By Lila Asnani, Foodable Contributor
First Friday is a street festival that occurs monthly in Las Vegas. It started in Oct of 2002 as an arts festival which was aimed at revitalizing the Downtown Arts District. First Friday Las Vegas has since expanded over the years to include different forms of visual and performing arts, live music and food.
Today, First Friday extends over 20 blocks and this free event attracts an average of 30,000 people. The main Art Walk event is centered in the 18b Arts District which has galleries and art showings. The event has also expanded to include Freemont Street, the downtown cluster of casinos, which offers free musical acts for attendees 21 years and over.
One of the main draws for First Friday is most definitely the food, particularly the 70 some food trucks that gather monthly for this event. Omings Kitchen is one such food truck that got its start at First Friday in May 2014.
Omings is co-owned by Salome Pilas and Nas who are both from the Philippines. Business partners of more than 20 years, Salome and Nas are an efficient team with Salome, or Oming, serving as Chef and Nas working front of the house or truck.
Salome is originally from Dumaguete, Philippines which is famous for grilled food or Sinugba. Pork is popular in Dumaguete so pork belly was a natural choice for the menu. Omings Kitchen has a simple three item menu: grilled pork belly, grilled chicken and lumpia all served over jasmine rice.
“People come to Omings for something simple and unique,” explains Salome. It must be a winning formula because 90% of her clientele are repeat customers who call Salome monthly to make sure that she will be at her usual spot at First Friday.
Omings Kitchen also does catering for private parties and events like the EDC and Nascar here in Vegas but First Friday will always be special to Salome. The food truck got its start at First Friday and Salome counts Las Vegas locals as her biggest supporters. “It is a friendly crowd and has the feeling of a neighborhood market where the locals party,” adds Salome.
Fostering Customer Engagement Through Social Media
There is a strong following for the food trucks at First Friday and the advent of social media means a more educated and selective audience whose patronage ultimately determines the success or failure of certain food trucks.
“It’s not about the money. You have to have passion, or amor, for your food and when the people see and taste that you’ve put love in your food and that you love what you do, the money will come,” says Salome.
Social media has also allowed Omings Kitchen to get to know their customers a little more intimately. People can post questions on the Omings Facebook page and get answers and the positive feedback has inspired Salome to do better and bigger things.
Salome has also worked outside the food industry and explains “I always told myself that someday I was going to have my own business. I just didn’t know that it was going to be a food truck but it happened. Dreams do come true and you just have to go after your goals.”