Street food is always present in city life. But recently, street food has gotten a modern, gourmet makeover.
The trend of gourmet food trucks is spreading from the west coast to St. Louis. Most of the food trucks in St. Louis can be found downtown, and offer a variety of cuisines including Mexican, French, American, and Italian.
Erik Jacobs, a pizza-lover from Clayton, is working on a mobile restaurant that serves wood-fired pizzas.
“We’re putting a brick oven in the trailer to do real, authentic pizza,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs’ food truck is not actually a truck at all, but a 1973 airstream trailer that he is renovating into a pizza place.
Similarly, Nicole Shelledy runs a mobile creperie called Holy Crepe in what used to be a school bus.
“I love crepes and how diverse they can be, and my friend lived in Hawaii where there were a lot of food trucks, so we decided to blend the two together,” Shelledy said.
Food trucks are a good idea for people like Shelledy, who works more than one job.
“The biggest benefit is a low overhead and the flexibility to work when and where we want,” Shelledy said.
Shelledy runs a business at home, in addition to her food truck business. Her partner, Anna, also works a job making pizzas. Jacobs agrees that flexibility is the main benefit of running a restaurant on wheels.
“I used to own a restaurant in the Central West End,” Jacobs said. “I loved owning a restaurant but it was actually the other way around. The restaurant owned me. I have three kids and I need some sort of flexibility in my schedule.”
He also looks forward to communicating through the internet. Jacobs plans to set up a Twitter and a Facebook account for his followers to find out where the truck will be.
According to Shelledy, another benefit of working in a food truck is the limited space, which makes managing less complicated. But Shelledy also discusses the cons of running a food truck.
“It is very confusing figuring out what permits are needed to operate a food truck” Shelledy said.
The food truck trend is new to St. Louis, and laws are continually changing.
“A lot of laws are being written as we go along, because they’ve never had to deal with this amount of food trucks before,” Jacobs said.
Some people think that food trucks are a threat to locally owned restaurants. Clayton does not allow food trucks under any circumstances.
“There aren’t that many trucks out there,” Jacobs said. “Certainly, I’m not going to park myself out in front of a pizza restaurant.”
Some restaurants agree that food trucks may be too big a threat.
“My understanding is that they’re not too thrilled, but I feel like competition is always a good thing,” Shelledy said.
Food trucks also have to compete with other food trucks. Shelledy sees that as a good thing, as she enjoys all the different kinds of street food.
“Right now we’re really happy to see other food trucks popping up, especially considering how different they all are,” Shelledy said. “Hopefully it’ll become more popular in St. Louis. I really think food trucks bring foot traffic, and foot traffic is great for any city.”
Food trucks face a challenge getting started, but they may stick around St. Louis.
“Operating a food truck has proven to be challenging mostly because of the confusing rules and regulations in place,” Shelledy said. “They are unclear and currently not food truck friendly. My fingers are crossed that this will [change] soon.”