Sonoma foodies get a taste Friday of a trend that's been rocking the Bay Area: Food trucks are coming to Sonoma.
Or more specifically, they're coming to 's Friday night music event.
The winery has partnered with Andrew Siegal, owner of Dim Sum Charlie, a popular Napa-based mobile dim sum unit, and founder of Napa's "Food Truck Friday" event, which has received national press and local acclaim.
"[Sebastiani] wanted to have something fun, they’ve already been doing food, and a vision was born," said Siegal. "We liked each other's businesses."
According to Siegal, all of Napa's favorite acts will trek to Sonoma for the event — plus live music and firepits — including Ghetto Fork Catering, Mark's The Spot and Dim Sum Charlie.
But Christopher Johnson, Sebastiani tasting room manager and organizer of the Sonoma event, is quick to emphasize that even though Sonoma's "Food Truck Friday" will have similar management to the Napa's event, it will be completely different.
"For us it's just another food option for the patrons that come to our regular Friday night music events," says Johnson.
Johnson plans to keep the Sabastiani event small, hosting between five and eight vendors, a handful of whom will be local. The night will also host well-known San Francisco "guest" trucks, such as Sam's Chowdermobile and the Creme Brulee Cart, who'll mingle alongside the more familiar North Bay vendors.
It's important for Johnson that the event — an offshoot of Sebastiani's Friday night music series — remain family friendly.
Unlike Napa's food truck event, no outside alcohol will be permitted ("Obviously our wine will be available for purchase," says Johnson) and there will be rigorous carding to prevent minors from imbibing.
It makes sense that Johnson is cautious about the new undertaking — other regional food truck events have been shuttered due to noise and permitting complaints.
Food trucks aren't expressly banned in the Sonoma municipal code — in fact, according to Sonoma Planing Director David Goodison, they're not mentioned at all.
"There’s a section of the code which says that anything that isn’t identified as being allowed is prohibited," says Goodison, "so under that one section [mobile food units] would be prohibited."
Now, with the popularity of food trucks forcing the issue, mobile food may enter the city's discourse.
"It appears the majority of the planning commission would like to make some kind of change to the code so that there’s some allowance of them," said Goodison.
Not all city officials are pleased with the idea, as Joanne Sanders hinted when she announced at Monday's city council meeting: "I just want residents to be aware that [mobile food trucks] are not paying taxes to the city when they're doing this."
So far, Sebastiani has been granted a one-time use permit for this Friday's food truck event and the Sonoma Planning Commission will decide next month whether to grant a long-term permit to the event.
Several factors will ease the process: the Sebastiani event will be held at the edge of their parking lot — containing plenty of parking for diners and won't tie up street parking. The food trucks will be placed to block noise from traveling outside the Sebastiani complex, and the music will take place indoors through a grandfathered-in permit that's allowed Sebastiani to host their music nights for three years.
Also, for Johnson, keeping everyone happy is first priority for what he sees as a community event.
"I think what they did in Napa has been great for Napa, but we're a winery that the neighborhood has grown up around. We have to be respectful of our neighbors," said Johnson.
Catch Food Truck Friday on the last Friday of every month at Sebastiani Winery, 389 4th Street East. Live music, dancing and of course, food trucks. The event launches this Friday at 6 p.m., lasts until just after 9:30.