Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

MAR 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 93 of 107

92 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • MARCH 2018 market spotlight truck, which can limit menu development, says Myrick. Some big cities, like Chicago, have rules governing how close a truck can operate to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Other towns restrict food truck businesses to private events. Despite these challenges, food trucks continue to perse- vere. "There is still a stigma in some areas, but it has helped that many brands and restaurants use food trucks," Myrick adds. "And even though there are some limitations from a health department perspective, I cannot think of any cuisine type that hasn't been offered by a U.S. food truck." Gearing Up for Success Colin Fukunaga incorporated his food truck business 10 years ago. Like Silverstein, his initial goal was to open a traditional restaurant. Also like Silverstein, the recession impacted that dream. "I had investors, but funding was pulled after the economic collapse," he says. In Fukunaga's case, his parents recommended the food truck business. "Being in the restaurant business for 27 years, I thought it was genius," Fukunaga says. "Rather than copying what others were doing, as an experienced restaurant operator, I wanted to see what I could do to raise it to the next level." Noticing customer service often took a back seat among food trucks, Fukunaga set out to exceed guest expectations with his Las Vegas-based Fukuburger food truck. "If I can make a $10 transaction seem like a $15 or $20 experience, customers will come back," he says. "But saying running a food truck is a lot of work is an understatement. "The failure rate is so high, maybe higher than restaurants," Fukunaga adds. The non-glamorous aspects of a food truck, such as cleaning and the brutal working conditions, make it a love it or hate it type of venture. Catering represents a bright spot in Fukunaga's food truck business, accounting for 10 percent of his business to date. "Private catering is the most lucrative side of this business right now, due to the amount of time put into it and profitability." Silverstein has also increased his emphasis on catering as a growth vehicle. The Food Truck Association's Geller agrees that catering presents a growth opportunity for food truck owners. "Cater- ing also has become a big money maker for food trucks, but the challenge initially was feeding a large number of people at one time quickly," he says. "With today's setups, staff can scoop and serve faster and more efficiently than in the past." Equipment Conundrums In addition to state and local regulations, equipment presents a unique challenge for food truck operators. "A company can make an NSF-certified oven for a restaurant, but what hap- pens if it's shaken around in the back of a truck and running on propane or natural gas?" says Geller. "In some cases, food truck equipment operating standards are outside of foodservice equipment manufacturers' wheelhouses." Some companies specialize in equipment for food trucks, but again, local rules vary. "For example, California has strict regulations as to what equipment can be on a truck compared to Texas, which is very lax," says Geller. In the early years, do-it-yourselfers would simply modify equipment for use in a truck, reinforce it and strap it down. Fukunaga initially wanted an open flame charbroiler in his truck. However, regulations limited him to a flat grill. Addi- tional equipment includes a steam table, low-boy refrigerator and freezer. "Lately, I'm seeing many trucks still using standard equipment, but more thought is put into the line and its ef- ficiency," says Myrick. "Most food trucks are lucky to have a 30-inch service aisle, so if you have more than three people working at a time, there's no space to move around." Since food trucks still represent a relatively new segment, many operators use whatever equipment they have on hand. "It may take the next generation of food truck owners to work with manufacturers to make sure equipment works in trucks, whether it's the types of casters or stabilizing straps," says Myrick. "If manufacturers can shrink the size but keep the volume capabilities the same, that would help truck own- ers. Still, with a small footprint comes menu limitations." "Early on, there wasn't a lot of maneuverability, but now more people know how to retrofit these trucks with different equipment," Fukunaga says. "I still think the industry has a lot of morphing to do," says Myrick. FE&S Above: Colin Fukunaga's food truck concept, Fu- kuburger opened with the goal to exceed customer expectations. Left: With tight footprints, food trucks like Fukuburger get creative and use every inch pos- sible.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Foodservice Equipment & Supplies - MAR 2018