Comment of the Day: Can’t You See Where This Is Headed?

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CAN’T YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS HEADED? “At some point, the successful food trucks that provide consistently good food will setup tables and chairs, stake out an “area” in this experiment that is their spot, get so busy they’ll need someone whose only job is to take food orders and handle payment, even bring the food to your table. Eventually, they might even stake out parking just for their customers. OH WAIT, WE ALREADY HAVE THOSE, THEY’RE CALLED RESTAURANTS. This food truck-mania is just getting silly. Now pass me an apple/lemon-strudel cupcake with neon princess sprinkles with 15% of the profit going towards gloves for people displaced by encroaching solar panel farms.” [SL, commenting on Heights Shipping Container Food Court]

16 Comment

  • Yes, eventually if they are good enough they may become restaurants. But food trucks allow entrepreneurs in the restaurant space to test their “idea or model” in a much more cost efficient way. This is no different than what the internet is allowing technology companies to do, start in the garage, test the model, and hopefully one day grow into a traditional (albeit online) business with office space and employees.

  • SL, I suppose you have no idea how much capital is needed to open a restaurant? Not to mention how damn impossible it is for an entreprenuer to attract funding for their concept. I want to second Aron’s post. A mobile food truck is a less expensive way to test and market your product to potential consumers. Whereas a restaurant in a fixed location might have difficulty attracting customers outside of its immediate area, a food truck can go place to place, to different areas of town and present their product to more customers. Plus it could be a chance for people like me to enjoy cuisine that is not easily available in the area where they work and live.

    I work in the north side of Houston. While I love Mexican food, and there is a good Mexican restaurant close to my job, I really wish there was a Vietnamese or Middle Eastern or Greek restaurant within a reasonable driving distance. If a food truck specializing in one of those cuisines was able to sell their food close to my work, and if the food was good, I would be a regular customer.

  • Houston has too little street life for a bunch of reasons, and food trucks mitigate that. No doubt some will evolve into restaurants and others will evolve into catering services. But I like that they are around and hope they remain.

  • When I worked in the ship channel, food trucks gave workers options besides bringing their lunch everyday, since they couldn’t just leave the plant to go get food. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about them becoming permanent fixtures.

  • I can’t think of a single instance in Houston of a food truck turning into a restauarant. Some of the cupcake trucks have a fixed location, but that is more of a necessity because they can’t bake in a truck. In fact, the trend has actually been the opposite. Armando’s, Sylvia’s, Hubcap have all taken their food mobile with food trucks. That is because food trucks fill in a gap that fixed location restaurants cannot fill. They can be at the park when there is a free concert. Who wants to eat the overpriced crud from the concession stand? They can be out at the bars after last call. They can be the perfect quick bite when you don’t have time to sit down and eat and don’t want crappy fast food.

  • Excellent points, but I’m lining up my sights on the whole trendy/hip aspect of it all. Having worked in eateries in my edumacation days, it is tough to make a go of it, but a lot of these food trucks only *seem* to stand out for giving a convenient blue-collar experience to the white collars. Food trucks have been around since horse-drawn wagon days, but I don’t see a crew of roofers wolfing down chipotle duck tacos in gluten-free tortillas with raspberry salsa. Let’s just label this food truck park idea a fad, perhaps jumping the shark, esp since it’s just a few blocks from Washington Ave, and patiently wait for sous vide cuisine that arrives at a price on parity with airfare to Dallas.

    Old School – 100% Taquito went from stand to ‘straunt

    Now give me a goat cheese lasagna hot pocket or give me death!

  • 100% Taquito on the SW Freeway started off as a food truck project by a UH business student.

  • El Norteno, which operates three (I think) blue taco trucks, recently opened a restaurant on Long Point near Gessner, just a block from one of their taco trucks.

  • Franklin BBQ in Austin started as a truck, now if you don’t get to the restaurant by 11:30, you probably won’t get to eat.

  • The “food court” concept is quite popular in Asia. An area covered in picnic tables and plants etc is surrounded by trailers which are all different “kitchens”. It works very well and gives a lot of options in one nice place. Also interestingly they all seem to serve the exact same food and are all crowded. At least our Houston version will have some variety.

  • SL, I think what you’re trying to say is that you find it pretentious for people to:

    (1) act blue-collar by running a food truck, but then blow their act by:
    (2a) serving goat-cheese hot pockets from said truck, and
    (2b) demonstrating that they obviously wanted to open a white-collar restaurant all along by making the food truck static.

    I think “acting blue collar” is not one of the motivations for operating a food truck, except perhaps in an ironic sense.

    I think the food truck movement has legs, because it’s one of those (many) areas where the rest of the world has been generations ahead of the USA. People like street food, hipsters like hipster street food, and the overhead for a food truck is a small fraction of that for a restaurant.

    Plus it’s mobile, so you can take catering jobs, and when you get tired of making GCHPs, you can reconfigure to make MKFBs, or CCWAFs.

    Hipsters don’t typically have long attention spans.

  • 100% Taquito does not come from the current line of food trucks that you are railing against. 100% Taquito has been around for over a decade. They began by emulating Mexican street food with a taco stand at UH and moved indoors when it was a success. A far cry from the foodie inspired food trucks of today. Food trucks are not a passing fad because they really do fill a real need. They provide good mobile food that is consistently better and cheaper than what turns up in tents at events or what a caterer brings. The novelty of the food truck has long since worn off. People don’t line up at the food trucks at the farmer’s market every week because they want to eat from a truck. They line up because they are hungry and want something good to eat.

  • That’s pretty clever – getting a bunch of yuppies and trendies to think it’s cool to eat off a roach coach…

  • markd, unlike almost every restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, when I’ve bought food from food trucks, I’ve been able to see into the kitchen. They have to obey the same cleanliness regulations as restaurants AND you can see at least part of the kitchen when you order food. So which institution is likelier to be cleaner–a truck or a fixed restaurant? I’m sure Houston’s restauranteurs appreciate you spreading the term “roach coach,” though.

  • Yea, it’s still a roach coach.
    This fad will pass, along with the fedoras and single gear bicycles.

  • so what if it’s a passing fad? i don’t see anything wrong with that. if/when the food truck era passes, we won’t be left behind with a bunch of crappy ass buildings that no one knows what to do with. if we don’t like their food or their business, we can just wheel ’em away. wish i could do that to a few mcdonald/king/fil-a/aburgers round here…