Browsing articles tagged with " food carts"
Sep 25, 2014
Kim Rivers

Fridge Magnet: The food truck scene

This Friday, four city blocks in tiny Christiansburg are expected to be teeming with thousands of people weighing dozens of choices. Hand-tossed pizza or wood-smoked barbecue? Key West fish tacos? Ice cream, doughnuts or both?

They’ll be jamming to music, tossing back local brews and eating — oh my, will they be eating.

But just by showing up at the largest gathering of mobile food vendors west of Richmond and south of D.C., they will be feeding a long-hoped-for, homegrown version of the national phenomenon that is the food truck scene.

It’s a scene that last March brought together a mind-blowing 121 food trucks in Tampa, Florida; a scene that includes two food truck reality shows on two different television stations.

People love the quirky, spontaneous, gourmet vibe that today’s food truck evokes.

“Across the country, there’s been a huge spike in interest in this form of eating,” said David Verde, special event coordinator for Christiansburg.

But before Downtown Christiansburg, Inc. staged the area’s first-ever food truck rodeo last fall, Southwest Virginia had felt a little uninvited to the party.

Friday’s rodeo will be the third such event in Christiansburg (city leaders held one last spring, as well). Planners are expecting more than 3,000 people to attend. Roanoke’s Grandin Village has hosted two more modest truck festivals this summer and last fall.

“Something that’s happening all across the country is now coming to smaller cities like Roanoke and Christiansburg,” Verde said.

All the ingredients

No, Southwest Virginia is not Florida, where mega-truck events run weekly. Or even the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina, where several times a year, 50-60 trucks from across the region motor into town and set up shop.

But consider this: In early 2012, Southwest Virginia had just a handful of food trucks. Bruno’s GastroTruck was based out of Moneta and the ‘Noke Truck parked in Roanoke. Wirtz’s Homestead Creamery had an ice cream truck that could be booked for special events, and a few more taqueria-type trucks could be found sprinkled here and there.

Two-and-a-half years later, that list is nearly five times as large, topping out at almost two dozen. There are barbecue trucks and hot dog trucks, while both of Roanoke’s cupcake shops (Viva La Cupcake and Bubblecake) have mobile units of some kind. Appalachian Frucking Delicious, based on a “farm-to-food truck” model, is a Floyd-based business that had its debut in August.

There are trucks specializing in grilled cheese (Toasted by Casey), grilled chicken cooked in a repurposed school bus (The Chicken Bus), Italian food (the Cellar) and Thai food (Thai This).

“Roanoke is just now sort of turning on to food trucks,” said Steve Baum of Baums BBQ, who began smoking and selling pulled pork and chicken on wheels in March. “We’re a little behind but we’re starting to get there.”

All the ingredients that have fed this trend nationally are present in the Roanoke area. We’ve got customers excited for modern food trucks, while social media allows followers to track the whereabouts and menus of their favorite trucks. Now there are events that create buzz and opportunity for the trucks.

Local truck owners say there’s one other key to their recent growth: the surge of Southwest Virginia’s breweries. As many as 10 area breweries regularly call on their roster of trucks, hoping one might park outside the tasting room and provide apps, snacks and dinner to drinking customers.

“They’re all using food trucks,” said Charlie Hamill, a graduate of the Culinary Institute at Virginia Western and the owner of the mobile Rock Roll Diner, which specializes in burgers, sandwiches and southwest cuisine. “There’s almost not enough food trucks for the amount of breweries that need a food truck three nights a week.”

For the love of food

Even with an expanding food truck scene in Southwest Virginia, owners say the job is not as glamorous as it looks on TV. The days are long and the profit margin is slim.

Baum was an air traffic controller who catered barbecue as a hobby. Then a year ago, he said, “I just decided to go ahead and retire and take it easy — and work three times as hard as I was before!”

The owners I interviewed are all hoping to expand their business and one day open a stand-alone restaurant.

“I would love to eventually get a small brick-and-mortar storefront,” Baum said. “But I’m taking it slow. I’ve got to make the money first.”

All say they are still discovering the ins and outs of how to be successful with this relatively new business model. Danielle and James Drake are the owners of Hot Stones Pizza, a Wirtz-based food truck that pulls its own wood-burning pizza oven behind it. Danielle said figuring out which events will turn the biggest profit has been hard, but the most pressing lesson she’s learned? “How to be faster, that’s for sure!”

So why stay in the food truck biz? These owners all agreed that they do it because they love food and they love serving good food to their customers.

“People talk about this food truck craze and the popularity and everything,” said Rock Roll Diner’s Hamill. “I’m in it because this is what I want to do and no matter whether it stays trendy or completely goes out of fashion, I’m going to keep doing it.”

With that attitude behind the wheel, Southwest Virginia’s food truck scene is sure to keep on growing bigger and better.

Heard of any food trucks

we missed? Hoping for a certain type of food truck to drive into our market? Join the discussion on the Fridge Magnet blog at

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Sep 25, 2014
Tim Lester

Street Food Institute partnership joins business, food, culture and health


The Street Food Institute’s food truck was recently operating at the Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque.

Damon Scott
Reporter- Albuquerque Business First


A nonprofit entrepreneurial venture that launched earlier this year is continuing through into a new phase.

The Street Food Institute, a culinary program that developed a food truck program to train business entrepreneurs, has partnered with the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Agri-Cultura Network.

The reason is to continue to drive a new monthly event — Salud y Sabor. The free event, said spokeswoman Sommer Smith, is to showcase international food demonstrations and tastings that use local produce and promote healthy lifestyles.

Smith said each partner brings a unique take to the event: a mix of learning about local produce and farms in the Albuquerque area; watching chefs create dishes; and providing access to arts and culture.

“There is certainly a case to be made around building out community events like this that intersect local food economies, businesses, cultural activities and health,” Smith said.

The Street Food Institute operates offices in Santa Fe but is more widely known for its food truck that functions both with CNM and as an independent culinary program in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

The Agri-Cultura Network consists of small, local and organic farms that aggregate harvests to sell produce to Albuquerque Public Schools, restaurants and grocery stores, as well as through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

The next Salud y Sabor — A Taste of Veracruz — is scheduled for Sept. 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the NHCC, which is located at 1701 4th St. SW. The chef and owner of Albuquerque’s Pasión Latin Fusion, Elvis Bencomo, will be demonstrating.

505.348.8315 |

Commercial/residential real estate, retail, restaurants

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Sep 24, 2014
Tim Lester

Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi Talk Heroin, Ramen at ‘Street Food’ Launch

Traveler and professional eater Anthony Bourdain came to L.A. Tuesday to preview the fourth season of “Parts Unknown” and introduce CNN Digital’s new show “Street Food with Roy Choi,” on which he appears.

Choi’s Pot restaurant at the Line Hotel hosted a Korean feast for journalists who queried Bourdain and Choi about their favorite spots to film and eat. “Street Food” is premiering on CNN Digital on Oct. 13, with eight five-minute long episodes to start. The first batch, which will all go online at once, are shot around Choi’s home city of Los Angeles, but he said he can imagine covering street culture in New York, Detroit or Chicago in subsequent series.

Though the series has food in the title, it’s not just about tacos and ramen — Choi takes on street art,   and interview musicians like Dilated Peoples and the Beastie Boys, filmmaker Jon Favreau and Youtube star Michelle Phan. (Choi, who basically started the food truck craze with his Kogi BBQ, was featured in Favreau’s “Chef.”)

“We look at the city from many different angles,” Choi said. “It shows how vast this city is.” Among his favorite food stops on the show were Mexican food in Boyle Heights and a rare peek into the kitchen of Tsujita Ramen in West L.A. Choi seems to be continually planning new restaurants, but the energetic chef-entrepreneur seems equally open to launching a TV career like Bourdain’s.

Bourdain talked about the upcoming season of his Emmy-winning “Parts Unknown,” in which he visits such diverse locations as Iran and Massachusetts, where he got his start cooking on Cape Cod. He said it took years to be able to film in Iran. “I think it’s an Iran that other people will be surprised to see.” There’s a “very jarring, confusing difference” between the Iran people see on the news and the life on the street, Bourdain says.

The season kicks off Sunday with a trip to Shanghai, where Bourdain indulged his love for Wong Kar-wai movies by filming in a similar style.

Another episode takes Bourdain back to Massachusetts, home of delicious lobsters and a dangerous rural drug problem. “It’s the heroin episode,” he says bluntly.

When asked how he chooses where to film, Bourdain said he sits around drinking beer with his friends and crew until they decide on a spot and then considers, “What’s the most fucked-up way we can tell the story?” Other episodes this season will journey to Africa, Vietnam and the Bronx.




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Sep 24, 2014
Jim Benson

Fed regulations shut down special needs students’ food cart

Thanks, Michelle Obama! It was a nice program while it lasted, having special needs students in the culinary arts program at Marietta (GA) High School run a food and coffee cart selling baked goods to faculty and students. But the new federal regulations pushed by FLOTUS put the kibosh on it. The Marietta Daily News reports:

 Limits on the calorie counts of foods that may be sold to students have interfered with the special education and culinary arts programs at Marietta High School, said Principal Leigh Colburn.

The special education students sold coffee and food such as muffins to teachers and students every morning last year, but Colburn said the calorie counts of those items fall outside the new regulations because they’re more than 200 calories, which is the limit for a snack sold outside of lunch. In addition, the 2010 federal regulation Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act limits the amount of sodium, sugar and calories in each food served at lunchtime.

The cart was operated and stocked by the 16 students in the special education program, but since August, the coffee cart has been locked in a closet because the students can’t sell to other students, Colburn said.

It’s for their own good, of course. We’re incapable of making these judgments on our own, and need Michelle Obama to tell us what to eat.

Hat tip: Tammy Bruce, iOwnTheWorld

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Sep 24, 2014
Kim Rivers

Bleu Garten food truck park opens in Midtown Oklahoma City Thursday

Midtown Oklahoma City’s first and only food truck park will be opening its doors Thursday, rain or shine.

The venue, Bleu Garten, holds up to six different food trucks daily. It also has a giant Jenga board and a fully-stocked bar.

The food truck park is prepared for all kinds of crazy Oklahoma weather, with misters, heaters and covered seating.

To find a list of daily food trucks at Bleu Garten, visit

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Sep 24, 2014
Tim Lester

Oakland street food: The documentary (Part 2)

“Comida Mobile” explores the Latino experience as mirrored in the lives of pushcart vendors in Fruitvale, Oakland.

Activist Emilia Otero has championed pushcart vending in Oakland for 17 years, fighting to legalize mobile food and providing immigrants a chance to expand their businesses when few job opportunities were available.

Part 3 of the film is forthcoming. Watch Part 1 here.

To learn more about Oakland Local’s initiative on “Street Food: Meet the people who make it” click here. Read the previous installment about the daily life of vendors and the community they’ve cultivated here. Oakland Local staff members Barbara Grady and Simone Larson contributed to this story.

For more stories about Oakland’s street food vendors, follow Oakland Local on Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation at#foodundocumented.

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Sep 24, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart vandalization continues: Power cords cut and stolen from pods across … – The Oregonian

Food carts owners across Portland arrived at their carts Wednesday morning to find their power cords had been cut and stolen. 

Six carts at the Mississippi Marketplace, The Big Egg, Meet BBQ, Minizo, Koi Fusion, Miss Kate’s Southern Kitchen and Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ have had their cords cut or tampered with within the last week, as well as many of the carts at Carts on Foster, including The Angry Unicorn and The Egg Carton. 

“Yesterday, we arrived at the cart to find they had cut the locks off of our power box and simply unplugged our cord and left it on the ground,” Gail Buchanan and Elizabeth D. Morehead, owners of The Big Egg, said in an email. “So we decided to buy PVC pipe to run our cable through so that it would maybe deter someone who just wanted to cut and run.”

Buchanan and Morehead also purchased two locks for their power box. But, when they arrived at the cart Wednesday morning, the duo found their PVC pipe conduit broken into pieces and their 220VAC (voltage alternating current) cord missing. They said the cord was cut live — the locks on the power box remained intact.

Across town at Carts on Foster, other carts shared similar frustrations.

The Egg Carton shared their news on Facebook:

“We are closed today but wanted to let everyone know that most is (sic) the carts at the Pod had their power cords stolen last night. Collectively the cart owners will be out thousands of dollars. Most of the carts will be open tomorrow so please come out to support the carts! We plan to be back Thursday as usual.”

Replacing the cables will cost hundreds of dollars, Buchanan and Morehead said, in addition to the loss of daily sales and spoiled product. 

– Samantha Bakall  

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Sep 24, 2014
Kim Rivers

San Antonio food truck ranked among top in nation

29 Austin Food trucks

Food trucks are becoming more popular across Texas.

Mike W. Thomas
Reporter- San Antonio Business Journal


San Antonio had one food truck ranked in The Daily Meal’s list of “101 Best Food Trucks in America 2014.”

Rickshaw Stop, billed as “San Antonio’s only Pakistani food truck,” ranked at No. 16 on the list.

The family-owned-and-operated affair is run by Sameer and Meagan Siddiqui with the help of Sameer’s mother Gety, Aunt Bina, and Uncle Shabbir. Rickshaw Stop’s two main items are kebabs and samosas.

The Daily Meal said some of the factors it considered when choosing the winners for the list were Twitter followers, Yelp reviews and Yelp stars along with things like menu innovation. It also had to be an actual truck, no carts allowed, and it could not be a truck specializing in things like coffee or desserts only.

Overall, 10 Texas-based food trucks made the 2014 list, down one from last year. Check out the full list of winners here.

Mike W. Thomas covers technology/telecom, military, finance, regulatory issues as well as nonprofits/education.

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Sep 24, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Stops: September 23

Happy Tuesday, food truck followers! Celebrate the first day of autumn with Old Bay-seasoned crab and lobster sandwiches from Feelin’ Crabby or arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) and red beans at Borinquen Lunch Box. You can also sample a number of our favorite vendors this Saturday at our Truck It! food festival. Tickets ($20) are on sale now! 

Too many good trucks to decide? Check out our guide to the Top 25 Food Trucks in Washington and the Wheelie Awards for best individual dishes, deals, and more. 

Capitol Hill (First and C sts., SE), where you’ll find Popped! Republic and Yumpling.

Chinatown (Seventh and G sts., NW), where you’ll find Captain Cookie.

Franklin Square (13th and K sts., NW), where you’ll find Feelin’ Crabby, Pepe, and Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Friendship Heights (Western and Wisconsin Aves., NW), where you’ll find Reggae Vibes.

Metro Center (12th and G sts., NW), where you’ll find Pedro Vinny’s and Taste of Eastern Europe.

NoMa (First and M sts., NE), where you’ll find RockSalt.

Northern Virginia, where you’ll find Bada Bing (Court House), Borinquen Lunch Box, DC Slices (Alexandria), Chef Seb , Fava Pot, NeatMeat (Ballston), and Choupi Crepes (Rosslyn).

State Department (around 21st St. and Virginia Ave., NW), where you’ll find Hungry Heart.

20th and L Streets, Northwest, where you’ll find Habebe.

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