Redefining Direct-to-Consumer: How Food Trucks Find You
While food trucks may no longer be a “novelty” in the food community, they remain a viable and cost-effective way for chefs to get fresh new concepts to consumers. Many entrepreneurs are still taking advantage of their portability and low startup costs in order to break into the food industry.
One of these entrepreneurs is Bryan Scott of Doggie Mac’s.
Scott, also known as ‘Chef B’, just entered the food truck business this year.
“I always wanted to open one since I saw the first one,” Scott said.
After about 15 years of waiting, he finally has his own truck and has made around eight stops so far. While Scott had familiarity with both trucks and kitchens before starting out, the challenge came in combining the two.
“You’re rolling around your kitchen on a truck, things shift, things move, things break, things freeze. Just about everything has happened to me,” he said.
But according to Scott, the disadvantages and advantages for food trucks are two sides of the same coin.
“It’s mobile, it is a truck. If it’s slow here or not happening, I can drive somewhere else or I can have a completely different location/zip code tomorrow,” he said.
Another advantage, Scott says, is that he does not have to hire as many employees to help run his truck as he would to run a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
In addition to the mobility and decreased demand for staff, Tony Lee of Blues Fired Pizza points out that starting up a food truck is far less expensive than starting up a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“This truck took $25,000 to get up and running, which, you know, a regular restaurant you’re talking a couple hundred thousand. That’s the big advantage,” Lee pointed out.
Blues Fired Pizza has been up and running for around five years, with multiple trucks and a small restaurant. Beyond the necessary food, employees, and truck itself, food trucks must also obtain licenses from the health department. Blues Fired Pizza has four which correspond to four different areas around St. Louis, Missouri’s city and county. They also undergo inspections.
“Every single truck has a commissary. It’s actually a certified restaurant by the health department,” Lee added.
The commissary is where each truck will be cleaned out after service and stocked up before service. According to Lee, the trucks receive the same inspection as a regular restaurant, only more frequently.
When it comes to challenges for food trucks, Lee says they can often be more difficult to staff.
“It’s a little harder for a food truck because our shifts are short. It’s hard to find people to work,” he noted.
He says it is also important that the employees show up on time, especially since the shifts are shortened.
Though the food truck concept is still relatively newer, what is inside Blues Fired Pizza’s food truck is definitely not. The food provider uses a wood-fire brick oven which reaches a temperature of around 800°F.
“This is the oldest oven in mankind. It’s been around for about 10,000 years,” Lee says.
This allows them to cook their pizzas in about two-and-a-half minutes when the oven is up to temp.
With new players entering the industry each year, and efforts on the horizon to use food trucks as portable food pantries, food trucks may no longer be a novelty, but they are most definitely still a nucleus of new concepts and innovation.
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