The exceedingly popular San Francisco Street Food Festival, put on by La Cocina, isn't in the cards this year. The festival started in 2009 as a way for the non-profit, which is an incubator for low-income food businesses, to showcase its vendors.
It immediately caught the interest of hungry San Franciscans, swelling to include over 80 vendors and over 80,000 attendees. The popularity almost caused a cancellation last year as well, forcing the event to make the move to Pier 70 to accommodate the hungry masses after it was booted from its original location in the Mission in 2014.
But while the event's success has been exciting, it's also overwhelming for a small non-profit, whose main goal is to help businesses succeed in San Francisco's competitive landscape. The nuts and bolts of running an event that big take a lot of energy and resources, something that can take a toll on a small organization like La Cocina. That's why the event is taking a year off, according to director Caleb Zigas, to rethink how the event can get back to its roots: supporting producers. The structure of the festival was always intended to pay vendors more than the organizers, something that became harder as the event swelled.
"As the festival grew it became harder for individuals to make money, and we lost some of the excitement from chefs about being involved," Zigas told Eater. "That's internal to La Cocina, and external to the whole Bay Area; I think here's fatigue around large scale food events and what people are asked to sacrifice."
So, unfortunately for lovers of street food, no playground of stick food, dumplings and tacos will grace Pier 70 this year. However, Zigas said there will be a smaller, ticketed event to take its place later in the summer. Think potluck, tacos, live music and much rejoicing. Stay tuned for more details very soon.