High Tech Gourmet on the Go: The Food Truck Craze

by Margie Gomez

The hottest new craze in the restaurant industry today seems to be mobilization. Fancy new food trucks, once called ‘roach coaches’ are popping up in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Houston. With the invention and popularity of social media sites like Twitter, these new mobile restaurants are easy for customers and fans to find and track.

Whether they are selling ice cream or Korean tacos, food trucks have gained a huge fan following. Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go, a Los Angeles mobile eatery, is one of the first new food truck restaurants to put a gourmet spin on its offerings and is sometimes credited with starting the craze. With over 60,000 fans on Twitter, crowds often reach up to 600 per stop and lines can last for hours. Still, with destination alerts on Twitter, Kogi fans start lining up before the trucks even arrive.

Food truck outfitters such as Road Stoves and Mobi Munch, give aspiring operators a hand by offering turnkey services that enable fast and easy startup. Road Stoves offers fully equipped and customized trucks for lease, and can even provide secure facilities for storage and parking. Panasonc Lite-rayThey take care of permits, insurance, and maintenance so that business owners can focus on the food and the customers. Mobi Munch offers similar services with trucks that are equipped with the most up-to-date food service equipment and POS technology, such as Panasonic’s new Lite-ray. By necessity POS workstations in food trucks must either be handheld mobile units or have a very small footprint.

The restaurant equipment needed is dependent on the type of food is being sold. The traditional lunch trucks did not always require cooking since most of the products sold were packaged sandwiches, sodas, and other pre-packaged items. But the higher-end gourmet trucks that are so popular today need not only refrigeration units, but grills, fryers, and more.

Because every state and/or city has different requirements, it’s important to know what those regulations are before purchasing any equipment. That’s why companies like Mobi Munch and Road Stoves are both practical and popular. They take the guesswork out of starting a food truck business.

Success is a combination of good, innovative food items; customer engagement and communication; and, as always, a good business plan.

According to GQ, the top 10 food trucks of 2009 were:

  1. Spencer on the Go! in San Francisco, CA (www.spenceronthego.com)
  2. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream in New York City, NY (www.vanleeuwenicecream.com)
  3. Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles, CA (www.kogibbq.com)
  4. Mmmpanadas in Austin, TX (www.mmmpanadas.com)
  5. Cravings in New York City, NY (www.nyccravings.com)
  6. Fojol Bros. of Merlindia in Washington, D.C. (www.fojol.com)
  7. Marination in Seattle, WA (www.marinationmobile.com)
  8. Fresh Local in Portsmouth, NH (www.freshlocaltruck.com)
  9. Border Grill in Los Angeles, CA (www.bordergrill.com)
  10. Streetza in Milwaukee, WI (www.streetza.com)