Online map tracks the trucks

With dozens of excellent local food trucks, it can be a challenge to keep track of where to find them. A new app aims to help with that. Kristie Reece— by day a crime analyst for the City of Toledo— has debuted her new side project: An interactive Food Truck Tracker Map. “The purpose of the map is to help customers, or potential customers, locate their favorite food trucks, and to discover new trucks that they don’t know exist,” Reece explains.

“With the way things currently are, it can be really difficult to find a truck if you don’t already know the schedule of the one you’re looking for.  Or maybe you want to get a cheeseburger, but you don’t know, for instance, that the Beastro Burger truck exists. The goal of this app is to collect all this information in one spot, so that it’s easily accessible.”

3-1 CHOWLINE Kristie Reese

Kristie Reece

Toledo to Go
The map, which debuted online at the beginning of the year, is actually an offshoot of another project. In March, 2020, the Toledo to Go Facebook group created a web document giving area businesses a place to list their information, hoping to draw attention during the pandemic. Reece had been toying with the idea of creating a web map to accompany the document.

“I (thought), while I’m at it, I should add this component for food trucks, because I really struggle trying to find them. I was on a mission to find Fat Man’s BBQ ribs but they didn’t have a Facebook page that said where they were. So struggles like that, trying to find my favorite food trucks, sparked the idea for the app.”

Reece has worked on the solo project for a couple months now. Public interest has taken off since she announced the map’s existence on Facebook. “I suspect with the gained interest in the food truck side of things, I’m going to be working on it a lot more. Actually, right nopw, I’m expanding the site.”

ExploreToledo
Reece purchased the domain name ExploreToledo.com to host the map and information is growing as truck operators begin to get word about the map. Operators have provided feedback to her, which has led to streamlining ways to add future events. “Some of them already have events planned through the entire summer. So a part of this web buildup that I’m now working on is adding accounts so food truck owners can register— and it is all completely free. With a free account, they can put in their basic information,” she said. “Truck operators have full control over how their business is perceived in the app.”

Helping locals 
Reece has added an additional section to the site for other area businesses. “I do want to expand off of what the initial idea was, to help all of our local businesses, local restaurants, local retailers, local boutiques,” she said. “Pretty much anything that’s a locally-owned business, I’m cool with it being on the site.”

As food truck season gears up, Reece hopes her project will give area entrepreneurs a boost. “I think excitement will build as I collect more information.  I have been directly messaging food truck operators to provide their schedules for the summer, so I can get those uploaded en masse.”

ExploreToledo.com

Janelle B. Smith

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