markets — and, call us biased, but it was also the tastiest (and best looking) beer we’ve seen in a while, too.
WE BROUGHT PEOPLE TOGETHER
For the past 35 weeks, we brought thousands of people together every Friday night over a shared love of food and community – and that’s hands down the most rewarding thing about what we do at Off the Grid.
Whether its families with kids, friends looking for a fun night out, first dates, spontaneous connections or even marriage proposals (we know of at least one this season!), our hope is that Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center can bring endless opportunities for discovering and re-discovering the food, faces and facets of Bay Area area life that make it so special.
Said one guest in response to a survey about their experience, “Off the Grid is one of my favorite aspects of life in the Bay Area… I love food trucks and love that there are dedicated events where I can seek them out.”
- Said another, “Off the Grid is a very friendly atmosphere. It helps restore your faith in your community and mankind. It reminds us that people are generally good people.”
And that, folks, is what it’s really all about.
If you’ve missed any of the action this season so far, don’t fret — there’s still one last chance to get down to Fort Mason Center. Our final event of the season will feature a “greatest hits” VIP Tasting Ticket with our most popular items from the 2018, chances to win Off the Grid grub tokens redeemable at our year-round markets, quotable moments from @overheardsanfrancisco, Lion Dancing from Richard Ow Kung Fu, and then some.