INDIANAPOLIS — Throughout the shutdown, supporting local restaurants by ordering takeout has been a go-to for many Hoosiers. Which is fortunate because many of us are starting to get pretty tired of our own cooking at this point.
But what if I told you that you don’t need to leave your neighborhood to enjoy some delicious local food?
This time it’s coming to you… on this trip In Your Neighborhood.
“I own Far-Out Fred’s Food Truck, and through the years of running it, I developed a lot of friends in the food truck industry, and we started an online help [group] for all food truck owners,” explained Todd Richwine, founder of the “Friends of Fred” food truck group.
Now, Richwine’s “Friends of Fred” group includes over 70 food trucks throughout central Indiana, connected live 24/7, like a one-stop-shop for booking your favorite food trucks for lunches and special events.
However, he hasn’t had a chance to hit the road in his own food truck yet because he’s dedicated all his days to making sure his friends stay afloat.
“I knew I was safe through this,” he said. “I have a full-time job that wasn’t affected. But these guys, I couldn’t let anything happen to them.”
And when the shutdown went into place, their usual food truck Fridays, weddings, and other events just stopped.
“Everything got canceled.. Everybody went home,” Richwine said. “So, what’s the next best thing? We followed them home.”
Now, Richwine coordinates nearly 40 neighborhood visits a day for “Friends of Fred” all over central Indiana.
“We’re as far north as Pendleton, as far south as Bargersville. Danville, Brownsburg, Plainfield, all over Indianapolis, Lawrence, Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers,” he noted.
Aside from coordinating where food trucks will go, Richwine is also the guy on location, setting up the cones 6-feet apart and helping regulate proper social distancing during the neighborhood visits so families can safely come and enjoy some great food.
On this day, they were visiting the Clark Meadows neighborhood in Whitestown with two popular food trucks including the award-winning Serendipity Mobile Catering, who offer delicious entrees like tacos, crab cake sliders, mac and cheese grilled cheese, cuban sandwiches and truffle fries.
“We had central Indiana’s Food Truck Battle last year… They won overall winner and overall signature menu,” said Richwine. “And of course everybody’s favorite sweet truck is Simply Divine… I take them about everywhere I can.
With a diverse menu of flavors like caramel pecan turtle, tiramisu and Boston cream pie, the cupcakes from Simply Divine are a huge hit with kids and adults alike.
But the reception Friends of Fred has received during neighborhood visits have been just as sweet.
“The families have been supportive… The trucks are telling me the tips have never been better,” Richwine said. “And honestly, [most of the vendors] are making more money now than they were before.”
But when you ask Richwine what his favorite thing is about being able to do this for his friends in the food truck business, his heart just spills over.
“It’d be probably the thanks that they give us,” he said. “I receive e-mails daily that I’ve saved their business… so that’s why I do it.”
Four Things You Need to Know About Friends of Fred:
- Todd Richwine got his start in the food truck business as the owner of Far-Out Fred’s food truck. But over the years his network of friends in the industry grew until he ultimately came up with the idea of his “Friends of Fred” group. “We started an online help [group] for all food truck owners in central Indiana and it’s actually grown into what we are today,” he said. Now, they have a network of over 70 central Indiana independent food truck owners.
- When the pandemic shut down restaurants and social events, that also took a toll on the food truck industry since weddings, corporate events, company lunches, Food Truck Fridays and other events were shut down as well. Now, Friends of Fred’s network of food trucks are coming right to Hoosier’s neighborhoods.
- Richwine considers “Friends of Fred” to be a one-stop shop for finding and booking your favorite local food trucks. He works directly with local homeowners associations to coordinate the neighborhood visits.
- With nearly 40 neighborhood food truck visits a day, it’s hard to keep up with. Fortunately, they share several of the food truck events on the “Friends of Fred” Facebook page. Customers can order ahead and set up a pick-up time, or just show up, place their order and pay remotely by phone, so it’s contact-free.