The Gazebo Gardens’ Food Truck Nights in Fresno
Keep on Truckin'April 2015
By Fache Desrochers
Photos: Peterr Amend
It’s the simple things in life that often give us the most joy. It’s certainly fun to dress up and do it big, but there’s no denying the unadulterated pleasure of something like eating a delicious treat from a snack stand with the sun warm on your face. Or sipping a cold beer in a lovely park, the smell of flowers mixing with the aroma of hops on
your tongue. Or sitting shoulder to shoulder with your neighbors, while live music underscores your conversation. The best of all these worlds don’t come together often, but when they do, it’s nothing short of magical. But if you just can’t wait until the next summer music festival or casual garden party, Fresno’s Gazebo Gardens has got you more than covered with their Food Truck Nights.
Gazebo Gardens is one of Fresno’s most time-honored businesses. The nursery has been there since 1922, and the current owners, partners Brian Guerrero and Natalie Clark, are about the seventh stewards of the space. “We’re the oldest, funkiest nursery between San Francisco and L.A.,” Guerrero says with a grin.
Gazebo Gardens is an established expert in landscaping and plants of all types, though roses have long been what they are known for. In fact, the specialist that developed their famous Rose Formula has worked at the nursery for 30 years. And that’s exactly the spirit of Gazebo Gardens: Simplicity, local integrity, and community. This makes it easy to understand exactly how Food Truck Night sprung up: Just as it happens with plants, the culture of the local community took root in the rich, open soil that the pair has been carefully cultivating.
There was a time when the classic taco truck was the only thing representing what has now become a full-blown gastronomic movement. And although nothing can beat one’s favorite roadside carne asada, the food truck culture has come a long way very quickly. In recent years, food trucks have enjoyed a contagious popularity and are staples in most American cities. Now, amongst the roses at Gazebo Gardens, this phenomenon has found its Valley footing.
It all started in September 2013, when Guerrero and Clark decided to host a few fundraisers at the nursery. They promoted their events with local food trucks and craft beer; and the resultant turnout ended up blocking the bordering Van Ness Avenue with people. And so, Food Truck Night burst into bloom. The event was initially held only on Saturdays, but community enthusiasm was such that it quickly expanded to Fridays, as well as Thursdays in the spring and fall. The event is held from 5 to 9 pm on all three nights (rain or shine), and features a fleet of food trucks situated amongst the roses, an excellent selection of freshly poured craft beer and local music. There is also a pervasive sense of friendliness and community, which has been carefully encouraged by Guerrero and Clark, who set up the beer garden to facilitate togetherness. “We decided to install tiny bistro tables and communal beer hall tables, which make it so you have to sit next to people you don’t know,” says Guerrero. “And people seem to like that. When I’ve been in Europe and other places where that kind of seating is common, I’ve noticed that it seems to be intentional…everyone has to get together. So we tried to keep that spirit of encouraging closeness and friendliness.”
While clustered at these tables, patrons can enjoy a range of cuisine that includes Korean barbecue, gourmet pizza, homemade ice cream, breakfast-for-dinner, tamales and fusion tacos, to name just a few. And it seems as though with every visit, a new truck is offering up its own imaginative specialties.
Once you have your choice draft in one hand and delicious treat in the other, it’s time to enjoy the sounds of the evening. Live music accompanies every Food Truck Night, with Thursdays featuring open mic nights, and art hops occurring on the first Thursday of every month.
So whether you come for the cuisine, the brews, the sounds, the sights or the cozy community feel, you will find yourself surrounded by like-minded neighbors who are brimming with good spirits, and happy to see you. “The interesting thing is that we haven’t advertised this much at all, and yet it’s got a substantial following of a few thousand people,” says Guerrero. “And we love it. On the average Food Truck Night, everyone comes out. Couples with their dogs, friends in groups, families with kids, everyone. It’s great to be able to see all our neighbors here, having a good time.”
Exquisite food, fine beer, great music and an excellent crowd. The only thing missing now from Food Truck Night is you.
Gazebo Gardens • 3204 N. Van Ness Blvd., Fresno
Food Trucks and Live Music Friday and Saturday 5-9 pm
Spring & Fall Thursdays 5-9 pm
(559) 222-7673 • www.gazebogardens1922.com
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