Food truck mania now has its own national website where foodies can find their favorite mobile vendors by metropolitan area.
Not surprisingly, Food Truck Locater is a Miami creation, the city where dinner at a bricks and mortar restaurant followed by a movie has been replaced by group bike rides from one food truck location to another.
Food Truck Locater went live with Scottsdale, AZ and Santa Barbara, CA in addition to South Florida. Developed by Artie Ayala, owner of Omni Media Group in Miami and a photographer and web designer, the new site lists food truck roundups.
Ayala took on the project as a food truck fan. His wife works for Food Cart U.S.A., a food truck manufacturer heavily involved in the promoting the fledgling industry.
The food truck manufacturer advertises it ability to build an all-new kitchen on the new truck chassis and then wrap it in a unique brand. It says it will build a food truck that accommodates any local or state health or food safety regulations.
Whether the food truck phenomenon is a fluke of the Great Recession, when would-be restaurateurs cannot get financing for establishments with regular addresses, or if it’s a another sign of our ever-more-mobile society remains to be seen.
At the moment, food trucks are trendy, generating business with Tweets and Facebook updates. The foodies who follow them are not concerned about food safety, especially when many of them are new with stainless steel kitchens turning out gourmet offerings.
In the Mile High City of Denver, where there is almost no place where you cannot get somebody to deliver “breakfast burritos” to your office or home, sometimes aging food carts and trucks have been around for years with 150 mobile food vendor licenses issued.
But it’s been the new upscale food trucks that have recently drawn the attention of local regulators. A “cupcake” truck was making too many stops in the wrong places and regular restaurants are concerned with where the new mobile competition is parking.
“I find it very funny that of all the immigrant vendors, who barely speak English, if at all, manage to follow these “confusing” rules with relative ease, while the Denver Cupcake owners were confused by the fact that there were rules,” commented local resident Patricia Calhoun in the Denver Post (DP). “What did they think? That they were geniuses for coming up with an idea that they would roam the downtown and set up anywhere they thought fit with no regard for other vendors or restaurant owners.”
The Denver City Council last week put together a special committee to work with mobile food vendors on revised rules and regulations. In nearby Boulder, food trucks are not only trendy, but also politically correct. “Great food taken to office parks, where otherwise you’d have to drive, so you’re saving carbon footprints,” Boulder’s Molly Winter told the DP. “It’s a win-win.”
Food trucks are not yet competition with the finest restaurants, but some might be better options than fast food. Two recent to roads of California’s Orange County (OC) are Costa Mesa-based TK Burgers, which put a truck on OC’s roads to supplement its regular restaurant locations, and Go Country 105 (KKGO-FM) going into partnership with B Sweet Catering with “The Chuck Wagon.”
Such offerings can create an attraction. In South Florida ‘s West Kendall community, Friday nights are seeing a vacant lot turned into the Tamiami Truckers Food Court where food trucks called Cheese Me, Latin Burger, and others dispense the offerings to people who bring their own lawn chairs and music. It may be the cheap entertainment that some will remember as they did during the Great Recession. Or not.
Still, it’s best to check Twitter or Facebook, or the new national website, because with food trucks, locations are subject to change.
And regulators may be slow to figure that one out. Take Dupage County, IL, for example. New regulations went into effect there last August. The last requirement is: If changing location of operation with DuPage County, a Mobile Vender Information Form must be completed to update changes.”
Forms? Who needs forms?