But regulations and a lackluster market could make it difficult for the trend to catch on in counties as small as Gaston.
“It’s a hard business,” said Mark Hoffman, one of the owners of R.O.’s Barbecue. “It would be very difficult to get (a food truck) started now.”
R.O.’s first mobile food unit appeared 10 years ago, far ahead of the curve. It was intended to promote the slaw the company sold in grocery stores.
“Then we started working events,” Hoffman said. “And now we keep them on the road six days a week.”
Hoffman acknowledges that R.O.’s mobile food units have been a profitable venture. But even with an established customer base, he said, it can be a difficult and fickle business.
“It’s about 500 to 600 dollars a day to run (each truck),” Hoffman said. “So it can be hard to make a big profit. We’re only just now getting them paid for.”
Hoffman says it’s even more difficult for independent trucks that aren’t attached to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Aside from the high cost of entry into the market, health department regulations force trucks to seek out partnerships with existing restaurants.
“To have a mobile food unit running all the time, not just at special events, you have to return to a physical restaurant to clean up and park every night,” he said. “Some restaurant has to take you under their wing.”
But even though the regulations can make it difficult on industry newcomers, Hoffman says the rules are a necessary precaution.
“If you don’t have a place to return to and clean up,” he said, “you could have some serious health issues.”
The Gaston County Health Department has 13 mobile food units registered for this year, a number that briefly jumped in ’09 and ’10 but has remained stable for the last few years even as the food truck trend has swept the nation.
Hoffman isn’t sweating the extra competition.
“It seems like the more competition we have, the better we do,” he said.
One of the big factors in R.O.’s success, he says, is simply that the product is different.
“We have a unique product. We do it differently than everybody else.”
Uniqueness and an established partnership with a brick-and-mortar restaurant are the keys to success in the industry, he said. But most food trucks don’t have those.
“Most people who get into the food truck business go under. I think we’re going to see a lot of trucks come and go in Gaston in the next few years.”
Thousands of people are expected to flock here next month for the second annual Union Centre Food Truck Rally.
Scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 8, the event will bring more than 15 food trucks to the Square @ Union Centre, 9285 Centre Pointe Drive, and will feature live music throughout the day, including headliners DV8, a rock, dance and party band.
Alcoholic beverage sales from the event, which is organized by the Union Centre Boulevard Merchants Association, will benefit the recently launched Boys Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty. Last year’s event drew approximately 5,000 diners, according to the association.
Emily Gilmartin, vice president for the UCBMA, said the event was moved to early August to draw more people, extended to 11 p.m. to accommodate more revelers and expanded to include wine in addition to draft beer.
“It’s extremely popular,” Gilmartin said. “The township came back to us and said they wanted it be an annual event. We had vendors approaching us to be a part of this early on this year and people who attended last year’s event have been calling us to make sure they didn’t miss it this year.”
Gilmartin said a selection of vendors also signed up to participate on After Hours on the Square on the day before the food truck rally.
B.J. Kim, owner of Red Sesame Korean BBQ, said he is one of those businesses and is looking forward to serving customers on both days.
“Last year we did really, really well,” he said. “We were really busy.”
Pat Fettig of Mason operates food truck Empanadas Aqui, a food truck that serves Venezuelan street food to hungry customers outside Hamilton and Warren counties businesses and festivals, including Bunbury Music Festival and Taste of OTR.
The Union Centre Food Truck Rally will mark the eatery’s Butler County debut, serving empandas, a South American turnover stuffed with anything from ground beef or shredded beef to chicken or spinach.
Fettig, who operates the business with nephew Brett Johnson and his Venezuelan wife Dabni, said the food truck business is no flash in the pan.
“Festivals are building themselves around the food truck business,” Fettig said. “I think Cincinnati is becoming up there with some of the other areas that have been running trucks for years.”
Companies and office buildings are also reaching out to get food trucks to park in their lots, offering anything from grilled cheese, Korean barbecue or fresh baked cupcakes to chili, pizza, burgers or shaved ice.
Dave Borcherding of West Chester Twp., who typically dines on Empanadas Aqui outside of work in Mason, said he “definitely” plans to devour the culinary offerings of that truck and others.
“My wife hasn’t had a chance to sample their empanadas, but she’s heard me rave about them,” Borcherding said. “I think it’ll be fun. We’ve done other food truck events before … and it’s kind of a fun thing. I’m looking forward to it.”
WELCOME BACK. I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS SUCH THING AS A FOOD TRUCK SUNDAY HERE AT LOCAL 10. APPARENTLY THERE IS. I’M LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE HERE AND SO IS SHELBY. SHE’S THE OWNER OF PACK PASTRIES HERE. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. YOU CAME AND WE LOVE HAVING YOU. YOU BROUGHT GOOD STUFF, TOO. I DID. I BROUGHT A COUPLE OF SIGNATURE CUPCAKES HERE. OUR DEATH BY CHOCOLATE. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY AND MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP. HEARING THOSE NAMES I THINK THERE’S NO WAY I WOULD EAT THINK THINKING — EAT THIS. WE’RE 100% ORGANIC. GLUTEN FREE AND ALER GI FRIENDLY. NO GLUTEN OR NUTS. PEOPLE THINK THE FOOD IS DELICIOUS BUT PERHAPS NOT THE HEALTHIER OPTION. WITH THE ORGANIC AND DPLIEWTEN FREE CRAZE IS THAT WHY YOU DECIDED TO SEPARATE YOURSELF IN. HIS A LOT OF FRIENDS GOING THROUGH MEDICAL ISSUES WITH GLUTEN, STUFF LIKE THAT. I DECIDED ABLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO INDULGE A LITTLE BIT AND NOT FEEL SO BAD AFTERWARDS OR LIKE THEY ARE CHEATING ON THEIR DIET. YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL COMING UP HERE THIS WEEK AS FAR AS THE PROFITS YOU ARE MAKING, WHERE THAT MONEY IS GOING. TOMORROW NIGHT WE’RE AT YOUNG CIRCUMSTANCE UNTIL HOLLYWOOD. THERE’S ABOUT — CIRCLE IN HOLLYWOOD. THERE’S 15 TRUCKS PARTICIPATING. THERE’S AN EVENT FOR COMMON THREADS. EACH TRUCK HAS ONE MENU ITEM WE’RE DONATING ALL THE PROCEEDS TO COMN THREADS. EATING WELL CAN BE EXPENSIVE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT COMMON THREADS IS AND GET THE WORD OUT? YES, IT’S ABOUT HELPING KIDS WHO ARE IN LESS FORTUNATE AREAS LEARN HOW TO COOK HEALTHIER AND AFFORDABLE AND THAT’S KIND OF LIKE WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO SHOW WITH OUR TRUCK. THAT YOU CAN EAT HEALTHY AND AFFORDABLE AND ALL THE OTHER TRUCKS AS WELL HAD DOING THEIR MENU ITEM TO BE AFFORDABLE AS WELL. WE HAVE SOMEBODY TRYING TO STEAL SOME OF YOUR GOODS. HE IS NOT ABLE TO GET AWAY WITH ALL OF IT. WHICH ONE SHOULD I TRY? PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY IS MY FAVORITE. LET’S SEE WHAT IS GOING ON AT ARTS PARK. MONDAY FROM 5:30 TO 9:30, A HEALTHY MENU. 100% OF SALES COME BACK TO COMMON THREADS. THAT IS GOOD. JULIE? I’M NOT SHARING BECAUSE I JUST LICKED THE TOP. THANK YOU. DELICIOUS. WHAT ARE THESE IN MUNCHIES?
Mt. Pleasant is almost a year into the implementation of its revised food truck ordinance and has not received any criticism regarding the changes.
“I checked with both the city manager’s office and my office, and haven’t heard any complaints,” City Clerk Jeremy Howard said.
Right now, the city has two food trucks licensed for operation.
Howard said that because Central Michigan University Research Corporation has recently kicked off “Food Truck Fridays,” an initiative aimed at drawing more attention toward food truck start-ups, the city might see an uptick in registered food trucks.
“I think that Food Truck Fridays has kind of put that into the forefront a little bit, so I think we’ll see potentially at least people talking about it,” he said.
Howard said the ordinance, passed in October 2013, went into effect November of the same year.
The ordinance was drafted with a one-year sunset provision, Howard said, so if it is not re-examined by the commission within the coming months, it will expire.
If the ordinance does end, Howard said, the city’s provision on the mobile food truck specifics will end as well.
However, the changes made to the rest of the ordinance, such as wording changes, will stay, he said.
The ordinance changes allowed food trucks to park in the downtown area and on Main Street south of High Street between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Twelve of the trucks can register per year on a first-come first-serve basis, and vendors must move if they present any sort of a threat to public safety.
Trucks cannot park within 150 feet of any open food-serving establishment.
The ordinance also increased non-compliance fines that vendors will face if they disobey the rules.
The issue began in April of last year, when the Wiener Wagon approached the city about upgrading its push cart to a motor-vehicle pulled trailer.
At that point, the city realized its existing ordinance did not have provisions for mobile food service providers.
Howard said he will reexamine the ordinance within the coming months to approach the commission about whether they want to change it at all.
“Without there being any complaints it’s going to be their decision, whether they want to address it or if they want to make changes,” he said. “Even though we haven’t heard any complaints, they may still want to make changes.”
PHILADELPHIA – A mother and teenage daughter have died of injuries they suffered in a fiery explosion inside their food truck earlier this month, authorities said Thursday.
Jaylin Steffany Landaverry Galdanez, 17, died Tuesday and Olga Galdanez, 42, died Sunday, according to the medical examiner’s office. The mother owned the truck.
Both died of burn-related injuries suffered from the July 1 explosion of the La Parrillada Chapina truck in the Feltonville neighborhood of north Philadelphia, said Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the office.
Eleven other people were injured, three critically, in the explosion, which investigators believe was caused by a propane tank leak ignited by cooking grills.
Friends of Jaylin Galdanez and classmates from Little Flower High School gathered Wednesday night for a prayer vigil at the scene.
Teacher Carol Dauerbach told the Philadelphia Daily News that the food truck “was the ticket to their future.”
“They worked hard, and they struggled, but they did it joyfully,” said Dauerbach, who said the mother often woke up at 3 a.m. to start cooking.
Her daughter often helped at the truck, leaving her with little free time. She hoped to become an obstetrician, friends told the newspaper.
Instead, the bodies will be flown to Guatemala for burial after a funeral Friday, relatives told KYW-TV.
Nearby surveillance video captured the explosion, which was followed by a huge fireball that engulfed the 25-foot truck and set a utility pole on fire.
The truck carried two 100-pound propane tanks to fuel its grills. Both tanks were full and one was in use at the time of the explosion. Investigators believe the leak occurred in the other tank, which was later found nearly 100 feet away.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Philadelphia police detectives and the city fire marshal’s office investigated. Messages left with those agencies Thursday by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
CINCINNATI – Emily Frank didn’t make lemonade when life handed her lemons back in 2011. She made grilled cheese.
More precisely, she started C’est Cheese, a grilled cheese food truck.
Frank had been living in Chicago and working as an executive in the printing industry when she got laid off.
“I had had a job since I was 15,” said Frank, a Cincinnati area native who graduated from Sycamore High School and University of Cincinnati. “It was the first time I thought, ‘What do I really want to do?’”
Frank soon realized that just because she had been good at her job, that didn’t mean she enjoyed it.
“I was your typical workaholic – a single woman who managed 85 people across six states. I lived on airplanes and in hotels,” she said. “Everybody hates their job, but I didn’t realize until I was forced out of if it that, holy crap, I did not enjoy that.”
She used her severance package to spend that summer figuring out what she wanted to do next and decided she wanted to move home to Cincinnati and start her own business.
Insiders can read more about how Frank started C’est Cheese, the local organizations that helped her and why her advisors think she’s been so successful with the business.
HIGH POINT, N.C. — The Will and Pop’s food truck visited the FOX8 studios in High Point on Friday, serving up burgers and grilled cheese.
The visit was part of “Food Truck Friday,” a FOX8 segment highlighting food trucks in the area.
Next Friday on the FOX8 4:00 News we will featuring food from the Baguettaboutit food truck.
NORTH HAVEN The Connecticut Food Truck Festival brought family and friends together to enjoy the summer weather. However, it also brought in a significant turnout that caused shocking traffic jams and long waiting lines July 19.
The festival, which was held at the town’s Fair Grounds, drew about 13,000 people, about four times as many as expected, according to Rob Craven, event coordinator for the festival.
That Saturday, the well-traveled advertisements caused severe traffic congestion on Washington Avenue and Interstate 91. It also forced a wait of about 40 minutes to enter the festival.
Police Chief Thomas McLoughlin said in a prepared statement that traffic backed up at the front entrance to the Fair Grounds (Route 5), and the Exit 12 ramp to I-91 also became affected.
“In an effort to better control the traffic and parking on Sunday, the police department assigned traffic officers early Sunday morning and throughout the day, and the neighboring streets were properly posted for ‘No Parking,’” McLoughlin said.
First Selectman Michael Freda said he received a number of phone calls and emails with complaints regarding traffic and from business owners who said parking spots were being used by festival participants.
“It was very chaotic,” Freda said.
While Craven didn’t coordinate the event with Freda’s office, he said he did contact the local fire and police departments.
Believing the event would reflect the Flea and Farmer’s Market attendance, which brings in thousands of people, Craven said the food truck festival wouldn’t have required a large public safety presence.
As the first food truck festival, Craven said there was no way to estimate how many people would come out.
However, once the problem presented itself, Freda said police and fire were dispatched to the area to monitor the traffic flow.
“Of course if we were expecting thousands of thousands of people we would have worked with the town on it,” Craven said.
Craven, a town resident, said he wanted to start the festival to help support local charities and benefit the town on a yearly basis. Exact donation numbers weren’t clear.
“I’ve heard so many people say the Fair Grounds never get used and that nothing happens in North Haven. I hoped we could give North Haven that action, my goal was to help North Haven,” Craven said.
“I never anticipated people would spread the word like they did,” Craven said.
Despite the challenges, Freda and Craven said they plan to work together to host another food truck festival that’s more manageable.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he had every best intention at heart to make it a good event,” Freda said.
Freda said he hopes to hold a smaller-scale food truck festival that will target residents.
“We’ll do an event on a smaller scale so the parking the Fair Grounds has to offer is efficient and can absorb that many people,” Freda said.
Call Ebony Walmsley at 203-789-5734. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.
When asked why the snowball is so revered in south Louisiana, the “Cajun Sisters” from the newest food truck on the north shore, Kona Ice, acted as if they had been asked why the sky is blue.
“Everybody’s grown up with the snowball. You have to have a snowball every summer,” Daphne Overton said.
“Cause it’s hot … that why!” said her sister, Bethany Robichaux, of the portable treatmobile dispensing good cheer and cool relief.
The exuberant Overton and Robichaux call themselves the “Cajun Sisters,” saying they both moved “from the bayou” to Slidell, but originally hail from Galliano, in Lafourche Parish. Today, they co-own what they believe to be the only food truck headquartered in St. Tammany Parish. Although there are stands all around — and many people sell snowballs at events throughout the parish — they say none have a souped-up, festive, fully-mobile snowball operation a bit reminiscent of the ice cream trucks of old.
But it’s not an ice cream truck, they warn. The sisters say their mobile operation is more in the food truck tradition — and is licensed as such — and that they park it for corporate functions, charitable causes, festivals, and other events held in Slidell, Mandeville, Covington, Lacombe, Madisonville, and other parts of the parish.
The sisters say establishing the first legal food truck in St. Tammany was a difficult process, and still is; they are often restricted to doing private and corporate functions, as simply “parking” is — at least for now — often not welcome.
“I am looking forward to the day that the north shore embraces it, the day the St. Tammany government embraces it like New Orleans has embraced it,” Overton said. “It’s still a challenge.”
Overton and Robichaux said they were initially told by Parish officials that their truck would be a no-go; but they persisted, and secured necessary permits.
“As popular as it’s (food trucks) becoming in New Orleans, it hasn’t been embraced by St. Tammany … it’s the government, not the people,” Overton explained. “The people are very, very supportive.”
“We were looking for something fun to do, something that we could do together,” Overton said. They chose to partner with Kona Ice — which is actually a Kentucky-based franchise — but promises the product is all New Orleans. It’s a snowball like you’d get on any local street corner on a summer day. They say it’s nothing like the clumpy “thing” that the rest of the world — meaning the world beyond south Louisiana — calls the “sno-cone.”
“Sno-cones are going to have a chunkier ice, and that is not what we are,” said Overton, of their icy treats made from crushed cubes, instead of from block ice, a traditional method of choice at many local snowball stands. But Overton said locals won’t see any discernible difference in terms of taste and consistency, despite a discrepancy in how the product is marketed. “Because the franchise originated in Kentucky, they call it shaved ice versus snowball … but WE call it a snowball.”
Cuisine: A full range of standard snowballs.
On the menu: Three sizes of snowballs with 30 standard Kona Ice flavors, plus local favorites including Nectar. Of course, there’s also condensed milk.
Top seller: The sisters are surprised at the popularity of the “Wedding Cake” flavored snowball. The top 10 flavors are made available at child-level spigots on the truck, so children — and adults — can enjoy making their own snowballs if they prefer the fun of snowball DIY.
I said: “You can’t find the unique, exotic local flavors you’d find at, for instance, Plum St. Snowballs or Hansen’s. But a standard snowball is delivered from a fun and festive truck by employees with oodles of personality.”
Price: Standard snowball pricing, a few bucks.
Regular stops: Because it’s new, the truck primarily appears now at private functions. They have also appeared at functions at Pelican Park and at various charity events.
Additional note: There are several other Kona Ice trucks operating as independent franchises in other parts of south Louisiana.
Acadiana Grilled Cheese Co. owner Dustin Aguillard is ready to park his food truck and move his business indoors for a full-service restaurant.
Aguillard said he’s put a for-sale sign on the truck and is leaving the mobile food-service business behind. He’ll open his own brick-and-mortar restaurant at 519 S. Pierce St.
The restaurant will be located in Uptown Lofts, and include an expanded menu and a full bar of locally crafted beer.
MORE: Fire in his belly
The wheels started moving last year, Aguillard said, to transition his boudin “wrangler” and brisket with bacon sandwiches from food truck fare to stay-awhile cuisine.
“I had mentioned that I wanted to go brick-and-mortar because I believe the concept is strong enough, and that’s how it happened,” he said. “I developed a proposal over about three months and we signed a deal in October for an investor to fund this restaurant.”
About a dozen food trucks operate in the Lafayette area. Some come, some go. Hibachi Hero, for example, closed earlier this year. But others like three-year-old Viva La Waffle plan to stick with the food-on-wheels business.
Running a food truck has been challenging, but it has also been a good way to test his product, Aguillard said.
“The food truck trend is still hot. We get calls every day for catering events, weddings, the zoo, block parties,” he said.
But the grind of cleaning, prepping and finding locations that are easily accessible to costumers became difficult. Aguillard said he also wanted to expand the Acadiana Grilled Cheese Co.’s menu.
“This allowed us to do the full concept that we could never execute with the food truck and then expand at the same time,” Aguillard said. “Our grilled cheese menu is going to be enhanced, because we’ll have better ingredients and in-house bread, No.1.”
Other items will include “peaux dogs” which is a “po-boy/gourmet hot dog hybrid” and salads, Aguillard said.
“Now we finally get to do that. We wanted to, but we were so stifled with the truck size,” he said. “We were just restricted in so many ways.”
Karen Dean, a long-time veteran of the Lafayette food service industry, will be the restaurant’s general manager.
She said opening the business just made sense for her.
“I’ve waited tables, bar-tended, been in management. So, why not open a restaurant?” she said.
The building space was empty when Aguillard and Dean’s team started to convert it to a restaurant.
The bar was crafted from pecan wood recovered from his father’s property, he said.
“This is what you would call a ‘white box.’ There was nothing in here,” Aguillard said. “No plumbing, no AC or electrical, and it’s going to take us about $180,000 total to get rolling. If you already have a building already equipped, obviously it’s a lot less.”
The restaurant has joined the newly created Downtown Lafayette Restaurant and Bar Association and plans to open in a few weeks.
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