Mobile Food (a new meaning for food on the go)

by Gavan on June 28, 2009

The infamous Kogi BBQ
The infamous Kogi BBQ

“Food on the Go” has its meanings. It used to mean, well still does, a fast food drive through. Grab a greasy quickie (still talking food here peeps) and eat it while you drive from point A to point B. A hot dog stand comes to mind for New Yorkers. Eat and walk. My version usually means a bag of almonds and a protein drink, but then we all know I’m not your typical guy.

You may have noticed there’s a new kid in town which is taking cities across the nation by storm: the Food Truck–and it’s a booming business. Haven’t heard of them? Let me think of the best way to describe them…Ever pass by a construction site and see the taco trucks serving up lunch? (States side anyway.) You may know them as “roach coaches”, not quite renowned for having the best quality food but more of a cheap ‘n’ cheerful street food. Well these new Food Trucks are basically pimped out glorified roach coaches. It’s true these taco trucks aren’t a new idea though this latest crop of mobile food trucks have taken the concept to a whole new level, offering quality ingredients and a large variety of cuisines. Here in LA (on Abbot Kinney alone) there are sometimes 4 different ones catering to the shop owners, shoppers and even the late night bar clientele. The range and variety of food is super ranging form Korean tacos (Kogi) to Barbie’s Q (down-home bbq) to organic meals (Greentruck, whose serviettes & packaging are made from bio-compostable products and is run on bio-diesel) to ice cream sandwiches (Coolhaus). In Brooklyn it’s ribs, Manhattan has desserts and dumplings, DC has On The Fly.

Afraid? Don’t be. These companies have just taken their businesses to the streets. Instead of having one stationary restaurant or store where people may or may not travel to, they are taking the food to the people in all different neighborhoods throughout the city AND they’ve gotten smart about advertising their locations. The first high profile pioneer was the brilliant mastermind of Kogi Korean BBQ, whose headquarters is based in NY. They would let their peeps in NY know when and where they’d be stopping and they’d then Tweet (@kogibbq) about it, thus creating a craze that is still going strong. I don’t think I’ve ever passed by this truck without a line wrapped around it. They’ve been known to feed up to 800 peeps at one stop. Crazy.

Have a read here from the LA Times to see how Kogi came to be. Quite interesting and inspiring I think.

As I was thinking about writing about this ‘phenomenon’ I came across an article this past week in the LA Times Business section about a cupcake business here in LA, Sprinkles Cupcakes, who have just launched their “Sprinklesmobile”. Brilliant. I’ve been to this place and they do make good cupcakes. They’re conscious of not diluting the market with their brand by opening too many stores so they figure they can hit some new markets frequently by bringing the cupcakes to them. Interestingly, they plan on using social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook to ‘talk’ to their potential customers and decide where to sell their product. It’s not only the name of the game for techies, it’s the wave of the future for all businesses. Are you on board?

Image courtesy of LA Times
Image courtesy of LA Times

I’m doing some research for an article I’m writing about this subject, so let me know if you have seen the truck phenomenon in your area. Keen to find out if it’s just a US craze or if it’s gone global so do you have a local company delivering quality food in your town, city or country?

And if not, I may have just given you a brilliant business idea!

Cheers.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

the giant & lil leprechaun July 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

Hey guys! It is amazing how these have become such a big hit lately. We have a few here on Maui that are extremely popular, but have been around for years! We have multiple ones around the island, but there are 2 that first come to mind! One is called Nobu’s (which is the owner/operator’s name) and it serves more local style food. With the rent being so high here in Lahaina, we have lost most of the local style restaurants, so locals flock to Nobu’s for lunch. Mon- Fri he parks in front of Napa Auto Parts and people swarm to him! The other place is down in Makena and is called Jawz Tacos (www.jawzfishtacos.com/). They also have a restaurant, but I have only been to the “taco” stand. It is however much more than just tacos. Strategically placed, there is no competition and just as you leave “Big Beach.” It’s always a yummy treat. My favorites are the shrimp tacos and shave ice!

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