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Do You / Would You Eat From A Food Truck???


Mr Cue
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As a lot of you know, I'm now in the mobile food business, it's a part time deal that my business partner and I would like to grow into our full time source of income. Most of our patronage is from family, co-workers, and friends; we've yet to really capture a decent portion of the general public's attention. So I ask the question above: Do you or would you eat from a food truck? What are some things that attract and drive you away from the experience? What is important to you in your on the go dining experience and what would you like to see on a menu?

 

We are currently doing a simple menu; diner style burgers, chili-dogs, Italian sausages, and loaded nachos/fries. The sausages and dogs are out as they are notorious under performers, it's hard for them to compete against our burgers and BBQ. Some other ideas I've been playing with are a fish/chicken strip basket with slaw and fries, a fried pork chop with country gravy & mashed potatoes, and cheesesteak sandwiches to name a few. We have two 40lb gas deep fryers and a 24" gas flattop as well as a large fridge and freezer to work with. What would appeal to you and make you pass up a Burger King or similar chain? 

 

This is the nacho and the burger, the burger is $8 and comes with fries and a water. The nacho is $7 and comes with a water. Our burger is 1/2 lb and the total weight of the loaded nacho is 10 oz, lots of value IMO. 

 

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Whomever would pick a chain over what you're serving up needs serious help.   I've tried avoiding chains for quite a several years now and don't miss them at all.   Nachos look great.   I'm retired so don't frequent trucks as much as I used to but Portland has a thriving cart venue we frequent whenever possible.   I mostly stay home and try and dazzle myself with BBQ.

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What's unique?  What makes it different to the burger I can get down the road (and that burger in your pic does look awesome)!

Can I eat it with one hand, or are you parked near somewhere I can sit?

 

We have a thriving food truck business in Melbourne, and they typically get a reputation for having something 'unique'.  It then becomes word of mouth.

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I eat at food trucks whenever I get a chance (unfortunately not very often). I only order unique food I can't normally get somewhere else. I would never order a burger or nachos. I think it's important for food trucks to have their standard menu (exp - burgers and nachos) but I also think they should have a special of the day that is something unique that other trucks next to them don't have, something to pull me into that truck. Cost is never really a factor in my mind. 

 

 

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We have food truck rally's every day on the arsenal. A lot of us frequent the rally as well as downtown when they are out on the weekends. Absolutely love them and their unique twist on foods.


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Did I hear Chili Dawg?  :)

 

I like the fare that food trucks serve up.  I find it more innovative and tastier than that served in many traditional restaurants.

 

Never forget that Aaron Franklin got his start out of a food truck serving great brisket!

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Food trucks are not common in my area. I've seen a couple of trailers and a truck or two pop up occasionally over the past few years.  There were some catering to oil and gas service companies a couple of years ago, but just as they were getting established the downturn struck. Doesn't seem to go over very well here as I don't ever see much customer traffic when driving by one of these venues.  Weather is a significant factor for a good part of the year and I don't think I have seen any even bother to attempt it much until spring / summer, but even then the wind exceeds nuisance level most days and is usually at unpleasant or intolerable speeds not conducive to outdoor eating.  I think even a spectacular truck would struggle here.  So I guess what I am saying is, the food truck culture in your area probably makes a big difference.

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There are two types of food trucks I can think of   Those that park in the same place year round and are basicly a mobile takeout restaurant. At that point you need to do the things to attract repeat customers. Is your best attribute price? Quality? Food options? What keeps you going back to a restaurant? 

 

The other type would be what what you see at a fairground. Then it is all flash and profit because you will not get repeat customers. 

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I do eat at food trucks and view them similarly to a brick and mortar restaurant. Around here, some of the best tacos are found at trucks. I'd have to say the number one deterrent for me eating at them regularly is the seating situation. I have two very young kids and trying to feed them in a parking lot with a lot of traffic is unnerving. This is probably a small percentage of your clientele. I'm sure we will go to more trucks when my boys are older. 

 

I am am going to second what ckreef said. When I am traveling, I typically look for foods that are more innovative or difficult to get in traditional restaurants. 

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8 minutes ago, Mewantkj said:

There are two types of food trucks I can think of   Those that park in the same place year round and are basicly a mobile takeout restaurant. At that point you need to do the things to attract repeat customers. Is your best attribute price? Quality? Food options? What keeps you going back to a restaurant? 

 

The other type would be what what you see at a fairground. Then it is all flash and profit because you will not get repeat customers. 

And if you are type 1, you need to be able to convince people that you are not type 2. I don't really know how you do that. Maybe a professional looking sign with a printed schedule? Chalkboards and Facebook posts still probably seem too 'temporary'.

 

I think that's why a lot of people choose a fast food chain over food trucks. To many people, food trucks have a 'fly by night' feel to them. The 'pro' of being mobile gets misread as a 'con' when people are making their decision between a food cart and a fast food chain. Kind of like, "If someone spent money on bricks, they probably aren't going anywhere soon. They have to put some kind of care in to make sure they can open the doors tomorrow. That truck over there spent their money on wheels so you KNOW they are leaving. No reason to hand out good food at a good price if no one will see your face again."

 

Not saying I think that way, just saying that that attitude is out there. You won't get those people so you have to cut your losses and sway the fence-sitters.

 

5 hours ago, ckreef said:

I eat at food trucks whenever I get a chance (unfortunately not very often). I only order unique food I can't normally get somewhere else. I would never order a burger or nachos. I think it's important for food trucks to have their standard menu (exp - burgers and nachos) but I also think they should have a special of the day that is something unique that other trucks next to them don't have, something to pull me into that truck. Cost is never really a factor in my mind. 

I agree with all of this. The joke in my family is that, no matter where we go to eat, my wife's daughters say I pick 'the weirdest thing on the menu'.

 

Unique foods would drive me to your truck and a daily special and new items would keep me coming back (assuming I liked the first thing ;)). 

 

Your burger looks great, but unless there is little other choice, I'm not ordering a burger. And if I did order a burger, no matter how good it was, it's highly unlikely that I would make a return trip for a burger. That's just me.

 

My wife, on the other hand, would get the burger every time. Her daughters would go for the chicken strip basket every time. So I agree that those items should be on a regular menu.

 

The - having a place to sit and eat - issue is probably the hardest to overcome. I don't live in an area where food trucks are conveniently located, best case I can get to some with about a 10 minute drive from work. None have anywhere to sit. So, it's either I eat in my car or I drive the food back to work to eat.

 

I tried the food carts in Portland a few times and had the same issue. I didn't have an office to walk to, so I ate on a trash can, the hood of my car, a window sill, in the car, etc. Ultimately, I decided that on return trips, it's just not worth the hassle to go to the carts - as good, and varied, as the food is. Most going there probably just walk back to their office, though.

 

 

 

 

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Around here we even celebrate food trucks with different events.  Upcoming is Tunes, Trucks and Tastes where 8 wineries bring in a food truck and a band to their tasting room.  Then we food truck addicted suckers pay to attend the event, then pay the food truck folks for the food.  And have a great time doing it.

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i don't generally go out for lunch, but when I do I sometimes go to Fred's Franks. He is generally located conveniently just off the exit on I95 and about a mile north of I93.  Easy to get to from 2 major highways. He parks next to a lake. Nice view. There is parking nearby for the park, and some benches. He updates his website daily to let you know if he is open. (Up here in MA it wouldn't be logical for him to open on most days in mid winter, but sometimes we catch a break and he opens).

this guy attracts a crowd. Check out his website. For the most part he keeps it simple. His signature Item is a shrnuble...or something like that. 

This guy has great location and quality, but pretty simple menu. If you can't get a great location like that a signature item or style may be what you need.

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Awesome responses! We do have a bit of an identity crisis. My business partner wants to do the unique and flashy fair stuff and I'm more into mainstays that you'd find at your regular stop. We typically sell as many nachos as burgers, usually 50 of each on a Friday. Hand dipped corn dogs just for added and we are improving our process there. We've also got funnel cake equipment that we are getting familiar with. I'm going to take some of these ideas back to my partner and let him chew on them. 

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