MARTINEZ -- After a successful one-day run last fall, food trucks return to the Martinez marina next weekend.
Beginning March 15, Food Truck Mafia -- one of the biggest players on the Bay Area's thriving food truck scene -- is bringing a weekly event to the marina from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
With food truck market The Bend opening at the end of the month on the outskirts of downtown Walnut Creek and Off The Grid drawing crowds on Saturdays in Concord, in less than a year the mobile food trend has taken off in central Contra Costa County.
But the Martinez marina food truck market almost didn't happen.
Last year, Sham Shivaie and Javid Ebrahimi planned to bring their Taste of the World Market, a collection of food trucks representing diverse cuisines, to the marina every Saturday afternoon. The inaugural event in September drew several hundred people, but the partners soon learned that Bay Area food truck behemoth Off the Grid was moving into the Willows Shopping Center in Concord, also on Saturdays. When their plans for a lunchtime food truck market in Walnut Creek fell through, Shivaie and Ebrahimi had to give up their dream of bringing mobile dining to Martinez.
But Ebrahimi, whose family owns the Copper Skillet restaurant in downtown Martinez, remained bullish on the marina's potential. So last fall he called Food Truck Mafia co-owner April Bibbins and sold her on the idea.
"Food Truck Mafia's a big name. They don't bring little trucks, they bring the big trucks," said Ebrahimi, who's taking his Persian food truck to the marina. "They're going to bring them, and the city's going to love them, and there's no reason it won't be successful."
Food Truck Mafia puts on lunchtime and dinner "Street Eats" events in several cities, including San Leandro, Milpitas, Fremont and the Bishop Ranch office park in San Ramon.
On March 15, visitors to the Martinez marina will be able to sample frozen custard, kebabs, Asian fusion barbecue and treats from four other food trucks. Vendors hawking clothing, handbags and other non-edibles also will be invited to participate in the weekly event, Bibbins said. There also will be entertainment and activities for children.
Although her event will overlap with Off the Grid's Concord market, Bibbins believes she won't have any trouble getting trucks to come to Martinez.
"I have a really good feeling that it is going to be great," she said. "I've gotten a lot of great feedback."
Restaurants in downtown Martinez have been supportive of the market, said Leanne Peterson, Main Street Martinez executive director. She believes the market will attract new people to Martinez who may return to try the city's brick-and-mortar eateries.
"Anything that's going to bring a lot of people to and through the downtown is a good thing," Peterson said.
For more information about Food Truck Mafia, go to www.thefoodtruckmafia.com.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.