Written by Noemi Pollack on July 26, 2009.
Who would have thought that the old lunch truck that traditionally rolled up at construction sites serving mostly greasy fast foods could have evolved into a gourmet fad, adopted by hordes of hungry twitter-addicted truck junkies?
Well, that’s exactly what’s happening across the streets of America. Apparently a soured economy, coupled with a saturated restaurant market and available social media technologies (as in find where your favorite food truck is located, by following its Twitter feed) has triggered a movable feast.
Trucks rolling in cities carrying anything from grass-fed organic beef (Let’s Be Frank); and desserts from former pastry sous chef at famed Manhattan restaurant Le Cirque, www.desserttruck.com; crunchy coating on fried chicken, shrimp or avocado at www.mightycone.com; eco-friendly hamburgers, falafel and fish tacos (Green Truck on the Go); architecturally inspired ice cream sandwiches (Coolhaus); tonkatsu burgers on rice patties (Marked 5); sushi rolls (Fishlips Sushi); vegan sausages (the Franken Stand); to all manner of “fusion” tacos (Kogi BBQ, Calbi BBQ, Bool BBQ, Don Chow Tacos).
Some are chef-inspired, such as San Francisco’s www.spenceronthego.com, serving French cuisine by chef Laurent Katgely, who also owns Chez Spencer, an upscale French restaurant. Others serve upscale bistro food cooked in a converted Airstream trailer such as Seattle’s www.skilletstreetfood.com or Cambridge, Mass.’s cloverfoodlab.com which sells only vegetarian items from a truck fueled by fryer grease.
Innovators like Los Angeles’ www.kogibbq.com have propelled a profusion of truck-borne foods. Whether used only as a marketing ploy – a rolling “billboard” for an existing restaurant such as Border Grill and even corporate behemoths like Taco Bell and Baja Fresh Mexican Grill or for trying to cash in on the trend, or as a cost saving measure (the comparatively low cost of launching a truck as opposed to a restaurant) such as Barbie’s Q, the popularity of nouveau food trucks cannot be ignored when you consider that some truck borne food companies such as www.kogibbq.com now boast 37,000 followers on Twitter.
There is the case of the owner of a crème brulee cart in San Francisco, who according to an article in the New York Times, July 22 headlined, “Creme Brulee Man Becomes Twitter’s Poster Boy,” started out only to sell to friends his particular delectable version of the dessert, when a single “tweet” appeared about it. Now he has 5,400 twittering about where the cart will appear next.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Food trucks may be more than just an emblem of culinary fusion or a clever use of social networking technologies. They may actually herald a significant change in the mobility patterns of young, middle-class urbanites known as “millennials.”
I have always felt that society has a way of righting itself out of need. Here’s one industry that is keying into today’s mobility phenomenon and its resulting changing habits…