Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Exploding Industry is Blazing Down the Road Towards You!

Will Food Trucks Help to Revitalize Community Based Commerce?

Food Trucks have become a socio-economic phenomenon that are encroaching upon brick and mortar establishments at a rapid pace. The unique splendor of the movement is that they are locally focused, locally owned , locally supported and provide a real sense of community by providing a place to gather together; the likes of which we haven’t really experienced since the local drive-in burger joints, followed by ‘dragging’ down the boulevard on Friday nights.

This micro-movement really appears to have all of the indicators of providing a bright light of opportunity for growth in an otherwise bleak business and financial forecast. The even better news is that the “Food Truck Craze” is not just happening in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or Boston. The business model is popping up everywhere – even in small towns. And, the food varies as much as the clientele offering everything from cupcakes to Croque Madame.

Many of the trucks promote (and insist) that they serve only locally grown food and purchase all of their supplies from local businesses. This bold and heroic statement might be the beginning of the real support of local community that we have all so longed for and yet, in many ways, felt powerless to affect.

For this, and many other reasons (like the food is fantastic!), I ask you to support your local Food Trucks and Street Food vendors and introduce as many as you can to this exploding industry.

How do you find a Food Truck? Most rely on the internet and walk-by/drive-by traffic, but there are local online sources popping up that specialize in listing the truck, its location, menu and sometimes it even provides a feedback mechanism for customer reviews/ratings. One that I found recently listing a new Truck that is opening next weekend is:  Food Truck Listings and Location Sites. Do a search and I bet you will be amazed at the array of variations available to you right in your area!

What exactly is a Food Truck? Back in the day, we called them Roach Coaches and this really wasn’t a fair name as the food from the trucks was always fresh and delicious. The problem was that they were usually isolated to construction zones and some industrial parks, so there was limited exposure and limited growth potential. Now however, they are hitting posh working areas and some are even teaming up with local coffee or dessert houses and are parking adjacent to them so that the businesses can share the customers. (Again – sounds like the old days when we helped our neighbors and looked for win-win relationships instead of only looking out for ourselves!) If I haven’t provided an adequate explanation of what a Food Truck is, here is a good one: Food Truck

What is the economic outlook for this business model? There are many articles and sources but here are two that I found interesting: Local Food as Economic Development by Ken Meter    The Road Ahead for Food Trucks by Suzy Badaracco

Are these trucks regulated for safety? The simple answer is yes. You will definitely want to check in with your local governmental agency for rules, regulations, permits, etc. but here is an example of Food Truck Food Safety Guidelines that I found to give you an idea of what is expected.

As with most niche’ industries are there off-shoot industries popping up around the Food Trucks? Yes and I only scratched the surface in the list I have provided for you. I know that with the ingenuity of the people that are starting these hip and entrepreneurial businesses, there will be like-minded people who will carve out new creative businesses to support the explosion of what I hope will be our revitalization of support for community based business. Here are a few auxiliary businesses that I found, but there are and will be many more: Mobile Cuisine Magazine   Truck Insurance   Mobile Food Franchises   Food Truck Industry News  

Finally … I would not be a good Aunt if I didn’t tell you about my niece’s new venture with two partners - all veterans of Chairman Bao. They open the Brunch Box truck window this weekend in San Francisco and if you can make it - you’ll be delighted with the amazing menu. Here is a great article with info about their business:

MMussard is a marketing, operations and executive consultant in Los Angeles. You can read her blog at

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