Latin Bites is one of several popular food trucks that have regularly set up shop in Rosedale Mills over the past year.
Many Hopewell Valley shoppers consider Rosedale Mills on Route 31 to be one of those stores where you can buy a lot of different things – something for your pets here, something for your home and yard there. You may even know someone whose life partner ran up to Rosedale Mills for birdseed one day and came home with a chicken coop.
For the past 10 years, the 71-year-old Hart family business has also been known as the Pennington Farmers Market Seasonal Home, which is scheduled to reopen on Saturday May 29th.
But since last year, Rosedale Mills has been attracting customers for a whole new reason – one that has nothing to do with the farmers market or its core business.
Since last spring, it has been known throughout the region as a place to pick up great food from one of the many food trucks that now service the area.
This year, Rosedale Mills plans to rotate food trucks six days a week during the warmer months. The May diary has a mix of familiar favorites and first-time visitors (see page 6 for a full schedule).
While the coronavirus pandemic may have played a role in the unexpected success of food trucks at Rosedale Mills, the idea to invite them was to brainstorm before the pandemic. Manager Elizabeth Schreiber had the idea.
“She just thought it would be great fun having different trucks come here and provide our customers with lunch,” says Daria Williams, the Rosedale Mills employee who makes all the booking for the trucks. “And then with Covid it turned out that it was something safe that people could do. They haven’t eaten in restaurants but they could come here. “
They went out to bring a truck to the store five days a week. But it was a challenge at first. Food trucks like to set up in a place where they can expect enough customers to be served to make at least a modest profit. Rosedale Mills had no track record and had to convince her that a country store was such a place.
The Smokin ‘Addiction BBQ Food Truck will be in Rosedale Mills on Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th.
Williams says the business originally hired a consultant to help them connect with food truck operators and convince them to try Rosedale Mills. Some of these trucks have had enough success that they agreed to return, and Williams says others believe in the business’s active online social media campaigns.
The script was reversed by late summer.
“We started advertising that we had food trucks in the store and other trucks saw what a great job we did for them and after a while they started reaching out to us,” says Williams .
It helped truck operators look for new opportunities after Covid closed many markets, festivals, and entertainment venues.
“The food trucks had lost all of their business for concerts and other events,” says Williams. “They had problems and had to completely change their business models to do their business in smaller places like this.”
Williams adds that the deal was not only good for the food trucks business; The food trucks were good for Rosedale Mills too. Both the trucks and Pennington Farmers Market have brought many new customers to the business in recent years.
“It definitely helped grow the business,” says Williams. “People driving by just stop because they see the trucks in the parking lot, and people standing in line also think of something to get from the store while they are there. We brought a lot of new people into the store. You have lunch and you come into the store and say, “Oh, we never knew you had so many different products.”
Trucks come from all over the general area. A popular truck, Latin Bites, is based in Manalapan and serves Cuban and Puerto Rican food. Dan’s Waffles is from Pennsauken and Donut Evolution, which cooks its sweet treats to order, is based in Aberdeen Township.
And a lot of trucks are stationed right here in Mercer County. The Savory Leaf Café is based in Lawrence and D&D Catering is based in Hamilton.
Big Sid’s Southern Cuisine is a food truck that drove to Rosedale Mills last year and is returning for another season. Big Sid’s Sid Johnson can sometimes be found at the Paketeria Food Market on South Olden Avenue in Trenton. And when he’s not there, he’s on the go, serving his seafood and southern home-style specialties.
“I’ve never been so on track to do anything,” says Johnson. “After they called me I went up there before we started just to see how it was and it was pretty busy out there.”
Johnson said he saw Rosedale Mills as a great opportunity to reach new customers. “I said, ‘Well I’ll try, why not, I had nothing to lose,” he says.
He says customers responded well to his homemade dishes.
“It’s a good place,” he says. “We make it work out of it. If we bring good quality food they will support us, and if we don’t we won’t see it anymore. So far, many customers have returned to us. I think they like the quality of our activities. “
Johnson says he saw his Trenton customers at Rosedale Mills, and he also saw people he first served in the parcel shop at Rosedale Mills.
Big Sid’s will be in Rosedale Mills on May 28th and 29th. The truck is known for its seafood dishes like grilled salmon, grilled prawns, fried prawns, fish po’boys, crab balls (“They’re really crab cheeks, but they’re we balls so we call them crab balls,” says Johnson.
But Johnson says pulled pork always sells really well when he goes to Hopewell, so he always makes sure he has pulled pork on hand when he’s there.
“I think it’s a nice place to work, the people are friendly, the staff is nice,” he says. “I like to fish, so I go to the store to get some fishing items from time to time. I use them to get my propane. It’s very convenient for me and I think it’s good for them because when we have good food not only do Trenton people come to visit us, but they also go to their shop which is a good thing. “
Currently, Rosedale Mills only books one truck per day Tuesday through Sunday. Their permission allows two trucks at a time, but Williams says they don’t want to pit trucks against each other for customers.
But she adds that in the future, the store could book a savory truck and a sweet truck at the same time so customers can get both lunch and dessert.
Rosedale Mills, 101 State Route 31, Pennington, NJ 08534. Phone: (609) 737-2008.
Daria Williams also books food trucks for other venues and events. For more information, call (908) 328-2177 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food trucks are always on site from at least 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For the latest updates, follow Rosedale Mills on Facebook.
May Food Truck Schedule at Rosedale Mills
Saturday May 1st: Latin Bites
Sunday May 2nd: Dan’s waffles
Tuesday, May 4th: D&D Catering
Wednesday May 5th: D&D Catering
Thursday May 6th: Playa Bowls
Friday May 7th: Smokin ‘Addiction BBQ
Saturday May 8th: Smokin ‘Addiction
Sunday May 9th: Donut Evolution
Tuesday May 11th: Cousins Maine Lobster
Wednesday May 12th: Latin Bites
Thursday May 13th: Latin Bites
Friday May 14th: Dan’s Backyard BBQ
Saturday, May 15th: sweet concessions
Sunday May 16: Dan’s waffles
Tuesday May 18th: Latin Bites
Wednesday May 19th: Latin Bites
Friday, May 21: The hearty café
Saturday May 22nd: TBA
Sunday May 23rd: Dan’s waffles
Tuesday May 25th: Cousin’s Lobster
Wednesday, May 26th: D&D Catering
Thursday, May 27th: D&D Catering
Friday, May 28th: Big Sid’s southern cuisine
Saturday May 29th: Big Sid’s
Sunday May 30th: Maui Lu Hawaiian BBQ