It seems like only yesterday that Perth had just a handful of food trucks. Suddenly, everywhere you turned there were dedicated events full of them. Now the frenzy has died down, Perth has finally got its own dedicated food truck park, the Perth Mess Hall – a repurposing of the Old Swan Barracks on Francis Street.
Chef and food truck operator Todd Kempton has been working on the Perth Mess Hall concept for six months, with support from the City of Perth and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority.
“It’s something that’s been talked about and desired in the food truck industry for years,” he says. “There’s a few over east. Melbourne has them, Sydney has them, Brisbane has some big ones. We’ve finally managed to find the space for it.”
The 1000-person venue has room for eight food trucks at any one time, with 60 trucks currently on the roster. A licensed bar has been installed inside the hall, which can also be used for concerts, fashion shows, mini-festivals and other events.
“We’re decking it out with festival-style outdoor furniture. It’s fun and relaxed,” says Kempton. “The same idea extends to the outside. It’s a car park during the day and evolves into a food truck park at night.”
While there are still plenty of food trucks to satisfy Perth’s appetite for mobile eateries, Kempton notes that the number of new trucks has peaked.
“We’re seeing a lot of trucks that came in over the last year up for sale,” he says. “Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon, but it’s not that easy to do. It’s hard work and the margins are really tight.”
The hall’s licensed bar sells wine by the glass, spirits, and beer from breweries including Matso’s and Gage Roads.
“With alcohol sales comes that little bit more money so we can have a larger offering and do some interesting things,” says Kempton. “We’re keeping the selection light, simple and fast. Just fun and friendly.”
The Perth Mess Hall launches on Friday May 10. It will initially be open from Friday to Sunday, with a view to opening on other nights once the warm weather returns.
Perth Mess Hall
8 Francis Street, Perth