Street Food: Urban Foraging

Gandolfo's brings it's brick & mortar brand to the streets.....

By Suzy Badaracco |

Gandolfo's brings it's brick & mortar brand to the streets.....

“Lilly, get over here – she just got that blue box from the garage, where are you?” Teddy yelled – she was always a bit bossy towards Lilly. And it wasn’t as if she had far to look as they lived together in a 24”x30” space with a corner tarp for tunneling. But still, the sight of the box certainly was cause for excitement. Bubbly underwater like sounds emanated from the tarp shadows and with a grand stretch of her hind leg Lilly emerged and lay down on a flowered red pillow. “What are you going on about?” Teddy just stared in the direction of the laundry room and Lilly, seeing what the fuss was about, ran to the front of the cage and started “weeking” her head off in anticipation. The blue box, indeed. “I’m going first, I’m going first”, Lilly said “and you better not kick her or she may just leave you here.” “Just stay focused”, Teddy snorted.

In the moments that followed each guinea pig was scooped up and placed in the blue carrier, carried outside and released in a bottomless fenced enclosure on the grass. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, the tender grassy lusciousness – it is Nirvana, Shangri-La – I am a forager, hear me squeek!!” Lilly proclaimed as she inhaled the grass. “Oh man, get a hold of yourself – you are an urban forager”, Teddy said as she felt Lilly was constantly embarrassing her. Lilly snuffled, “Well it’s not like this stuff grows on trees you know.”

I am at the NRA show in Chicago right now and just presented on street food yesterday. And while reviewing the slides on the plane I had an epiphany about the difference between street food and brick and mortars (restaurants). When a pattern find its voice there is just nothing like it. There was one slide in particular that was leaving me flat. There was something unfinished about it. The slide was listing the Strengths and Weaknesses of food trucks vs. brick and mortars. And it went like this:

Strengths & Weaknesses



  • ·         Cool, Novelty, Halo Effect
  • ·         Fan based
  • ·         Agility- high
  • ·         Entrance Cost – low
Brick & Mortar 


  • Roots, Legacy
  • $ high
  • Fan based
  • Voice – loud

  • ·         $ low
  • ·         Volatile, Risk – high
  • ·         Voice  – soft
  • ·         Little/No History

  • Agility – low
  • Adversarial Target
  • Entrance Cost – high
  • Common

It occurred to me that the difference lays in the personality of the two. Trucks behave more like herd animals while brick & mortars behave more like pack animals. Herd animals move together, live together in larger numbers than pack animals and are foragers. Pack animals live in smaller groups and tend to be hunters who fight for their prey just as Brick and mortars compete with each other for customers.

Food trucks behave more like the prey in that they cause consumers to become urban foragers who must take time to seek them out. Whether it is via Twitter, Face book or some fantastic location Ap, food trucks draw consumers to them – they are the hunted in other words. In a time of recovery, when consumers are regaining their sense of adventure, food trucks are perfectly set up to quench this thirst. Foraging itself is a trend and therefore Urban Foraging is clearly a Morph, the newest cousin in the spotlight so to speak. While brick and mortars clearly have a larger independent voice, food trucks have a communal voice with articles rarely written about a single food truck but instead about a group of trucks within a particular city. Although brick and mortars cannot re-create this behavior, as they are immobile by definition, they can launch trucks themselves.

And while lateral moves like this are the obvious next direction what I wonder is what are brick and mortars going to do if:

  • •         Retail moves into trucks?
  • •         Private label moves into trucks?
  • •         Trucks partner with either retail or private label?