The food truck trend is over, everybody, because here comes the first-ever mobile restaurant inside a trolley car. Former farmer’s market stand Tips Tri-Tips has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the Tri-Tips Trolley, a 30-foot-long trolley that will soon become a completely mobile food truck. (While construction is underway, the trolley is currently open and parked outside a coffee shop in downtown Sonoma, California, serving its familiar half-pound tri-tip sandwiches and grilled corn.)
Co-owners Andrew and Susie Pryfogle tell ISSF that to local trolley brokers’ knowledge, it’s the first trolley-food-truck hybrid in California, and despite the spacious interior, guests will not be able to eat inside: “This will be a traditional food truck in the sense that people won’t be able to eat on board, but it is being outfitted right now with an awesome kitchen,” Susie Pryfogle says. The Tri-Tips Trolley is seeking $20,000 to help with build-out.
The monthly Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta returns to Lykes Gaslight Square in downtown Tampa today.
Eight trucks will be serving from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., including newcomer Curbing Your Appetite, which specializes in blackened, wild Alaskan salmon served on a bed of fresh organic greens, as well as other seafood specialties.
Returning trucks include The Cheesesteak Truck, Cajun In a Truck, The Killer Samich Truck, Gone Bananas, I Wanna Wok, Michelle Faedo’s On The Go and Holy Hog Barbecue.
Also premiering at the fiesta this month is the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally Mobile DJ Truck, a “rockin’ music machine” that provides tunes on the go.
Lykes Gaslight Square is located on Franklin Street between Madison Street and Kennedy Boulevard.
SISU is taking advantage of their parking lot and facility and putting together a food truck park–The Uptown Truck Stop– that will operate on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays:
Wed, Thurs, Fri: Lunch 11-2pm
Thurs Fri: Happy Hour/Dinner 4-8pm
Saturday: Lunch 12-3
Sunday: Party by the pool 2-5pm
SISU already has the bar in place and the perfect parking lot for food trucks and outdoor and patio seating. Like the Truck Yard on lower Greenville, you’ll be able to get your food from the trucks and drinks from SISU.
The food truck lineup will rotate, and will feature at least three at a time.
Since the city ordinances still prohit food trucks to park in public places, The Uptown Truck Stop is a great marriage of available private space for food truck availability. Grand opening is March 19.
By Jon Fortenbury, Schools.com
There’s a reason ABC News called food trucks the “hottest new business venture.”
According to IBISWorld, a leader of business intelligence and industry research, the street vendor industry, which includes food trucks, has reached a revenue of one billion dollars, with approximately 30,810 businesses and 35,502 employees. It took the food industry by storm, with hundreds of new food trucks opening each year. But before you race to join the food truck industry, there are some things you should consider.
Is the food truck industry for you?
To determine if you should go into the food truck industry, consider these three facts:
1. A lot of food trucks go out of business: Though it’s tough to put an exact number on it, one estimate in a Huffington Post article showed that of the 100 food trucks that opened in 2012 in Los Angeles, 35 of them have closed. And though perhaps California doesn’t represent the situation everywhere, no one doubts that the situation is similar elsewhere. Can you deal with that risk?
2. Food trucks thrive in big cities: As IBISWorld pointed out in its research, the food truck industry is “located in areas which have a large population” and is “more concentrated in the most populated cities, and particularly, in the central parts of these metropolitan areas.” According to Zagat, the American cities with the “hottest food-truck scenes” are: New York City; Chicago; Miami; Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles; Cleveland; Boston; Houston and Washington, D.C. If necessary, would you be willing to live in a large city where food trucks thrive?
3. Food trucks are still businesses: With its flexible location and hours, it may be tempting to lose sight of the fact that food trucks, in many ways, still run like any other business. Have you earned a bachelor’s degree in business or studied independently on how to build a successful business? Since opening a food truck is entrepreneurial, a business-related degree may not be required, but anyone starting a business may benefit from it.
If you can accept the risk, you’re open to the possibility of relocating if necessary, and you prepare yourself for the business side of food trucks, then you may be ready to enter the food truck industry.
How to break into the field
You can’t just buy a vehicle and call it a food truck. There are more hoops than that to jump through. According to Mobile Cuisine magazine, there are several steps to undergo as you’re breaking into the food truck field, including:
• Decide on a menu, which requires demographic research and perfecting recipes
• Choose a location, which requires finding legal spots to park and areas that are popular
• Decide if you’re going to rent a food truck ($2,000-$10,000 a month, according to the article), buy a used food truck ($10,000-$75,000), buy a new food truck ($75,000-$125,000) or buy a custom food truck ($125,000-$300,000)
And then, according to the article, there are legal considerations, such as finding a legal spot to park the truck when you’re not using it, taxes, permits, licenses, insurance and more. A business degree or a knowledge of how businesses run could be beneficial when tackling all of these factors. Some culinary degree programs also offer instruction on running a food business.
The future of food trucks
No one can be certain, but there seems to be a general consensus on the food truck industry’s future. According to an Emergent Research report published by financial company Intuit, food trucks are expected to generate between 3 and 4 percent of the total restaurant revenue (about $2.7 billion) by 2017, which is a fourfold increase from 2012. Over time, according to the report, food trucks will expand to smaller cities and suburban areas, gaining share in catering and special events, such as weddings.
The food truck industry has a bright future. Deciding to be a part of it takes a lot of work. You’ll need money up front, a passion for and knowledge of food, some degree of business acumen, a desirable menu and location and a good understanding of the law. Only you can make that call.
Jon Fortenbury is an Austin-based freelance writer who specializes in higher education. He’s been published all over the place, ranging from the Huffington Post to USA Today College, and is a featured contributor to Schools.com. Follow him on Twitter. This article was originally published on Schools.com.
Denton food truck owners will soon have a more central spot to set up shop in town.
A local business owner has bought and is setting up an unofficial “food truck park” along Austin Street where truck owners can rent out spots and sell their offerings to the public.
John Williams, owner of the Oak Street Draft House and East-Side Social Club, hopes to break ground and have the lot ready for use this month.
Several of Denton’s regular trucks already pull up along the area at night to sell to East-Side SC customers and have contacted Williams about a spot in the new park during lunch or dinner hours as well.
“Kind of create that scene, create that culture, let people gather up, and they can just order food from all sorts of trucks,” said Cuong Mai, owner of the Pickled Carrot Vietnamese food truck.
Williams said currently the City of Denton has not set up rules to establish a full-time food truck park where trucks can remain, so his will operate in an unofficial capacity and trucks will have to leave and clean up at night.
Truck owners said the city is still working out a lot of the details about how food trucks can and can’t operate in town; the industry just really started up in Denton in 2012.
“It’s new,” said Gabriel Kirkpatrick, owner of the Lean Machine. “So anything that’s new you’re always going to have some hurdles and things in place just because you’re figuring out, ‘how do we make this work within the business community.”
However the industry is undoubtedly making a mark already in the community. On any given day you’ll find them parked throughout town selling unique foods from gourmet waffles to new takes on low-calorie dishes.
Owners said the park will be a nice chance to finally work together more on their efforts and make themselves more visible in the community.
“Right now we do a lot of bars that don’t serve food and that type of thing, so for families to come and sit at a table at a park I think that’s really going to be great,” said Rachel Black, owner of the Waffle Wagon.
“Help give the trucks a little bit more of a static area where our consumers can know where we are,” said Kirkpatrick.
Right now the only large gatherings of the trucks in town are at festivals, nightly at bars like East-Side SC, and Wednesdays at the Downtown A-Train station where several set-up for lunch. Other than that most have a strong social media presence to help get word out about their set-up locations and unique menus.
Williams hopes the park will help continue the popularity of the industry in town and help it live up to its full potential.
First, Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Ben Rutter got served by Watson, the IBM supercomputer. Now, Watson is serving up dishes from a food truck as part of a new partnership with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, NPR reports.
The supercomputer made its debut as a chef at a Las Vegas tech conference last week, and so far has produced gourmet, fusion fare like a Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche, an Austrian chocolate burrito, and a pork belly moussaka.
Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, the supercomputer comes up with creative meals based on a series of algorithms, according to the company’s website:
“The system begins by capturing and analyzing tens of thousands of existing recipes to understand ingredient pairings and dish composition, and which it rearranges and redesigns into new recipes. It then cross references these with data on the flavor compounds found in ingredients, and the psychology of people’s likes and dislikes…to model how the human palate might respond to different combinations of flavors.”
IBM hopes Watson will become a lucrative revenue stream, TIME recently reported, after the company’s sales fell for seven straight quarters and its stock price dropped — arguably due to changes within the technology industry and the larger shift from PCs and printers toward software and services. “Cloud computing” is now a formidable competitor, and IBM executives have “projected” that Watson, which operates in the cloud, will generate $1 billion in revenue by 2018, the Wall Street Journal reports.
However, three years after its Jeopardy! debut, the supercomputer has only produced $100 million, according to the newspaper. So at the beginning of 2014, “IBM announced that it will invest more than $1 billion into the Watson Group, including $100 million for venture investments to support start-ups and businesses that are building a new class of applications powered by Watson,” TIME reported.
The food truck will be at SXSW, the music and tech festival in Austin, Texas, from March 7 to 11.
They’re famous for their spicy chicken, and now for their spicy name.
Port San Antonio, an industrial complex and aerospace facility in San Antonio, Tex., has banned a Korean food truck because of its name: Cockasian.
The owner of the food truck conceded the name was a bit racy but that they shouldn’t be banned from the site, which serves 12,000 employees at the former Kelly Air Force Base.
“I am surprised. I thought it would get a little bit of cajoling, but nothing like this,” Cockasian food truck owner Candie Yoder told MyFoxAntonio.
According to reports, the problem arose when someone at Port San Antonio Googled the name of the truck to look at the menu. Needless to say, the menu isn’t the first thing to come up. This is.
Paco Fellici, a spokesman for the facility said: “We thought the name could be offensive to others.”
Yoder insisted the name isn’t meant to be a racial or sexual slur, saying that the idea for the truck is simply that Korean food is Asian and one name for a male chicken is cock.
Yoder said that they’re planning on moving the food truck to another spot in the city, adding that the controversy has only helped business and highlight her hot fried chicken.
“My Korean is based more on what they would get served in Korea, so it’s spicy!”
Now that Seattle’s rains are solidly socking us in for the next five months (sorry newbies), it’s a good time to think of the glorious August, September and maybe even October ahead. Summer good times on the Hill this year will mean a double helping of a new event that successfully debuted alongside Cal Anderson last year and helped show that — at least for now — 11th Ave makes for a not-so-bad Capitol HIll festival street.
Organizers have announced that The Seattle Street Food Festival will return for a second year on Capitol Hill as the event expands to two days and adds what should be a fun new component to add the August celebration of mobile food — and, now, shopping.
“Our aim last year was to test the concept and thankfully, it was a huge success,” event producer Ryan Reiter tells CHS. “Now as we move two days, it should cut down on the congestion and offer a healthier food festival experience.”
The 2013 debut of the event on 11th Ave was a bit of a victim of its own success. Hugely crowded, 11th Ave was choked with patrons and long lines as the event was squeezed into a few hours on a single day. 2014 should be a different story with the festival spreading across two days on Friday, August 8th and Saturday, August 9th. Friday’s hours will offer a nighttime experience with the festival running from 5 to 11 PM. Saturday will get going at 11 AM and run until 11 PM, according to organizers. Reiter said while the festival will again be free to enter, you’ll again be able to purchase “VIP” badges that will allow you to skip the lines
There will also be more to do this year. Reiter is partnering with Kristen Rask and Lindsey Ross to create an Urban Craft Uprising Village during the two-day festival. Reiter calls the shopping village to be sited on the Bobby Morris playfield “a great new opportunity for local small businesses to be highlighted at our food festival.” Rask and Ross are looking for around 100 vendors to participate. You can let them know you’re interested by signing up here.
Reiter says organizers are also looking for neighborhood talent to provide entertainment.
“We will also be looking at highlighting local community groups for programs for kid’s arts and crafts to happen hours and acoustic musical performances inside the market area,” Reiter said.
Despite the challenges encountered in making 2013 work, the first street food fest opened eyes of organizers seeking to create similar events on the Hill. Seattle Pride will warm 11th Ave up with a street festival of its own alongside Cal Anderson in June.
For more information, visit seattlestfoodfest.com.
The best food news in the past several years, for me anyway, has been the arrival of specialty food trucks on the Jersey culinary landscape.
I don’t mean the “grease trucks” of Rutgers fame, or the “roach coaches” of days past, but trucks serving high-quality food — sandwiches, seafood, pizza, salads, soups, ice cream, cupcakes and more.
Order a burger at a university-based food truck, then order one at a specialty food truck like the Outslider, and tell me you don’t taste a difference.
The Jersey Shore Food Truck Wars, held in 2012 and 2013 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, have become immensely popular events, spurring similar food truck events across the state. There was even a food truck gathering in Secaucus during Super Bowl week earlier this year.
So, it made sense to conduct our own Jersey Food Truck Showdown. It’s the first time anyone has attempted this, but who does food showdowns better than Inside Jersey? I visited 40 food trucks across the Garden State during my tour and sampled food from more than 20 others at the Monmouth Park events.
The road trip was tougher than it sounds. Specialty food trucks are scattered, with ever-changing hours of operation. Many do not have websites. Twitter is the food truck communication platform. It’s where you go to find the location of a food truck on any particular day.
There are about 70 specialty food trucks in New Jersey, and the number is destined to increase as towns start to relax regulations. The best food-truck scenes, as of this writing, are in Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark and Montclair. But the trucks are slowly making inroads in other towns.
Three food truck owners — Jason Cervone, of the French Quarter truck; Jon Hepner, of the Thai Elephant truck; and Carlos Serrano, the Empanada Guy — formed the New Jersey Food Truck Association late last year. The organization wants to be the communication and lobbying force for food truck owners, and it has enlisted the services of the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice.
Which means food trucks are here to stay, and I’m here to report that I not only survived, but thrived on my road trip. In fact, the food overall was superior to what I encountered during my search for Jersey’s best diners, chronicled in Inside Jersey’s August 2013 issue.
Here are the results of the Ultimate Jersey Diner Showdown.
Unlike the diner showdown, for which there was one grand prize winner and winners in various categories, I picked seven food truck winners. Their food was all over the map, er, menu. How do you compare ice cream to soul food to Asian food to salads to cupcakes? Thus, seven winners, not just one.
Hope you enjoy their stories and, when you go on a road trip of your own, their food.
Don’t forget to enter our Jersey Food Truck Warrior Challenge. The first 10 people to visit 10 different trucks win an Inside Jersey backpack and accessories.
And the first five people to hit 10 different trucks win a ride on the Munchmobile this summer!
Map note: Locations are approximate. Food trucks move. Click on a pin and contact the truck to see exactly where it is now.
View New Jersey Food Truck Directory in a larger map
COMING TUESDAY, MARCH 4: Read about the first three of our outstanding food trucks.
Jacksonville City Council President Bill Gulliford said he sees no reason to slap new rules on local food trucks.
Responding to a draft bill by Councilman Reggie Brown that would place local regulations on the food truck industry, Gulliford said the new rules are unnecessary.
“I haven’t gotten any indication that there is some significant problem that needs fixing, but I have gotten an indication that an awful lot of people that like food trucks,” he said.
“I have been overwhelmed with emails more so than many other issues that you would think would be more significant but the response has been pretty strong.”
Gulliford said there are more important issues for council to be considering, like pension reform, and it would be a waste of time to focus on legislation that is only stirring people up.
Councilman Brown said he doesn’t want to shut down the food trucks, he only believes there should be local regulations. He is in the process of forming committee of local stakeholders to work out the legislation.
You can follow Kevin Meerschaert on Twitter @KMeerschaertJax.
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