Browsing articles tagged with " Food Trucks"
Feb 18, 2014
Jim Benson

The Columbian: Food Carts Seek Foothold In Clark County

To those who love a taste of city life, there’s something about the presence of food carts that makes a city feel real.

But food carts haven’t established much of a foothold in Vancouver, even in the pedestrian-friendly downtown district that has the county’s largest concentration of office workers and some out-of-town visitors. And despite the desire of some downtown promoters and city planners to create urban amenities that would appeal to young entrepreneurial workers, Vancouver appears far from embracing even a semblance of the food cart culture that has become entrenched in Portland.

“You need a lot of foot traffic, which Portland has,” said Gary Bickett, a Clark County Public Health department program manager in charge of food cart inspections. “I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Bickett isn’t alone. Heidi Batchelor and her husband, Donny, have operated food carts in Clark County for more than a decade. They’ve managed to make a living mostly at special events, but Batchelor recalls establishing a sidewalk burrito cart at Esther Short Park in 2002.

“We were the first ones to get a street-use permit (for a food cart),” she said. “We had no business whatsoever.” It took the couple about five years to become profitable with their Chewy’s Really Big Burritos food stand, which they set up at special events and, recently, at Clark College, she said. She sees limited potential for full-time food carts, and even worries that expansion of carts and trucks in Vancouver’s downtown could harm existing restaurants.

Certainly, a handful of mobile food entrepreneurs have entered into the fray in recent years. Newcomers have favored costly mobile food trucks over the more Portland-like food carts, which allow them to move and create what Steve Valenta, an owner of the Mighty Bowl food truck, calls “artificial pockets of density” in various locations in the downtown and uptown districts. And at Clark College, three carts are operating under a two-year contract during a reconstruction of the college’s culinary arts program kitchen. Downtown, the Weiner Wagon at East 12th and Main streets has survived for decades with a small, low-cost menu.

Food carts and mobile trucks must win approvals from state, county, and city regulatory agencies that deal with health, land-use and business-licensing issues. The regulatory structure is quite different from that of Portland and Multnomah County, Ore., and with fewer applications, existing policies are not always clear and logical, say those involved in the process.

One big difference is that it’s easier on this side of the river to license and operate mobile food trucks, which generally are allowed in commercial districts. One challenge for the food trucks in Vancouver: the city’s two- or three-hour parking meter time limits crimp the ability of trucks to stay in one place for a full lunch break.

Both the city of Vancouver and Clark County are considering a review of policies affecting mobile food operations, with the intention of smoothing out some rough edges. But policies more friendly to carts and food trucks won’t be well-received by everyone. Restaurant owners in particular worry that any expansion of mobile food offerings will erode their own businesses.

Tommy Owens, owner of Tommy O’s downtown, said he would have little patience with a food truck parked curbside outside his restaurant, even it the law allows it.

“I’ve spent the last 23 years trying to build a profitable business,” he said last week while preparing for his lunch-hour crowd. “We’re all sharing the same market, and I don’t see a lot of new businesses coming in.”

Sign of vitality

Vancouver’s Downtown Association hasn’t taken a position for or against promoting policies that would open the way for more mobile food outlets. But Lee Rafferty, the association’s executive director, said food carts and trucks send a signal of vitality.

“The VDA sees them as part of a vibrant downtown,” said Rafferty. “It’s a great option for folks.” But, she added, “we understand there’s a bit of tension.”

Stacey Donovan, Vancouver’s special events coordinator, said she sees growing vendor interest in special events including park concerts and movie nights. She maintains a list of about 15 vendors for those special events, but says it’s up to others to decide whether vendors should be established longer-term in such places as Esther Short and Turtle Place parks. “As a resident of Vancouver, I like the thought of having more choices and options,” she said.

Policy issues

No one expects a rush of food carts anything close to what has happened in Portland, a nationally recognized food cart mecca with an estimated 500 carts in numerous business districts and neighborhoods. But officials in all levels of local government are looking for ways to simplify and coordinate the approval process for mobile food outlets.

Chad Eiken, the city’s community and economic development director, said the city Planning Commission is likely to launch a review of regulatory processes as part of this year’s work plan. Among the issues: whether to regulate the proximity of food trucks to existing “brick-and-mortar” restaurants, whether to allow food cart enclaves at such places as downtown’s Block 10 or Turtle Place, and whether to make it easier to establish food carts in the city. Such food cart pods would raise environmental and health issues to a whole new level in terms of sewer and water systems, said Bickett, the county health department program manager.

Eiken says the city isn’t seeing a surge in demand for carts, but says Vancouver should be ready if that demand develops. “We think it’s essential to have food options for a variety of people,” he said.

Parking remains a touchstone issue. Food truck operators can’t stay beyond a meter’s time limit without paying the $18 parking fine, and they can’t simply move to a new meter on the same block. That’s considered evasion under city code, so at least one truck operator said he simply moves around the corner when the meter runs out. Valenta, the Mighty Bowl owner, said he’s paid hundreds of dollars in fines.

Mike Merrill, the city’s parking services manager, said time limits are established so that spaces are available for business customers. He worries about what would happen if a number of trucks roll up on downtown streets.

“My concern is that we are prepared to deal with the issue if it becomes a major issue,” he said. “From a parking perspective, it’s my job to make sure parking rules are maintained.”

Clark County commisssioners last week approved new standards for small coffee and food stands, which previously had to meet the same standards as a full restaurant.

“The board was wanting to make it easier for these small food operations to come in and set up shop,” said Marty Snell, the county’s community development department director. The county has just a handful of small food stands now and a few applicants were waiting for the new regulations, Snell said. The rules faced no opposition from restaurant owners, he added.

Different customer needs’

Valenta says he has a strong personal ethic of not parking his truck in front of restaurants. He reaches out to restaurant owners if he hears they’re complaining about food trucks. He hopes to convince them that they can work together rather than fight.

“If your having a lunch with other people,” you’ll go to a restaurant,” Valenta said. Mobile food sites, he said “fill different customer needs.” He recognizes that Vancouver, with far lower population density than Portland, will never be a cart haven.

But Valenta has found a business model that works, moving the truck to different locations and using social media to keep his customers informed. His menu of healthy foods is a big draw, Valenta s ays. The former banker now has nine employees and is managing to make a modest living.

While Owens, of Tommy O’s, suggests that food trucks should serve isolated industrial areas with few food choices, Valenta has no interest. Nor is he interested in finding a location on the affluent east side of the county.

“We want to grow urban Vancouver,”he said. We want to make it interesting and bring customers downtown.”

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Feb 18, 2014
Kim Rivers

‘World’s Largest Food Truck Rally’ returning to Tampa

The record-setting food truck rally that served a reported 20,000 hungry customers in Tampa last summer will take another spin at the Florida State Fairgrounds this spring.


Organizers for the “World’s Largest Food Truck Rally Part II” have set the second mass gathering of mobile eateries for March 29 and 30, expanding the event to two days.


The goal is to break the world record for most food trucks gathered in one place, set at last year’s rally with 99. This time they hope to more than double that number with 200 trucks.


The hugely popular 2013 rally exceeded organizer Jeremy Gomez’s most optimistic expectations by nearly 10,000 customers. Some trucks ran out of menu items by midafternoon, and some had to make runs to nearby grocery stores to restock as many as three times during the event.


The event will be free admission, with a fee of $6 to park at the fairgrounds. Trucks will be charging individually for food.

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Feb 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Meet the latest Portland food cart turned restaurant



The Tamale Boy restaurant opens March 14 at 1764 N.E. Dekum St. in Portland.

The Tamale Boy restaurant opens March 14 at 1764 N.E. Dekum St. in Portland.









Wendy Culverwell
Staff reporter- Portland Business Journal

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Jaime Soltero Jr., owner of Portland’s popular Tamale Boy taco truck, is opening a permanent restaurant.

The brick-and-mortar edition of Tamale Boy debuts March 14 at 1764 N.E. Dekum St. in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

The restaurant seats 184 with an outdoor patio and full bar providing meals, tapas and happy hour around fire pits.

The Tamale Boy menu features gluten-free, dairy-free GMO tamales made from locally sourced ingredients and family recipes. The business launched as Mayahuel Catering in 2011 and expanded to include a tamale truck in 2012.

The restaurant was designed by Skylab Architecture.

Wendy Culverwell covers real estate, retail and hospitality.

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Feb 18, 2014
Kim Rivers

Council committee votes to extend food truck pilot program

A committee of the Urban County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend a pilot program to allow food trucks in limited downtown areas until the end of the year.

That was good news to Andrew Suthers.

Suthers is one of the owners of Gastro Gnomes, a food truck that opened on Monday night. The purchase and outfitting of the truck cost more than $100,000. Permits and fees cost more than $1,000, he said.

“I will definitely take advantage of the program,” Suthers said after Tuesday’s 9-0 vote.

The full council has to vote on the extension. That is expected to happen in coming weeks.

The Urban County Council in June approved a six-month pilot program allowing food trucks in six downtown zones after several months of debate. At the time of the June vote, the council agreed to review the program at the end of the six-month trial period. The council voted in December to extend the program until March, allowing them to review the program in February and see whether there were any complaints.

Councilwoman Shevawn Akers, who had pushed for the pilot program, said that there have been no complaints or citations since the program started in June. Only four vendors participated the program. But the number of food trucks operating in Lexington has increased dramatically over the past 18 months because they know that Lexington has a public spaces for food trucks, Akers said. Akers said that the program not only offers Lexington residents more diverse food options, it’s an important economic development tool.

“It provides people the opportunity to start their own business that don’t have the means to open a brick-and-mortar business,” Akers said. “There are food truck operators that have grown from one employee to 11. There are food truck operators who have also grown to open brick-and-mortar businesses.”

Food truck operators said that two key factors limited participation in the pilot program: time limits for parking in downtown areas at lunch and timing of the pilot program.

Lexington Parking Authority, which controls the city’s parking, only allowed the trucks to park at metered spots for two hours between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. That was not enough time for a lunch set up and tear down for most food trucks, operators said. Food trucks are allowed to operate for unlimited time at metered spaces in the six downtown areas at night.

Also, by the time the program was approved in June, many food trucks were already booked for the summer.

Sean Tibbetts, president of the Bluegrass Food Truck Association, said he expects more food trucks to participate in the program if the council gives its final approval likely sometime in early March. Tibbetts, owner of Cluckin’Burgers, said the group decided to work within the constraints of the two-hour time limit at lunch rather than ask for it to be changed.

“We’ll try to figure out the two-hour limitations,” Tibbetts said. “When they implemented it in the middle of the season last year there just wasn’t time for many people to participate.”

Bradford BBQ participated in the pilot program last year and plans to do so again in the summer.

Mathew Bradford of Bradford BBQ said he first started as a catering company and then moved to a food truck business in 2010.

The food truck business helped him open his restaurant in the Eastland Shopping Center in 2013.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t started with the food truck,” Bradford said.

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.

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Feb 18, 2014
Jim Benson

A humble food cart — and its mouth-watering offerings

What’s wonderful about Mexico is that some of the greatest stuff isn’t expensive. Take street food. And there’s one food cart that lives up to its fabulous reputation.

I mean the La Guerrerense seafood cart in the seaside town of Ensenada in Baja California. If you are ever in the area, you must go. The cart has been an institution since 1960.

I was there on Saturday, and I had the freshest, best seafood of anywhere I’ve been outside a sushi restaurant next to the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

Mind you, the Guerrerense is nothing special to look out – just a simple street cart on the corner of First and Alameda. The giveaway is the crowd of people crowded outside. It’s drawn a lot of attention. TV food show host and chef Anthony Bourdain has been there (here’s a YouTube clip of a segment of the show), and so has celebrity chef Rick Bayless (here’s a clip of his visit). They both rave about the place.

I’d heard about it from colleagues who visit Baja a lot. So when I had to pop down there from Tijuana for an unrelated story, I went with hunger pangs. I was not disappointed. I started with tostadas – a fish one, then a crab salad one. I couldn’t stop there. So I had a shrimp one and a fish pate one. I tried one with a mango salsa and another with a peanut sauce. Yumm!

That was about $5.50 worth of food. But I was still hungry. So I had what looked like the piece de resistance – a campechano cocktail. This is a large mixed seafood cebiche. As best as I could tell, it contained fresh octopus, scallops, sea snails, clams, shrimp, sea urchins, a mussel or two and a couple of unrecognizable things. All in brine, a sprinkle of salt, slices of avocada on top, then bathed in the juice of fresh lime. It tasted like a reduction of all the best coming out of the Pacific Ocean, two blocks away.

I went to heaven. And in the future, I will drive far out of my way to go back. You don’t get seafood fresher than at La Guerrerense unless you are on the high seas with a fishing pole in your hand.

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Feb 18, 2014
Tim Lester

Eating out sector to reach £82.5bn by 2015

The growth will be supported by stronger consumer spending power, reflecting improved economic prospects, and the expansion of branded restaurant and managed pub chains to account for 5.5% in 2014, compared with 4.5% last year.

Simon Stenning, Allegra Foodservice strategy director, predicted the rise in the eating out market will be the highest since the recession began. “This will come from a combination of increasing consumer eating out participation, an uptick in visit frequency and some average spend gains as consumers start to feel more confident about their personal finances and spending power,” he said.

‘Stronger customer loyalty’

“However, the growth will be hard-fought for, in an increasingly competitive trading environment and gains will be patchy across the market. The onus on operators will remain innovating on product, refining menu price architectures and adding greater value across the consumer experience to build stronger customer loyalty.”

His conclusions were drawn from Allegra’s Foodservice Market Outlook report, based on interviews with senior executives. While 75% of those polled expected to see trade improve further this year, most believed full economic recovery will not take hold until the second half of next year.

Intensifying competition was identified as a core business challenge, surpassing worries about rising food costs. Building stronger customer loyalty will be a key success factor, most agreed.

The research also highlighted that the pub market continues to polarise, between premium operators, with valued points of difference, and outmoded pubs with ‘non-descript’ food offers.

Preference for informality

Stenning highlighted key consumer trends that required attention as being: learning the lessons of the recession and a preference for informality. Both needed to be reflected in “skilful menu engineering, with selective premiumisation”, he said.

Meanwhile, Charles Wilson, ceo of Booker, urged food suppliers at the City Food Lecture yesterday (February 17) to ditch supermarkets in favour of new channels, including new emerging formats such as street food.

After 60 years of strong supermarket growth, the sector is slowing down, as “the hare of the supermarkets become the tortoise”, he said.

“More food is being is being cooked by professionals – whether that is in fast food outlets, restaurants, the workplace or catering in institutions. People will continue to east out of home or to have cooked food delivered to their home.”

Read more about why Wilson thinks British supermarkets are approaching their sell-by date here

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Feb 18, 2014
Tim Lester

MC Meets: Candida Balfour On Being At The Centre Of London’s Exciting Street …

Candida Balfour, also known rather adorably as Shrimpy, set up the super-healthy Rainbo street food van with her boyfriend, Ben Sheinwald. A chunk of money from their delicious street food goes to their Food for Freedom initiative, which rescues child labourers in Nepal.

As Candida, Ben and Rainbo get ready to start trading at Street Feast’s latest venture at Hawker House in Haggerston, London, we chat to her to find out how she went about quitting her day job and joining the street food revolution.


Tell us what you love most about being a van foodie trader.

‘I love that every day is different and we meet new people every time we trade. There’s such a sense of community at an event like Hawker House, and so much great food to try out. As well as being flexible, working for ourselves means we can stay true to our values. I do hate the early starts though, especially in winter!’

How did you get to where you are today?

‘I quit my office job to run Petra Barran’s ice cream van with my boyfriend Ben in the summer of 2010. We could see the street food revolution going on in London, and saw that street food was a really exciting place to be, so decided to create Rainbo, our own healthy charitable food truck, the following summer.’

What advice would you give someone trying to break into your industry?

‘It isn’t easy at the start and you have to be prepared for every kind of unexpected setback. If you believe in your product and know how to sell it you will forge your own path. It’s great to have events like Hawker House that give you a platform for your product.’

Who inspires you?

‘Everyone we meet through street food who does their own thing is so inspiring and we all share the same values and vision.’

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Don’t worry about it until it happens.’

Tell us your five-year goal…

‘We are not sure where Rainbo will take us, we are just doing our thing and seeing what happens! We have set up our own initiative, Food For Freedom, where 20p from every sale goes to BASE, a charity that helps children in Nepal, and would love to raise enough money to build a transit home for the child workers we help rescue through the charity, which costs thirty thousand pounds. Slowly slowly…’

What’s your plan B?

‘We don’t have one, we are flying by the seat of our pants and enjoying the ride!’

Which career achievement are you most proud of?

‘Getting Rainbo and Food for freedom off the ground has been a huge achievement.’

What have you learnt along the way?

‘To expect the unexpected and stay calm even when everything is going wrong!’

We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – do you manage it?

‘Street food is pretty all consuming so you have to really love it as you work around the clock and the work/play divide tends to blur. Time out is really important but if you love what you do and the people you work with it is less vital.’

How would your colleagues describe you?

‘Chatty, gregarious and excitable.’

Rainbo will be at Hawker House every Friday and Saturday until 22 March, serving fresh Asian cuisine, and joining a rotating line up of top street food traders from around the UK.

Entry free before 7pm, £3 After 5pm-Midnight. Every Friday and Saturday until 21/22 March.


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Feb 18, 2014
Tim Lester

MC Meets: Candida Balfour On Being At The Centre Of London’s Exciting Street …

Candida Balfour, also known rather adorably as Shrimpy, set up the super-healthy Rainbo street food van with her boyfriend, Ben Sheinwald. A chunk of money from their delicious street food goes to their Food for Freedom initiative, which rescues child labourers in Nepal.

As Candida, Ben and Rainbo get ready to start trading at Street Feast’s latest venture at Hawker House in Haggerston, London, we chat to her to find out how she went about quitting her day job and joining the street food revolution.


Tell us what you love most about being a van foodie trader.

‘I love that every day is different and we meet new people every time we trade. There’s such a sense of community at an event like Hawker House, and so much great food to try out. As well as being flexible, working for ourselves means we can stay true to our values. I do hate the early starts though, especially in winter!’

How did you get to where you are today?

‘I quit my office job to run Petra Barran’s ice cream van with my boyfriend Ben in the summer of 2010. We could see the street food revolution going on in London, and saw that street food was a really exciting place to be, so decided to create Rainbo, our own healthy charitable food truck, the following summer.’

What advice would you give someone trying to break into your industry?

‘It isn’t easy at the start and you have to be prepared for every kind of unexpected setback. If you believe in your product and know how to sell it you will forge your own path. It’s great to have events like Hawker House that give you a platform for your product.’

Who inspires you?

‘Everyone we meet through street food who does their own thing is so inspiring and we all share the same values and vision.’

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Don’t worry about it until it happens.’

Tell us your five-year goal…

‘We are not sure where Rainbo will take us, we are just doing our thing and seeing what happens! We have set up our own initiative, Food For Freedom, where 20p from every sale goes to BASE, a charity that helps children in Nepal, and would love to raise enough money to build a transit home for the child workers we help rescue through the charity, which costs thirty thousand pounds. Slowly slowly…’

What’s your plan B?

‘We don’t have one, we are flying by the seat of our pants and enjoying the ride!’

Which career achievement are you most proud of?

‘Getting Rainbo and Food for freedom off the ground has been a huge achievement.’

What have you learnt along the way?

‘To expect the unexpected and stay calm even when everything is going wrong!’

We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – do you manage it?

‘Street food is pretty all consuming so you have to really love it as you work around the clock and the work/play divide tends to blur. Time out is really important but if you love what you do and the people you work with it is less vital.’

How would your colleagues describe you?

‘Chatty, gregarious and excitable.’

Rainbo will be at Hawker House every Friday and Saturday until 22 March, serving fresh Asian cuisine, and joining a rotating line up of top street food traders from around the UK.

Entry free before 7pm, £3 After 5pm-Midnight. Every Friday and Saturday until 21/22 March.


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Feb 18, 2014
Kim Rivers

Yellowhammer Brewing to host food truck for the first-time this time Saturday – The Birmingham News

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — How about a pint of Belgian White to go with your forearm-sized chicken burrito? Or washing down some carne asada
fries with a cold Lost Highway? Maybe fish tacos and a Rebellion Red Ale?

All these things are going to be possible Feb. 15, when
standout Huntsville beer-maker Yellowhammer Brewing hosts a food truck for the first time at their
brewery, located at 2406 Clinton Ave.

Hazel Green-based Crave Heat, a truck focused on zesty,
large-portioned Tex-Mex fare
, will be at Yellowhammer 5 – 9 p.m. Yellowhammer
head brewer Keith Yager says the brewery expects to host more food trucks in
the future, and that Crave Heat’s Saturday debut there is a trial run for doing
so.

Beers expected to be on tap this weekend include Belgian
White, Lost Highway, Rebellion Red Ale and a fresh batch of 1819 Dubbel. The Yellowhammer
tasting room is open 4:30 – 8:30 p.m. Fridays and 2 – 9 p.m. Saturdays. 

In March, YH will begin opening its outdoor beer garden, an outdoor space with picnic tables, for tastings and live music performances. 

Check twitter.com/YellowhammerAle for updates.

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Feb 18, 2014
Kim Rivers

WAND’s food truck digital signage solution recognized at DSE

WAND Corp. won gold at the 2014 Digital Signage Expo for its digital menu board solution for food trucks. According to a news release, judges voted for WAND’s content for Juicys, a provider of outdoor dining concessions.

“Because food trucks need to satisfy unique customers in different environments, the use of a content library is mandatory for success, making the use of traditional menu boards a problem to resolve,” the release said. Juicys added a WAND Mini Controller, which allowed operators to engage customers with a cloud-based library of WAND content.

“It really brought that ‘wow’ factor I was looking for,” Brett Enright, Juicys’ owner, said in the release.

Juicys is one of the first food trucks to benefit from using digital menu boards, according to the release.

“These road warriors are part of the move toward digital signage,” said Dave Perrill, president of WAND. “Sales success truly rests with serving the right content to the right audience at the right time. That’s what digital is all about.”

Read more about digital menu boards.

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