The food truck movement has been picking up momentum over recent years and has seen a revenue increase of 12.4% over the past five years. In fact, food trucks have grown into a £1.2 billion industry according to StatisticBrain. However, while consumers are ecstatic about the unique eats we can get their hands on, many restaurant owners are anything but.
In February 2014 Meshe Armstrong, co-owner of Restaurant Eve in Virginia, penned a letter to the editor of the Alexandria Times hitting on many of the key issues brick-and-mortar restaurant owners have with food trucks today. The excerpt below does a nice job of summing up the way many restaurant owners around the country feel:
“Who will regulate the unscrupulous? Who will prevent a coffee truck in front of a coffee house? Will a bakery truck be justified to park in front of my bakery? I sweep the street, plant the flowers, pay litter taxes and then someone who buys a cupcake from a truck can throw their wrapper in my litter box and proceed to use my bathroom. Will the city then abate some tax or provide community toilets? Will the city need to employ more health department inspectors on my tax dime to ensure proper inspections? Will I be able to speak at a hearing so I know their parking intentions as restaurants must? Are you going to forget about the mom and pop who put down roots in Alexandria before food truck fever struck?”
Personally, we feel the food truck movement is a chance for brick-and-mortar establishments to grow.
Here are a few ways we believe brick-and-mortar restaurants can work alongside food trucks:
1. Buy your own truck
If you can’t beat them, join them. 19% of restaurants say they are likely to launch a food truck in the coming years, according to the National Restaurant Association. With the likes of Wahaca, Byron and Jamie Oliver already on the case, we’re expecting to see new and exciting popups coming to London soon.
2. Collaborate on a signature dish
This is a two-way street. If you’re known for your mac and cheese, partner with a local truck to have them offer your dish as a special. Alternatively, if the truck has a signature dish that might compliment your offerings, see if they would be interested in having you serve it. Remember – collaboration is key!
3. Ticketed dining experience
For most street food traders, social media is a vital part of their success. Their ability to broadcast their location to a band of loyal followers keeps them afloat as they move around the country. Why not partner with a popular trader and co-host a ticketed dinner? You get to take advantage of their social presence, make new industry contacts and pull diners in that may not have even been aware of your restaurant.
4. Host a chef swap competition
Why not consider partnering up with a food truck and hosting a chef-swap. Invite them to your venue and cook a ‘guest special’, and in turn, have one of your chefs visit their truck and put a spin on the menu. Invite multiple trucks if you really want to pull in a crowd.
5. Create your own Street Food Lunch Menu
Creativity is crucial for many food trucks. After all, it’s the novelty of trying something unique at an affordable price that makes street food so successful. It certainly works for Wahaca.