If you live in or have visited Southern California lately, you probably noticed that the area has become a Mecca of mobile confections. With around 6,000 food trucks in LA County alone, and thousands of others popping up across the country, we think this is one trend in small business worth watching.
With empty stomachs and budding curiosity, we decided to see for ourselves what the food truck hype was all about. The Burnt Truck, one of Orange County’s most popular food trucks, seemed like the perfect place for a proper introduction into the vast world of gourmet food on the go. The Burnt Truck features an ever-changing menu of gourmet sliders cooked up by a team of classically trained chefs with a passion for all things comfort food. After a wait in what seemed like a never-ending line, we had high hopes that the food wouldn’t disappoint. It didn’t. The sliders were original and delicious, but what really hit the spot were The Burnt Truck’s tater tots – hot and crispy with a dip of nostalgia. Just as impressive as the food was the service. It was easy to see, these guys were doing what they loved and loved what they were doing. The food truck business has been good to them.
These days, many top chefs are opening food trucks instead of brick and mortar restaurants and they aren’t looking back. The decision to go mobile seems to be largely about the money. The cost of opening a food truck is significantly less than starting up a restaurant, and in this economy that’s exactly what today’s entrepreneurs are looking for – small risk with high payoff. According to the Washington Post, it’s difficult to pinpoint exact sales figures for the food truck industry, but the rising number of trucks on the streets is telling.
If reading this has gotten the chef in you thinking about a food truck venture of your own, our observations point to four key ingredients in opening a successful food truck:
1. Concept – first thing’s first, you need an innovative food concept that will work on the street. What’s missing in your neighborhood? What will resonate with people?
2. Brand Identity – branding is key. People don’t want to eat from a dirty old hot dog cart. A tricked-out truck with a strong brand identity is essential.
3. Social Media – for success in the food truck industry, you must become a social media guru. Get on Facebook and Twitter and let your fans know where you are going to be setting up shop. You are mobile after all, and people need to know were to satisfy their cravings.
4. Location – the food truck business is all about location. If you don’t have a good spot, you will be in a world of hurt. Find a good route, scope out spots with hungry pedestrians, or join forces with a group of popular food trucks to draw in the crowds.