I am not youthful, wired in, mobile or hip.
I despise video games. I still text in full paragraphs (with punctuation), and I throw away jeans when they have holes in them, not purchase them that way.
I think the lifespan of a television set should be decades, not months, and one should watch every episode of “Gunsmoke” the way God intended, once a week for 22 years.
However, the one thing those bearded, slacker hipsters in skinny jeans have gotten right is food trucks.
The whole world seems to have figured out that it is a lot cheaper and smarter (and just more fun) to drive to where the customers are, rather than just kind of hope they find you. And once you find a group of hungry hipsters, you just pull up and serve them great food.
It’s really very democratic; they come halfway to you and you go halfway to them.
On any city block (and more and more small towns) at lunch or dinner, one can find BBQ, Thai, Mexican, pizza, mac and cheese, or vegan treats, all ready to sample and with a minimum of overhead.
When the rush ends, the truck heads off for the next group of hungry diners, who are willing to stand in line for fast, gourmet fare.
Food trucks are not the old canteen trucks that pulled up in front of factory gates where cigarettes, coffee and tuna-salad sandwiches could be purchased, along with a racing form and perhaps the occasional para-mutual wager could be procured from a blue-collar guy named Charlie, Mick or Ralphie.
There is nothing blue collar about getting a fresh crepe filled with pulled smoked duck in a blood orange sauce, except the $7.99 price. ($9.99 with the side of raspberry vinaigrette over spring greens) — and I doubt it comes with a racing forum.
It really is a great way for someone who wants to try food service, without the enormous cost of buying and remodeling a restaurant.
A friend of mine had a great concept for a Chicago-style Italian beef restaurant on a major college campus. The food was great, but it was on a one-way street that was impossible to find parking on. Although he had a cult following, he realized had he been around the corner and 75 feet closer to the main drag, he would have been successful.
Today, in the spot he wished he had, there is a food truck that pulls up when bars start to empty out and leave when the last student stumbles away.
It’s also a great way for the culinarily creative to try different plates and instantly know whether it will be a success or not. If Mango slaw is not working as a side dish, put it in a waffle cone with pulled pork and and you have “walking BBQ.”
The whole concept is catching on not only for business people and college kids, but people are bringing in several trucks to cater proms, weddings and sporting events.
Another friend recently started a BBQ truck and invited several friends over to help him perfect a BBQ pizza recipe. We all tried different combinations at different times and temperatures, and when we were done, I felt like it was a good product. But the key was that it was a low-stress affair, which I think sums up the entire food truck experience — low stress.
Really, I think food trucks are in most everyone’s DNA. It is just the grown-up version of the Mr. Softee truck coming to your neighborhood. You had your money in hand, and like Pavlov’s dog, every time the bell sounded, people came running. The good news is the person on the truck is probably a passionate chef, not a sketchy hippie almost assuredly with bodies buried in his crawl space.