My first experience with a food truck, or “roach coach” as it was affectionately known, was as a high schooler working a summer job at a junkyard in Richmond, Va. At precisely 10:30 every morning, the break whistle would sound and we’d head to the food truck waiting at the entrance with the latest in in prepackaged sandwiches, chips, and snacks. It was by no means a culinary treat, but it was a welcome break in the day. Fast forward 25 years and food trucks have progressed from that pickup with insulated diamond-pattern doors covering a refrigerator case to the most interesting-looking fully-functional kitchens on wheels, serving the most diverse food available.
Food trucks are even showing up now the big and small screens. The Great Food Truck Race is a reality television series on the Food Network featuring competing food trucks. The competitors are teams of talented cooks who have dreamed up unique food concepts and want to turn their dreams into a reality, which is to operate a food truck business. (Season four begins August 18.)
On the ABC TV show Happy Endings (which, sadly, was cancelled, but that is for another blog) after Dave Rose was left at the altar by his fiancée, he followed his dreams of quitting his office job and became self-employed with his own food truck business: Steak Me Home Tonight.
Want proof food trucks have really arrived? They have their own association. The DC Food Trucks Association (DCFTA) is a group of nearly 50 Washington, D.C., food truck owner-operators who seek to sustain the wellbeing of our industry, foster a sense of community, and work in partnership with the District of Columbia to improve food truck regulations.
Food trucks have come a long way, but have they come too far too fast? The prevalence of food trucks is forcing parking departments to find unique ways to balance the needs of restaurants, citizens, and entrepreneurs in what many have deemed the downtown food truck wars. For many, it’s a big challenge.
You read about how different cities are facing the food truck challenge in The Parking Professional’s May cover story. Today, IPI is hosting a webinar to further explore the Food Truck Wars. Brandy Stanley, MBA, parking services manager, City of Las Vegas; Gary Means, CAPP, executive director, Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority; and Mike Estey, parking operations & traffic manager, City of Seattle, will show you what these cities are doing to tackle the challenges that food trucks pose. Register here to see and take away examples of ordinances, pilot programs, and next steps in this battle.
Food trucks don’t just mean Lance crackers and automat-style tuna sandwiches anymore. But what does mobile gourmet mean for your parking operation? I hope you’ll join us today for a great conversation on just that.