Of the five local food trucks that paid $2,500 to sell outside the Redskins training camp, only two bothered to show up for the camp's final week: Red Eye Cookie Co. and the Boardwalk, a hot-dog stand.
"The other guys stopped coming regularly last week," Boardwalk owner John Morrison said Monday, the last of the 13 days of practice. Among the food trucks that bailed were Carytown Burgers & Fries, Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue and BoDillaz Famous Quesadillas.
That Morrison was still standing wasn't a testament to his success, or his hope that he might sell more hot dogs that day. It was a point of personal pride, he said: "When I commit to something, I commit."
Morrison reported selling an average of 15 hot dogs a day ($3.35 each, unlimited toppings). By comparison, he says, he moves an average of 100 to 150 hot dogs during lunch at one of his regular spots.
It was with much fanfare that Mayor Dwight Jones announced that the city had brokered a deal to allow local vendors to sell products inside and around the Redskins camp. The city was responding to complaints from restaurateurs who felt slighted during the camp's first year, when only a handful of chain restaurants were allowed to sell food inside the gates. The mayor's announcement also drew a backlash from some food truck owners, who balked at the $2,500 fee to participate.
The events management company that the city hired to operate the camp, SMG, says it plans to meet with vendors to discuss possible improvements next year.
The mayor's press secretary, Tammy Hawley, says the city is monitoring the situation: "Whether this model fits the event is something we will all have to access and analyze when the event closes out to determine how we move forward."
Morrison theorized Monday that the food truck court's location might have been the problem. It was on Leigh Street, around the corner from and out of sight of the camp's entrance on DMV Drive.
But the two local restaurants allowed to set up inside the camp didn't seem to fare much better. Herman Baskerville, the owner of Big Herm's Kitchen, said Monday that he barely broke even.
The sales were a lot less than I anticipated," Baskerville said. "I've heard the crowd is about 50-percent smaller than last year."
There were two-hour breaks between morning and afternoon practices last year. This season had a four-hour gap. Baskerville said fewer people stayed for lunch.
He said he's hopeful the Redskins will tweak their schedule next year, and with that in mind, he'd participate again. "I'm not trying to be the squeaky wheel," he says. "This is good exposure."