Tracy Samuelson reports.
Mexicue server: Three chicken tacos and one chili slider. OK, your total’s $14.
Tracey Samuelson: For just under a year now, the popular food truck Mexicue has been serving up its blend of Mexican food and Southern BBQ all over New York City — from Midtown one day to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the next.
Dave Schillace is co-owner of Mexicue. He says his bright orange truck has been a great way to test menu ideas and locations. And at $50,000, it cost far less than a full restaurant.
But now Mexicue is one of a growing number of food trucks across the country opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. So why put down roots?
Schillace: There’s something that’s always going wrong with the trucks. It’s a complicated beast, the truck, and I think restaurants are just a more practical way to expand.
You don’t have to worry about parking or weather, not to mention a cramped kitchen. David Weber is president of the New York City Food Truck Association. More than half of the group’s 27 truck owners are opening up restaurants.
David Weber: So I think that really speaks to the idea of the food truck as an incubator, as a gateway to be a more stable part of the New York City culinary community.
So while food trucks are often talked about as a new, disruptive business model, for most owners, they’re more like a cautious first step. Schnitzel & Things started as a truck in 2009 and recently opened a Midtown restaurant. Here’s owner Oleg Voss.
Oleg Voss: We moved into the restaurant because it was always part of the plan. I mean, we opened up the food truck with the intention of growing.
But that’s not to say that food trucks will fade away. Both Schnitzel & Things and Mexicue say they’ll never give up the truck — and the marketing power it packs.
In New York, I’m Tracey Samuelson for Marketplace.