In talking to many, many people about our business, the question that comes up very, very often is "Why don't you start with a food truck?" So we decided to put together our Top Ten List for why we are not.
- "It'll be so much easier and cheaper to start a food truck!" Actually, not really. This is one we hear all the time. Outfitting a new food truck costs between $75,000 - $100,000, plus you have the logistical nightmare of powering all of your equipment in a mobile set up. Also, do you think that all that food is prepared ON the truck? Wrong, it's probably prepped in a commercial kitchen, which is another additional expense. And where are you supposed to park it at night? Beyond the start up costs, New York has a limited number of mobile food vendor permits available and there's a wait list. And never mind the costs of having to pay parking tickets.
- "Food trucks are so popular, you should get in on that!" Exactly why we don't want to do it. It's so trendy that we feel like it's jumped the shark. You don't get any additional publicity by being a food truck nowadays because it's not novel anymore. You're constantly battling with other trucks for a prime parking spot. Big corporations have even gotten in on it (have you seen the Gap food truck lately?) and that's just a bad sign.
- The weather really, really kills your business. I mean, really, who wants to stand in a line when it's raining out? I sure don't. We're concerned with providing a good customer experience, and standing out in the rain/snow/heat/cold is not part of that.
- I hate driving. OK, this is more personal preference, but I moved to the city because I HATE DRIVING. Suggesting that I spend every day inside of a vehicle either serving food, driving around trying to avoid cabs and pedestrians, and looking for a parking space every day sounds like a miserable experience for me and I'd really like to avoid it. It's also a barrier for hiring people who don't have driver's licenses.
- The hours are higher than they need to be. Remember those 18 hour shifts that restaurant workers pull? Yea, we're prepared for that. Now tack on a bunch of extra hours for driving around in traffic. No thanks.
- "You can build a loyal following through Twitter!" Believe it or not, not everyone is on Twitter. We know we can build a core group of regulars in our neighborhood by just being in the same place all the time.
- No alcohol. When was the last time you had a beer at a food truck? Oh right, you haven't.
- Blocking pedestrian traffic and being a general nuisance. This one comes courtesy of David, but it is so true. There's a backlash by residents who get annoyed at having a smelly, noisy truck parked outside their door with people blocking up the sidewalk all day and night. And chances are that you're having to break zoning laws because you're taking up a parking space and you'll earn a ticket for that.
- "I'll just sit down right down..." Where? Ever go to a truck and end up having a beverage, a few tacos, an iPhone, a bag of stuff you just bought? Where does that food usually end up? Yea, right, your lap or your shirt. Part of what we want to do with our restaurant is create a space where people can gather and chat, sit and relax and drink beer, and, down the road...plant a garden. Not really happening on a truck. Ok, you could plant a garden on the roof, I've seen that.
- "Excuse me, do you have a bathroom?" Ohhh, right. Got a baby to change? Just had one too many coffees? Sure, you know that that Starbucks on 57th and 8th has a nice one, but 7 blocks, is that reasonable? Not to mention, hey, did you just wash your hands? Gee, I wonder why everyone is getting sick all the time.
Don't get us wrong, we love food trucks. I'm sure there are many good reasons for doing one, and I can think of a whole bunch that we admire that started from a truck and built it into a brick and mortar business (Clover Food Lab up in Boston, Big Gay Ice Cream, Van Leeuwen, etc.). We'd just rather spend our energy in ways that we feel are going to be more productive and conducive to our achieving our goals. Yes, we're starting to do events outdoors to get the word out. But not on a truck.