Gourmet Goodness on Wheels
Alaskan reindeer hot dogs and grass-fed beef tongue tacos are as unique as the food trucks serving them. Today’s market is about high-brow food at low-brow prices. And that concept hits close to home in the automotive aftermarket.
Food trucks have changed drastically since their humble cart-like beginnings. Charles Goodnight renovated army surplus wagons in the late 1860’s and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile debuted in 1936. They both paved the way for colorful variations seen on the roads today. This food vending style has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. But the modern day foodie revolution can trace its roots back about a decade to L.A. and the Kogi BBQ Taco Truck. The trendy movement is linked to the following:
- Creative gourmet goodies at relatively low costs
- Ease of mobility in government regulated, flashy logo-branded vehicles
- Nearly exclusive reliance on social media hype for success—something we all should be maximizing to further our marketing initiatives.
Vehicle Options for Food Truck Conversion
The vehicle options are as varied as the food choices themselves; owners just require a little ingenuity. Many newcomers in today’s food truck industry opt to buy pre-owned. And many times those vehicles weren’t used for commercial food purposes. Remember Tim Jenks’ 1969 Chevy P10 van build? Ice cream, concession and former food trucks are viable options because the framework is already present, including necessities like cut-out service windows and access doors. Other popular choices include former delivery trucks (UPS, FedEx, etc.), retrofitted school buses, catering vans, motor homes and even campers.
Owning a former school bus or delivery-truck-turned-mobile-food-unit can certainly add to one’s brand. But the labor and expertise involved in converting old seating or storage space into an area for usable and safe food prep leads many entrepreneurs down an expensive and timely custom-build route.
Aftermarket Potential is Plentiful
These trucks must be strong as a ox and able support expensive commercial food-service equipment with equally expensive aftermarket items.
- Back-up generators, fire extinguishers and other safety equipment
- Fresh water, waste water and propane tanks
- Locking cabinets and awnings
- PA systems, speakers or flat-screen TVs for calling out orders and playing music or advertisements
One thing is for certain, whether the truck in question is a renovated vintage Canned Ham bought for $2,500 on eBay or an $95,000 custom built step van dripping in stainless steel and offering everything from motorized awnings to under glow lighting—branding is everything. No matter how fancy the equipment or how revolutionary the menu, the truck’s exterior is what grabs the public’s attention. Wraps, decals and original artwork catch the eye and turn these “old roach coaches” into mobile masterpieces.
And if that fails? Twitter. With more people looking down at their phones than taking in the sights around them, it’s actually quite possible one could miss a bright red 1966 Leyland double-decker bus selling bacon and brie sandwiches.