Twitter for Your Lunch

Zach Brooks, the blogger behind MidtownLunch.com, often reviews food trucks’ burritos and gyros, and has been paying attention to territorial food carts’ battle with “hipster trucks,” as Mr. Brooks described them. They aren’t so welcomed by the local vendors who have been serving on the same streets for generations. Twitter is “just the perfect vehicle”—ha!—“for these trucks,” Mr. Brooks said, while they’re trying to find a spot that won’t offend their neighbors, “until they settle into a rhythm.”

Mr. Brooks said Twitter is also a quick way to build the foodie community. Not only can his readers comment on his blog, but they can follow him on Twitter and get updates as he walks midtown streets, taking pictures of the latest food carts, discovering hidden treasures or new restaurants opening with specials. A recent tweet from @MidtownLunch: “got a burrito from the cart on Park & 53rd (report coming soon) followed by 3” of pizza, and free gelato (!) from Golosi.”

“They feel like they’re at lunch with me,” Mr. Brooks told The Observer.

 

“IT’S A GOOD WAY to create a dialogue with your people,” concurred Thomas DeGeest, founder of Wafels & Dinges, who was standing beside his Tweety Bird–yellow truck. He likes to point out that, for the record, Wafels & Dinges had the first Twittering food truck in New York. (First tweet from @waffletruck on May 26, 2008: “Memorial Day weekend – we’re taking off Saturday through Monday!!”) It also has a blog.

“I worked as a management consultant at IBM before becoming the waffle guy,” explained Mr. DeGeest, who often recommended social networking tools to his clients.

Twitter is his tool of convenience, he explained. During the first months of his business, he’d call his wife from the truck. “‘O.K., now we’re here, at Broadway and Prince Street,’ and she’d have to update the Web site. I drove her crazy,” Mr. DeGeest said. Now he just updates the truck’s location from his BlackBerry.

The Wafels & Dinges truck wafts a smell of toasted sugar and fresh coffee at its usual spot on 22nd Street and Sixth Avenue, but Mr. DeGeest and his employee (and a part-time actor), Joe Kurtz, broadcast waffle specials and free toppings on Twitter. Mr. Kurtz will sometimes ask people to do an activity, like impersonating a Muppet character or bringing him Easter candy, to get some extra strawberries on their soft and chewy Belgian waffle. Last week was Mr. DeGeest’s birthday, so everyone got a free topping—no password or silliness required. He told The Observer he plans on hooking up his next truck with another high-tech service, GPS tracking, so customers can follow it in real time. Hopefully, the truck will show up fast, since according to a recent @WaffleTruck Twitter update: “Wafels & Dinges is now being towed to the transmission shop … it’s getting a new engine/transmission this week. Stay put!”

See: Is Kogi BBQ, the Most Famous LA Taco Truck, Coming to NYC?

greagan@observer.com