Following the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s announcement to extend late night hours on Saturday and Sunday nights, the Office of Food Initiatives proclaimed that food trucks in three locations in Boston will have the option to stay open until midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The late-night pilot program, scheduled to begin on April 1st, will launch on Commonwealth Avenue outside Boston University’s Morse Auditorium, Boylston Street outside the Boston Public Library and Opera Place at Northeastern University. Food truck vendors were informed of the opportunity through email on Feb. 25, said Interim Mobile Food Truck Coordinator Emily Benjamin Finn.
“We have heard feedback from the trucks themselves and also constituents looking for the trucks to be vending later,” she said. “This conversation has been in the works for awhile, so it was very exciting to get this going.”
Each January, all Boston food trucks take part in a lottery system to determine their locations and schedules. Because the pilot program was approved after the lottery, trucks currently vending at the three designated late-night sites will have the opportunity to participate. Food trucks have the ability to change their schedules on a quarterly basis, so the opportunity for other trucks to participate in the program may arise after its initial launch.
The schedule for the late-night program is still evolving, but the Office of Food Initiatives hopes to start communicating with food trucks vending at the late night sites as soon as possible, Finn said.
“It’s really exciting both for food truck vendors themselves and also for food truck customers,” she said. “It will be a great boost for their business, given the amount of foot traffic in those areas on weekend evenings. And it also is a great opportunity for customers. It keeps these really great food establishments open and available to them for an extra hour, so I’m happy that we’re able to make this happen.”
Bon Me, a business with three food truck locations and one restaurant, runs a food truck at the BU Morse Auditorium, where they serve dinner Monday through Thursday nights. Owner Patrick Lynch said it is unlikely they will take part in the late night program.
“Usually, we close at BU at 7:30,” he said. “We probably won’t look to stay there later. We could go later, but most of the business is people going to and from classes.”
Lynch said the BU East Campus location might not be the best place to test out the late night food truck program.
“It depends a lot on the location,” he said. “Locations where a lot of people are out late in the evening would make a lot of sense for a late night food trucks. But I think BU East is mainly near a lot of classroom buildings. There’s not a lot of people there late at night.”
Several residents said the late night food truck program is going to bring a new wave of innovation to the streets of Boston.
Lisanna Paulino, 21, of Allston, said late night food trucks would create a more exciting nightlife for Boston, something the city currently lacks.
“Boston should have more [late night food trucks] because it creates more of a nightlife, and that’s something we don’t have and I wish we had more of,” she said. “When you’re hungry late at night, there aren’t a lot of places open, and a food truck is the first place I’d go.”
David Lewis, 24, of Brighton, said food trucks are convenient ways for people to find food, and creating expanded nighttime hours will expand their usefulness to consumers.
“It makes it more available for people to get late-night food, as opposed to ordering out,” he said. “Say someone just came out of a club or a bar and they’re downtown and they know they’re not going to get back to their apartment for another 45 minutes. Why not have a food truck that’s going to be right by that bar you just got out of?”
Princess Mansaray, 19, of Dorchester, said late-night food trucks could create more street violence, but overall, it will be a great addition to the city.
“I’m hoping it won’t allow people to stay out late too much just because they expect there to always be food somewhere,” she said. “When you have a lot of people out at night, it can cause trouble. People get rowdy at night. So there’s always a negative side to it, but altogether, it’s going to be a good thing.”