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The Food Truck: An Old Business Idea Worth Exploring

by Stacey Thompson

Food trucks have been around for quite some time now, an idea sprung forth from an older necessity-driven idea, the chuckwagon. It is a simple proposition, really: instead of the public going to a restaurant or diner to eat, the food comes to them. One could consider it the older cousin of straight-to-your-door food delivery.

In the later years of the nineteenth century, food trucks make their appearance in the streets of New York, selling simple, inexpensive, and easy to eat fare that could fill the stomach for a pittance compared to regular restaurant cuisine. These lunch wagons (“roach coaches” being the derogatory term for the not so sanitary examples) served hungry customers at regular hours as well as odd schedules, particularly the night shift.

The humble food truck has experienced a great resurgence all across the United States and the rest of the world. This time around, they’re not just serving low-budget, barely edible foodstuffs just to keep the customers’ stomachs filled; food trucks are at the cutting edge of modern cuisine, fearlessly exploring both old and new ways to prepare and serve food. This is no longer your grandfather’s idea of “street food.”

With the ever-growing demand for better-tasting and healthier organically-grown food, now may just be the time to throw your hat into the food business, and the food truck presents a lower barrier of entry, compared to that of a full-blown restaurant. Enumerated below are just a handful of reasons why you should consider starting a food truck business:

Mobility and Flexibility

This has to be the most obvious advantage of putting up a food truck eatery, especially when comparing it against a less-modular food stall or a full-blown diner or restaurant. There is almost no such thing as a slow business day for a food truck, for as long as there is a potential high customer traffic area within driving distance. Given the ascension of food trucks in terms of food quality and taste, the trend has actually been turned on its head; people are practically chasing their favorite food trucks.

Food trucks can easily change schedules to adapt to special occasions such as festivals, carnivals, fairs, and other outdoor events that bring in multitudes of hungry people.

Low Starting/Operating Costs

The small size of the food truck may limit the amount of customers it can serve at any one time, but the upside of that is that with the small crew and compact work and service area (most food trucks don’t even bother with tables and chairs), the maintenance costs won’t eat too much into the profits, either. Note that you still have to pay your dues to the cities and towns you operate in, just as any business establishment would.

Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) mans his “Taco-Mergency” food truck in The Five-Year Engagement. Photo by Glen Wilson © 2012 Universal Studios.

Since this piece is supposed to encourage people to get into the business in the first place, consider that the biggest financial investments lie in the truck and the food preparation equipment installed within it. Reliable, albeit used freightliner trucks would make sufficient platforms for up-and-coming food truck business.

Gastronomical Freedom

Food trucks are adaptable in more ways than one. Since they are not mired by any requirements to adhere to any traditions or orthodox ways of preparing certain food, they are in the position to innovate. They can take the best dishes or methods from any number of food cultures, so long as it is easy to serve and consume, as street food should be. Fusion cuisines are very common among food truck circles, and this ensures a wealth of culinary variety for the customers.

Your limited menu can also be a boon to you when you start sourcing for your ingredients. You can opt to buy better-quality produce to supply your budding food business with, and your customers will definitely appreciate tastier and healthier food, thanks to premium ingredients. Go ahead and cater to a select group of eaters, for as long as you know where most of them are. All you have to do is drive on over there!

With these points, I hope more will embark in this exciting food enterprise!

About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and has her own set of favorite food trucks that she stalks. Stacey and her friends have a blog, Word Baristas.

Picture Credits Below-Accessorize Spring Summer 2012 Lookbook