Advice From Real Food Truck Owners

When owning and running a food trailer business, it’s important to get advice from those who have been in the business longer than you…….  Hope you enjoy the read below!

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All-Star Advice From Real Food Truck Owners

FoodTruckr

“In the recent past, we interviewed real life food truck owners who were battling it out in the mobile kitchen industry.

Each food truck had its own unique story — which tends to be the case for any food truck owner in this wonderful industry — and each owner unleashed some invaluable advice for prospective, new and current mobile kitchen owners.

……….. today we will take a look back at some of the interviews we conducted with these food truck owners. Therefore, we gathered some of the advice that was featured in previous articles, and we will be unleashing the advice below.

If you are new to the food truck industry, are thinking about joining or are currently trying to survive and thrive, then it would be wise to take the advice to heart. After all, said advice is from real owners who have actually experienced what this industry has to offer.

John Maxwell Of Ragin’ Cajun Food Truck
“When you run a restaurant, it’s pretty much just seven days a week. Food trucks, during the season, it’s six days a week.”

“You’ve got to love this business. If it’s just a job to you, if you’re just getting into it just to make money, you’re in the wrong business… Granted, you can make a living at it, but if you don’t truly love it, if it doesn’t move your soul, don’t do it.”

Julie Byers Of A Picnic Place
“Do your homework about laws, restrictions, fees, etc. in your area. Make sure you have AT LEAST one year’s worth of salary in savings (or another source of income) to support yourself while you get going. It takes a while to become profitable. Work HARD — this is not an easy venture. Have FUN — when your truck is rockin’, there is nothing more fun!”

Victor Omar D’Angelo Of Barroluco Argentine Comfort Food
“I think that the difficult part is to keep the quality. The quality is the most important. The second one, in my case, is I work 24/7. I don’t stop. I’ve been looking for people to train, and it is a little difficult to find people sometimes. Now, at the moment, I have so many friends that are helping me, supporting me.”

Advice Victor Omar D’Angelo would give to future food truck owners: “I would say to have good capital and a massive marketing plan strategy.””

For more of this article, follow the link above.

Keeping it in the Family

A lovely news item about family doing it together……….  We found this article at The Lincoln County News

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Mother-Daughter Duo Opens Food Trailer in Newcastle
July 19, 2017 at 8:52 am
Maia Zewert

A mother and daughter have teamed up to open a food trailer offering a variety of sandwiches and desserts at 928 Route 1 in Newcastle, next to the Sherman Marsh rest area.

Newcastle residents Carol Heaberlin and her daughter, Mindy Jones, co-own Y-Knot, which opened for business Tuesday, July 18. Heaberlin brings years of experience at eateries and delis along the East Coast, including the former Seymour’s Subs and Cash and Carry convenience store in Boothbay Harbor.

The duo had been discussing the idea of starting a business together for a while, when Heaberlin’s son, Nick Heaberlin, discovered the Rotary Club of Westbrook-Gorham had a trailer for sale.

“We thought it was perfect for what we wanted to do and went with it,” Jones said.

After purchasing the trailer in April, Heaberlin, Jones, and their families began an “extensive” renovation project, essentially gutting the trailer to its shell before installing new appliances, Jones said. The exterior of the trailer received a fresh coat of paint.

Heaberlin and Jones then needed to locate a home for the trailer. Heaberlin’s husband, Rick Heaberlin, approached Pauline Steele about her property along Route 1. The lot was most recently home to All the Comforts and First Class Florals, but a fire badly damaged the building in 2013 and it was later demolished. The lot has also been home to an ice cream shop and a nautical shop.

As “one of Newcastle’s kindest residents,” Steele was thrilled to rent the space to the women, Jones said.

The sandwich menu features customer favorites from Heaberlin’s days at Seymour’s Subs that have been renamed to fit the new business. Sandwiches include the Seahorse, made with tuna, sprouts, avocados, and Swiss cheese; the Farmers Knot, which consists of chicken salad, bacon, provolone cheese, and Y-Knot’s red relish; and the Y-Knot Dagwood, an improved version of the sandwich from Seymour’s Subs, Heaberlin said.

Heaberlin enjoys creating new sandwiches and dishes, and the food truck will feature a rotating menu of specials. She’s currently working on a mustard-based, sweet-and-spicy coleslaw she plans to pair with roast beef and barbecue chicken and beef, she said.

Jones primarily handles the customer service side of the business and develops desserts. One of her creations is the Sweet Little Piggy, a sundae that combines vanilla ice cream with maple syrup and bacon bits.

The Big Foot Sundae, another Jones original, includes a brownie, a chocolate chip cookie, hot fudge, crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups, and the customer’s choice of ice cream. The sundae is topped with Y-Knot sauce of Jones’ own invention, whipped cream, and sugar cone crumbles.

Other items on the menu pay homage to family members. The Knotty Lobster, which includes Texas toast, lobster, and Y-Knot’s seafood stuffing, is a recipe from Heaberlin’s father-in-law, while the Ricky Float, consisting of sparkling lemonade and vanilla ice cream, is named for Jones’ son, Rick-Wyatt.”

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To read the rest of the article, please click the link above

The New Life of Street Food

Street Food

When I was in Italy, last summer, I was intrigued by the growing popularity of what now Italians call “street food,” using the English language expression to indicate, well… street food. Cibo di strada, in Italian. Street food is definitely not a novelty. The dwellers of ancient Roman cities, for instance, were able to eat out of their home: they could patronize taverns or buy ready-made snacks and meals to go from all kinds of roadside stalls. As kitchens were absent in most buildings where the lower classes lived, acquiring cooked food was a necessity. Such customs thrived for centuries, reflecting changes in times, political dynamics, and cultural environments. I remember, growing up as a child in Rome, to see people frying what in the US are known as zeppole in big oil vats on the street. To this day, it is not uncommon to see kiosks selling porchetta, delicious pork roasted with herb and spices, sliced, and served in crunchy bread rolls. In summer, watermelon sellers hawk their goods on the city curbs, a Godsend in the hot Roman nights.

Side by side with these more traditional expressions, street food has found a new life in Italy. Entrepreneurs and creative chefs provide affordable and stimulating dishes that are inspired by the old ones, but often try to elevate them to respond to the preferences of their clientele. Their customers tend to be young and of the “foodie” conviction, always looking for affordable but intriguing flavor combinations that maintain some connection with the past, while using good, local ingredients. Healthier, safer production environments also increase the attractiveness of these new offerings. In fact, in Italy these days, street food – from takeaway pizza to fried rice arancini – is mostly sold not from stalls but out of small stores that enjoy a closer relationship to the street than regular restaurants. These eateries often have few seats available, forcing patrons to eat standing or to take away food. Some of the most interesting food in the Italy is now sold under this label. Gambero Rosso, one of the best known food and wine magazines in the country, has started publishing a Street Food guidebook, while websites such as Via dei Gourmet use street food as a distinct category, knowing that its users know precisely what they refer to.

The gentrification of street food, while overall embraced as a positive evolution of the Italian culinary landscape, risks pushing aside food providers that are not able to speak the same language as the popular upstarts or are not willing to change their product and their sale methods to attract the clientele who are ready to buy the new “street food”, with more originality, better quality, and possibly at higher prices. Such trends are also visible in the American landscape. Food trucks are enjoying growing success, as chefs and entrepreneurs consider them as viable alternative to brick and mortar restaurants, especially in cities where real estate costs are prohibitive. The food they offer is exciting, and they reflect the aesthetics and the communication modes of their clientele. It is not uncommon for food trucks to announce their locations on social media, and for their followers to look for them, wherever they are. The more traditional street vendors, those selling coffee and hot dogs, or the peddlers bringing fruits and vegetables of the curbs of disadvantaged neighborhoods, outside of the more glamorous background of the farmers’ markets, are often ostracized and treated quite differently, including by the local authorities and the police. As I have discussed in a previous post, the Street Vendor Project has been raising funds and working with underprivileged sellers and hawker to represent them in policy and administrative discussion.

We will discuss these changes and tensions at the New School, in a discussion panel on the history of street food in New York City. Street food has historically played a crucial role in the way New Yorkers produce, buy, and consume food. From carts bringing produce from nearby farms to immigrant vendors providing traditional foods to their community, and later to the city at large, food has always been present on the streets. The panel will explore the past and present of street food in NYC, looking at culinary elements, culture, and the evolution of policy regulating the way New Yorkers were allowed to sell and access food in public spaces.

Imbuzi Cafe - Food Vending Trailer

Street Food – Source – Huffington Post

Tips For Preventing Food Truck Failure

Success - Tips for succeeding in your food trailer business

The number of food trucks has been growing exponentially since 2008, yet some food trucks still haven’t been able to succeed. Here are ten reasons why some food trucks don’t survive and tips you can use to avoid these shortfalls.

Brohemian Pizza Oven Trailer - Kitchen Food Trailers

DEVELOP AN IDENTITY AND STICK TO IT

A food truck’s success depends on its ability to establish a brand and stick to it, so develop an identity and focus on perfecting it. If your food truck doesn’t differentiate itself from the competition, consumer acceptance of your truck’s concept is bound to wane quickly. Simple, cookie-cutter imitation of an existing concept doesn’t have staying power, and most imitations are bound to fail quickly.

Bringing every customer in your area up to your service window is impossible, so don’t spend too much time trying to. Establish your target market, and then create the style of food and environment that’s suitable for that market. After you create your identity, make sure it’s reflected in your menu.

Creating an overreaching menu is one of the most common mistakes a food truck can make. A menu with too much selection tries to do a lot while accomplishing very little. This tactic often sacrifices overall food quality. Instead, keep your menu simple with no more than four to six items and, ideally, variations on the same thing. Doing so makes your concept identifiable and brand-friendly.

ANALYZE YOUR MARKET CAREFULLY

Failure to establish that a market for your food truck cuisine exists and failing to stay aware of trends in your local market are two of the biggest mistakes you can make as a food truck operator. These errors can easily be avoided.

Before opening your business, you need to establish a demand for your cuisine and an ability to capture some market share. After you’ve opened your service window, you should continue to analyze the direction of consumer demand and make any changes or adjustments as needed. Without this fact-based knowledge of your market, making these informed business changes is near impossible.

WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

A business plan is your written guide of what you want your mobile restaurant to be and how you plan to achieve this goal. It forces you to plan ahead, think about the competition, formulate a marketing strategy, define your management structure, and plan your financing, among other things. It becomes your road map to success.

Don’t proceed without a solid business plan. Not putting a business plan together doesn’t mean that your food truck will fail, but it does mean you’ll do the following:

  • Spend more money

  • Reach fewer of the right customers

  • Be less efficient

  • Grow your business more slowly, if at all

PLAN FOR A YEAR’S WORTH OF CAPITAL

The mobile food industry is known to have low entry and exit points compared to the restaurant industry. Thus, most food truck owners try to enter the industry with low capital. As a result, most enter this industry with just enough funding to open the service window but not enough to sustain them in the first few lean months.

Unexpected and unforeseen events happen all the time, especially in a food truck business.

A good goal to set for yourself is to allocate enough capital to keep your business afloat for at least 12 months while you establish yourself in the market.

HIRE AND TRAIN WISELY

Bad service will kill your business quickly — it’s just that simple. Your food truck has a finite amount of goodwill, and bad staff will use it up all too quickly. Employees are the representatives of your business. Put a substantial amount of time and effort into the hiring process and don’t settle for individuals who are less than extraordinary.

Most food truck owners lack formalized training in procedural and operational processes. If you fit into this category, take the time to learn from an experienced owner or hire a consultant for expert advice.

HAVE A GRAND OPENING

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” was never truer than in the mobile food industry business.

Hosting a grand opening event is a chance to immediately establish your truck as a member in the local community. Rather than opening your service window and waiting for your guests to arrive, create an event that will lead first-time guests to become your regular customers. Some of the mistakes to sidestep in planning a food truck grand opening are easy to avoid:

  • Prepare for a crowd.

  • Expect the unexpected.

  • Time your event carefully.

ENSURE CONSISTENCY

After you’ve created an identity for your food truck, it’s important that you consistently preserve that identity. Every time a customer walks up to your service window, he should experience the same food quality and service. It shouldn’t matter which chef is working the kitchen on any given day.

Consistency is the key to establishing a regular customer base. Managing a customer’s expectations is an essential part of running your food truck, and consistently providing the same quality product ultimately can determine its success or failure.

Your kitchen staff can’t maintain consistency without formal recipes. Developing them is critical to controlling costs, curtailing waste, and providing effective staff training.

CONTROL YOUR FOOD COSTS

Outside of the initial capital required to purchase your truck, the cost of food is a mobile bistro’s single biggest expense. The ability to manage food costs is one of the most important elements of running a successful food truck.

Successful food truck owners set the price of a product as a direct relationship to the cost of making that product. Keeping track of how inventory is ordered and minimizing costs so all food that’s purchased ends up in a customer’s hands can drastically improve your bottom line and provide valuable flexibility in determining your pricing.

SOLICIT OPINIONS OTHER THAN YOUR OWN

A shrewd business owner knows it’s all about the customer, not your personal tastes and opinions. You must be open to opinions other than your own.

Strive to maintain a healthy obsession with product and service quality. You must keep a pulse on what your customers like and dislike about your menu and staff. Ask your customers for their complaints or even be so bold as to ask how you can become their favorite food truck.

BE A PRESENT LEADER

Don’t be an absentee owner. If you want to own a food truck, you must expect to work in it. The only way to maintain familiarity with your business is to spend a significant amount of time there, both physically and mentally.

Don’t confuse physical presence with micromanagement. Work hard and set an example. If you display dedication and commitment, you may inspire your team to show you the same level of commitment.

Preventing Food Truck Failure – Source – Dummies.com

Food Truck Drives Social Change By Giving Jobs To Former Inmates

Food Truck Jobs - Driving Social Change

Here is a recipe for success.

Drive Change is a nonprofit that hires formerly incarcerated youth to operate a New York City-based food truck.

“We hire, teach and empower young people who are coming home from the criminal justice system,” Jordyn Lexton, founder of Drive Change, told Pix 11.

The award-winning food truck, called Snowday, which is known for its salty/sweet grilled cheese sandwiches drizzled with maple syrup, serves farm-fresh food made from scratch — and gives fresh starts to young people with rough pasts.

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“A felony conviction is like the ultimate black eye,” Roy Waterman, director of engagement at Drive Change, told Pix 11. “No matter how many years pass by it’s always on your record.”

Drive Change offers year-long, paid fellowships to people ages 17 to 25, which occur in three phases.

In the first phase – during which fellows make $9 an hour – is an orientation process. Fellows obtain their food handler and safety licenses and mobile vendor licenses, and are trained by Drive Change’s coaches.

Once they are fully trained and certified, fellows get a pay bump to $11 an hour, while they learn how to master all of the food truck jobs — cashier, head chef, customer service attendant and manager. They do this while also attending professional courses for social media, marketing, money management and small business development.

For the final phase, fellows work for four months at another job, typically a restaurant, while continuing their courses. During this final four-month phase, Drive Change continues to pay their wages while they work in a different setting.

And fellows have moved on to better opportunities. Lexton told The Huffington Post that a fellow named Frederick Coleman is now a line cook at Reynard restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Other fellows are currently working at catering companies, while another scored a job at Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Lexton, who prefers the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “their,” is a former teacher who taught English to teens between the ages of 16 and 18 at Rikers Island jail in New York. While there, Lexton started to notice that some of their students, who had been released, were returning to jail again and again.

“I witnessed a system that did not do much to help young people rehabilitate,” Lexton told the AP. “One of the few places in the jail where my students were really happy was in the culinary arts class, with the power of teamwork, camaraderie and a shared meal.”

In 2012, Lexton quit their job and started Drive Change.

The food truck workers are encouraged to talk to customers about the program, hoping the conversations will help create social change.

“We’re transparent about what we’re doing,” Lexton told Pix 11. “We believe that by having this really positive interaction at our truck, we might actually help to dispel some of the preconceived notions that people have about what is means to be formerly incarcerated.”

Source – Huffington Post

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