Food Truck Flix

Fridays and Saturdays, 7:00 p.m., $25 per car 

Focus Church and Frontier RTP, Raleigh

It’s a little after 5:00 p.m. on a hot day in late June. Gus Megaloudis, the owner of Gussy’s Greek Street Food Truck, is sweating but serene. He’s gazing over a small, dedicated troop of food truck owners and friends who are scattering hundreds of orange traffic cones through a parking lot at the Frontier complex in Research Triangle Park. As they turn acres of broiling asphalt into a checkerboard of parking spaces, technicians unroll and slowly inflate what at first looks like a giant goth bounce house but turns out to be a four-story screen. 

After hours of work, the result is Food Truck Flix. The new outdoor film series and food truck rodeo series is ongoing through August, every Friday and Saturday night at 7:00 p.m., at either Frontier or Raleigh’s Focus Church. The cost is $25 per car, with those profits going to social justice causes.   

“I figured I couldn’t do it by myself,” Megaloudis says of the plan, which he came up with to help shore up the region’s food truck community during its most challenging year, benefit worthy nonprofits like Emancipate NC, and give locals a rare commodity—a fun, fairly safe night out. 

But in this intriguing variation on the venerable institution of the drive-in, patrons get their munchies and drinks from local food trucks instead of a generic concession stand. They maintain social distance by ordering from the Street Food Finder mobile app while staying in (or sometimes, on) vehicles separated by empty spaces. Masked carhops deliver their orders. 

Drive-in theaters have been driven almost to extinction, but they’ve made an improbable comeback in North Carolina during the summer of COVID-19. Long-established venues like Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre in Henderson are now running seven days a week, and new pop-up sites have opened over the last month in Charlotte, Fayetteville, and Wilmington, along with two in Winston-Salem. 

Megaloudis drew in the owners of Chick-N-Que, Chirba Chirba, Bulkogi, and Pie Pushers, and together, they’ve sold out every screening since they began in late June. Following the likes of Independence Day and Coco, this weekend brings Hidden Figures on Friday and The Sandlot on Saturday, both at Focus Church.  

At a screening of Grease Friday night, Ashley Serrone and her friends presided over an array of posh pillows, chairs, and coolers in the bed of the pickup truck they rented to tailgate the event in style. 

“It’s a good throwback,” she says. 

In other cars, Tracey Price misses the clip-on squawk boxes from the old days, while Kim Manturuk pines for the dancing snacks once featured in cheesy pre-show ads. Still, a buzz of anticipation fills the lot as the sun goes down and a cultural relic from the 1950s brings people together again in a time when that’s hard to do. 

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