Super Saturday: DECL Pancake Breakfast and What the Truck?! at Al Fresco

If you weren’t downtown on June 9, 2012, you missed a heck of a party. Dubbed “Super Saturday”, June 9 saw a convergence of several high-traffic, high energy events in downtown Edmonton, including the DECL Pancake Breakfast, City Market, Pride Parade, TEDx and the Al Fresco Block Party. I am happy to say that I was involved in two of them.

DECL Pancake Breakfast

I took on the lead role this year in planning Downtown Edmonton Community League (DECL)’s annual fundraising Pancake Breakfast. All funds raised are donated directly to Al Fresco’s charity of choice, chosen to be Zebra Child Protection Centre this year.

DECL Pancake Breakfast

Zebra Child Protection Centre’s display

It was a great experience working with Sobeys on 104th, our long-standing lead sponsor who donated the pancakes, sausages and coffee that we served, and Affordable Storage on 104th, who secured a large donation of juice boxes for use at the event. Sobeys and Affordable Storage demonstrated to us again that they are community-minded businesses who didn’t hesitate before committing their support.

DECL Pancake Breakfast

Scott shows ‘em how it’s done

We were also happy to secure a prominent location to set up our breakfast this year. In 2011, we were relegated to the two lanes of Jasper Avenue, out of the sightline of City Market shoppers. This year, the market and the City were amenable for us to host the event in the intersection of 104 Street and 102 Avenue. As a result of this and the good weather, our lines stretched longer than we had ever seen before.

DECL Pancake Breakfast

Around the block!

For a donation of $2, hungry patrons received a plate of pancakes and sausages, served up by enthusiastic DECL board members and volunteers. They were in the weeds for most of the morning as the crowds grew ever larger, but they handled it with grace and smiles to spare!

DECL Pancake Breakfast

Love the aprons!

The drawback to our location was having to vacate the intersection by 11:30am, given the Pride Parade was set to charge down the street beginning at noon. As a result, we had no flexibility of extending our breakfast service beyond 11am, and unfortunately, disappointed some who had been waiting in line.

DECL Pancake Breakfast

Great morning for an outdoor breakfast

At the end of the day, DECL was able to raise and donate over $1150 to Zebra. Thanks again to the generous donations from those who took part!

What the Truck?! @ Al Fresco

Mack and I were excited to take on a more active role relating to the Al Fresco Block Party this year. We’ve attended the festival every year since its inception in 2008, and as this was our second year as residents on 104 Street, we relished the opportunity to positively contribute to the neighbourhood.

What the Truck?!

Thanks to Brittney who snapped this photo of us before the madness began!

I mentioned in a previous post that the Planning Committee thought integrating food trucks into this year’s event was an ideal way to offer food, and Mack and I agreed. Servicing street party patrons than with curbside cuisine seemed like the perfect fit. It was also a great opportunity to be a part of something larger, and plug into the expected crowds that would gather downtown to take in one or more events. Rough estimates for that Saturday pegged the numbers at around 30,000.

What the Truck?!

Al Fresco from above

What the Truck?! @ Al Fresco was our first for 2012, and our largest event to date, with ten vendors in total. We took over both the intersection of 104 Street and 102 Avenue, as well as the street directly north of that. The space afforded us to have a seating area in the intersection, and room for many strategically placed lines.

What the Truck?!

Smokehouse BBQ had the longest line all night

We have to commend the City Market on an efficient load out (an hour!), which enabled us to load in nearly all trucks in less than forty minutes. Special thanks also goes out to Tri-Line Disposal, who donated not only several large collection bins, but also smaller wheeled bins for organics and recyclables, which greatly helped us control the on-site garbage.

What the Truck?!

Busy square

With the skies threateningly overcast for most of the afternoon, Mack and I were worried that a downpour would lead to a dip in attendance. But we were very fortunate to have a solid three hours of operation, as the downpour didn’t begin until 8pm. Until then, we had a very strong crowd enjoying the food and music who didn’t seem to mind the grey skies.

Mack and I even had the opportunity to try some food on our own! Battista’s Calzones was on our list, as WTT was the site of the Calzonemobile’s debut. They were the first truck to sell out.

What the Truck?!

All smiles inside the Calzonemobile

We also tried out the BBQ pork and custard steamed buns from The Lingnan Express. I love that they consistently experiment with items never found on any of their restaurant menus; I know I appreciate it as an eater!

What the Truck?!

Steamed buns

As we spent most of our time at WTT, we didn’t get a chance to take in the rest of Al Fresco this year. Some of the feedback we received, however, was that the stage set up at the south end of 104 Street divided the festivities, and prevented essential north-south sightlines. As a result, many patrons who visited WTT or the extended patios and Melcor tasting lot had no idea anything else was going on down the road. We wholeheartedly agree, and this is something the Planning Committee will address next year.

What the Truck?!

Extended patios from above

The weather also was a factor in the TEDx after-party shutting down early. Their flashy stage and screens set up on 104 Street south of 104 Avenue were only functional for about half an hour until the rain forced them to tear down, lest the equipment sustain water damage. Mack and I were too late to see the stage in its full glory, but from our balcony, it was a pretty epic view.

What the Truck?!

All the way to 104 Avenue

Being a part of Al Fresco, the vendors all agreed to donate proceeds from the evening to Zebra Child Protection Centre. In all, the donations totalled about $4,000!

What the Truck?!

There were a lot of “sold out” signs that night

Thanks again to everyone who came out and supported What the Truck?! Thanks to our tireless vendors for putting street eats on the map in Edmonton. And thanks to the few unsung heroes who helped us pick up trash and move tables after dark.

We still have plans for a few more events this summer, but until then, don’t forget about the final Truck Stop in Old Strathcona on June 27, 5-8pm. Hope to see you there!

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