PLEASANT HILL -- This is the latest city in Contra Costa County to be lured by the siren song of the food truck.
Off the Grid, which runs food truck markets in 22 locations across the Bay Area, plans to put on a weekly event from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays on Trelany Road behind City Hall. The street food extravaganza could kick off next month if the city approves the company's application.
The market will begin with about nine food trucks offering a rotating variety of cuisines -- including savory dishes and sweets -- drawn from the more than 175 vendors who work with Off the Grid, said Benjamin Himlan, director of business development.
The Pleasant Hill event, which Himlan described as "by far the most unique" he's seen in the Bay Area, will make use of the rolling lawn and modernist gazebo. Picture families perched on Adirondack chairs noshing on a gooey grilled cheese sandwich or breaking the brittle sugar topping on a creme brulee while enjoying live music.
Off the Grid eschews traditional advertising in favor of Twitter, Facebook and a biweekly email newsletter it blasts out to 60,000 subscribers. The community markets typically draw 500 to 1,000 people, some of whom travel from far beyond the city limits to visit their favorite trucks, according to Himlan.
Councilman Michael Harris, who got a taste of what Off the Grid has to offer last year during a Contra Costa Mayors Conference meeting in El Cerrito, was impressed by the quality of the food.
"I thought this was a perfect fit for our city," said Harris, who lobbied for multiple dessert trucks.
Himlan downplayed the possibility of tension between the food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants.
"It's not necessarily competition over customers, but over parking," he said, noting that the adjacent shopping center lots and the one at City Hall should provide plenty.
Harris reported that El Cerrito's mayor told him that Off the Grid's Wednesday evening market has drawn more customers to nearby restaurants.
Long popular in the hip neighborhoods of San Francisco and Oakland, in the past year food trucks have rolled east into the Contra Costa County suburbs. Off the Grid opened its El Cerrito market in July and the Saturday event at the Willows shopping center in Concord last fall. Food Truck Mafia, the other major player on the Bay Area's mobile dining scene, launched a Saturday market at the Martinez marina last month.
Food truck market The Bend is scheduled to open at the end of the month on the outskirts of downtown Walnut Creek, and Off the Grid has its sights on that city, too.
For details about Off the Grid, go to www.offthegridsf.com.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.