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Loving the Food Truck Trend

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    This year during my spring break, I travelled to New York City. It was impossible not to notice the large amount of trucks serving food all across the Prince street of SoHo, and the huge quantity of customers lined up waiting anxiously for their food to be served. The food looked simple, but well presented in small paper plates. Everything from tacos, to sandwiches to Greek gyros were provided by these trucks. More than food, the trucks seemed to be providing a social gathering were everyone eat standing and some even interact with one another.

    This is a trend that I already had noticed a couple of times in the city of Tampa where I live, but I thought that these trucks were only used for special events, because that was the only occasion where I saw them. The moment I arrived from my trip to New York City, I was anxious to see more of these trucks, and started noticing that they were present not only in events like I used to thinks, but also right in front of Franklin St the street that I live in, and at the famer’s market every weekend in downtown Tampa as well. The trucks were the actual creator of the events.

    So, it is obvious that this trend is growing, but the question is why did these trucks become so popular? When I first saw a food truck here in Tampa I remembered about a reality show I once watched called The Great Food Truck Race. This show aired on the Food Network in 2010, the show consisted of even specialty food trucks (eight in season two) that compete against each other for six weeks in different cities. It is possible that the this food trucks trend originated from this show, but if not, it was when I first hear of such thing called a “Food Truck”.

    A food truck as the name implies is a truck of mobile venue that sells food, all types of foods. With a moving kitchen and catchy names like Killer Samich, Taco Bus, Burger Culture, Fat Tortillas, Jerk Hut, Coconut Bo’s, Nelly Nel’s, Fire Monkey, Gone Bananas and Wicked ‘Wiches, are just some of the perks of these food services. A regular food truck does brisk business at lunch and dinner, popping in for a short time before heading off to the next location.

    According to a release, food trucks are one of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry today, but why is this? Convenience is a major driver in restaurant growth, and food trucks are certainly a convenient option by essentially bringing the restaurant to the consumer, said Hudson Riehle, senior VP of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Our research shows that in just one year, the number of consumers who say they would be likely to visit a food truck has increased significantly” a food truck is then in other words, are restaurants in a more informal, and in a more convenient way of reaching it.

    New research by the National Restaurant Association confirms: Nearly six out of ten (59 percent) would be likely to visit a food truck if their favorite restaurant offered one, up from 47 percent just one year ago; Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) saw a food truck in their community this summer; More than one-quarter (28 percent) of those who saw a food truck this summer made a mobile foodservice purchase. Back last summer I would have portrayed myself in the 18 percent, of what have seen a food truck in their community but have not yet tried it.

    However, throughout almost one year later I have eating in approximately ten different food trucks and 1-2 times in each truck (Anonymous). You might ask how have I been able to reach the same food trucks again? Well, a lot of them are constants in the same places, but others I have been able to truck them through the media. The media has had significant importance in keeping up with the routines of these trucks where are they and where will they next. Not only that but the media has also taken charge of the spread of word about this trend to those people like me. Food trucks have harnessed social media and 140 character messages to connect directly with customers and to create cult followings through grassroots marketing, social media marketing is used in a way to inform potential consumers the places and times these moveable restaurants will be accessible to them (Olivieri).

    An article on the New York Times states that most trucks have two to three workers, and their interaction must be choreographed; some trucks, however, like those serving soft ice cream, have but one employee (Collins). This act shocked me, only two to three workers per food truck, or mobile restaurant? That’s nothing compared to what a usual medium sized restaurant, where you have approximately six servers, probably a person working at the cashier, and like four chefs or helpers inside of the kitchen, that’s just my guess from the eyes of an outsider. So it came to my attention that these food trucks had to provide food at way lesser prices. They have to pay fewer workers and therefore the cost of production is less. Food trucks certainly do not work like traditional restaurants, and therefore should not market like them either.

    An article form the Tampa Bay Times about the first food truck rally that happened here in Tampa, states that most dishes ringing in under $10, with some “tastes” in the $1 to $2 range, so trucks are not only convenient because of their locations but also accessible because of their products at very affordable prices (Jodie). Most dishes under 10 U. S. dollars compared to a restaurant average dish which usually runs higher than 10 U. S. dollars, makes it indeed a very affordable opportunity for consumers to experience.

    The food is often innovative, relatively inexpensive and convenient. For those willing to stand in line and eat from a paper plate, there is usually a warm personal exchange when the meal is passed from chef to diner. In addition, by being inexpensive this new trend has given the opportunity to many to be able to afford to dine outside of home. Which in parallel helps the economy of the city, because more people are taking advantage of services that the community provides, and it all becomes a cycle. “It got rolling because of the recession, because it’s a chance to enjoy gourmet food at street-food prices. ” “The trucks offer entrepreneurs a way to get started in the restaurant business. Yes, they add jobs and money to a city” (Severson).

    An article on the New York Times points out. Again, it all becomes a cycle. Tucks add jobs to the city, therefore peoples incomes go up and they get the get the chance to afford eating out more often than usual. However, by only two to three workers per truck sometimes even one, yes it lowers the cost of production. But, it is common to think that they don’t have much expenses and it is all profits, especially if the owner of the truck is the one working in it. And that is false. Missy Carr, co-owner of the Go Fish!

    Truck says that In fact there are many expenses—licenses, taxes, vehicle and liability insurance, the cost of the truck, plus maintenance and gas, renting space in a licensed food service facility and, of course, food and staff. In addition, because of their size, food trucks can only sell limited amounts of food at a time and in a day. Far less than what a restaurant sells. “We have a lower earning potential” than restaurants, Carr says. But that has not stopped restaurant owners from complaining, especially if a truck stops to sell right next to their restaurant.

    In an article in the Tampa bay times called “Food trucks roll more variety into downtown Tampa lunch scene” talks about how some restaurant neighbors surrounding the food truck lunch scene, were not happy at all. Over at the Metro, Bill Nelligar shook his head at the reduced number of diners. He said he figured many of his regulars went to check out the food truck rally. And he said he and other restaurateurs were already losing business because of the Friday downtown food market (Tillman).

    Identifying the food truck rally as “one more blow”. Many restaurateurs are sick of seeing competition literally drive up outside their windows,” points out other article on the New York Times. It is inevitable to think that this trend will indeed affect others negatively, but to search on that will deviate my main topic of focus. Convenience and affordability is not all to this Food truck trend. The trucks also, add a sense of belonging to a city where people spend much of their time isolated in cars. The trucks have resulted in a family, friend or overall social union.

    Not only by the consumers, but also the relationship worker-consumer when that paper plate filled with food is handed in to you. I myself have experienced this feeling of social gathering in some of my food truck eating experiences. But only few, because the thing with the food trucks is that it is easy to use them as a “in a hurry” eating option. Even if there is a line of people waiting, it still takes you much less time than eating at a regular restaurant, because as said before, workers in a food truck work in a choreographed way.

    Like the Classical Organizational Theory where work is divided into specialized tasks and standardized which has a focus on efficiency and production. Either if its for the convenience of this trend, affordability, socialization or fast production, people are very much attracted to the food truck trend, and it is believed to be progressively growing all throughout the states. New ideas are even arising from it like for example and article in the FoodBeast, where and idea of food truck delivery in freeways is explained.

    Pull up to the closest food truck, conduct your payment transaction online before hand on your smart phone and get your food hurled into your window (Ayrouth). That, as crazy as it may sound, the technology and intuitive is already there for this idea to be a reality. And it would be even more convenient if conducted properly than the regular food truck trend. Another innovative idea that entrepreneurs are having is that the trucks should be a bit bigger for more refrigeration storage, and instead of the truck running out of supplies for the dinner shift, “a larger truck will allow more time to be spent selling, increasing revenues.

    Another idea that is already being applied in places like NYC is the food trucks arranged as a food court type set-up. Although I do think this idea is innovative, it will in turn change the way food trucks operate. Nevertheless ideas like these, contributes a great deal to the growth of this trend. However, many truck owners are using this trend, not as permanent jobs but as a first step of building their own restaurant. An article in the Sacramento press called food trucks: A day in the life says, “food truck is a good incubator for small business” but when it comes to growing, and the restaurant is their goal.

    The food truck business is also used as a starting, relatively low capital point for entrepreneurs to get in the big spectrum, which are the regular restaurants business. “Food trucks are changing the way America eats” Kim Severson, writer of food and cultural trends on the New York Times says.

    Trucks are established and on the rise in many cities. She compares the preponderance of mobile dinning to the introduction of fast food drive throughs in the seventies. This might be true, but the reality that we are living is that meals on wheel and “in” and its popularity is progressively multiplying.

    So as a conclusion I can say that I truly like and support this trend. It has had a very limited negative feedback that is mostly from restaurant owners. But on the other hand food trucks have transformed positively American society in very different tiny ways. These trucks have become so opular for these simple reasons, innovation, accessibility, and convenience. Food trucks gives the opportunity to consumers to dine good food outside of home at cheap prices, convenient places and times, as well as the opportunity to food truck owners to start in a affordable ways something inside the massive food industry.

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    Loving the Food Truck Trend. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from

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