MIAMI: Gourmet Food Trucks Roll Into The Suburbs

By Domenick Celentano |

Miami's "The Fish Box" Food Truck

Is there a street food vendor’s war brewing? Yes, if you are thinking of the new gourmet (upscale) food trucks phenomenon. They started in major cities and now have spread to the suburbs, the most recent location being West Kendall located in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The Miami Herald reports on this food truck race to the suburbs at the Tamiami Truckers Food Court, every Friday evening. Wait, did I read this correctly… the suburbs? Yes and this is what I believe to be a new opportunity for food entrepreneurs to move away from the crowded venue of food trucks plying the city, stopping street side at multiple locations during several meal day parts throughout the day. This is an interesting example of event driven eating, where there is more than just food delivered weekly. This is truly a social event spurred by wonderful aromas of food and exciting tastes delivered by these mobile food entrepreneurs.

A quick check of twitter for Tamiami Truckers Food Court results in a dizzying array of vendors and their scrumptious offerings. The Fishbox, a local restaurant and fish farket tweets “If you love seafood, don’t mind standing up to eat it, and love extravaganza, La Camaronera is the place to go. Check out our mobile food truck, The Fish Box!”  Then there is Grill Master Café touting “..the best Burgers, Fritas, and Pinchos! Come try our food!” and Nacho Mamas Grill featuring mouthwatering Mexican food that is “…fresh, tasty, flavorful, cheesy, spicy, muy delicioso”.

There is even a truck that capitalizes on the ever increasing Slow Food Trend. What is Slow Foods?  According Slow Food USASlow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.” The Slow Food Truck delivers “…Slow Food inspired culinary creations to the South Florida region and beyond. MMMMMM!!! That’s good!!!!

The Food Truck phenomenon has the caught the attention of The Food Channel in their series The Great Food Truck Race. I am usually skeptical of reality television shows such as Shark Tank and The Apprentice since they do not accurately represent the realities of entrepreneurship and starting a small business. I believe the Food Channel show is exposing this business startup idea to budding food entrepreneurs allowing them to get into the specialty food business and extremely low costs, compared to the costs of building and running a restaurant or specialty food store. Companies like Food Cart USA have helped startups like Burger Beast, Dim Ssam a Gogo and Jeff’s Original Fish Taco grow their business.

Technomic, the leading foodservice research and consulting firm, reported in  11 for ’11: Technomic names leading restaurant trends the surge in food trucks, which reinforces that this is not a fad but a solid trend for 2011 and beyond.

Gourmet Mobile Food Trucks are truly scalable, meaning the business has few impediments to growth, vs. a stand alone specialty restaurant or specialty food store. So, Calibi Taco & Burrito mobile food trucks entered the business of food truck franchises, providing a turnkey business offering interesting fare and “healthier for you offerings”  With a menu featuring New Generation Tacos, Calbi Burrito, Quesadillas, and the Calbi Rice Bowl, these are food trucks that are a better choice vs. bringing your lunch to work from left-overs. They are targeting a price of $6.99 makes it a an affordable indulgence vs. heading off to your local fast food establishment. Other brands such as Qdoba, Sizzler and Dairy Queen are also in fast pursuit.
Gourmet Food Trucks are surely not your same old restaurant and part of the larger food and beverage trends articulated here on this site, namely, frugality fatigue, affordable indulgence and consumers becoming recession weary. Do you agree or disagree with me that Gourmet Food Trucks are here to stay? Do you either own a Gourmet Food Truck or are an avid fan of them?