Over the course of the past few years, food trucks have become an increasingly popular option for customers looking to grab lunch or simply take a quick coffee break. Just take Arizona, for example: food trucks are not only found parked on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus to draw in the student crowds, but events like Street Eats Festival at Salt River Fields, the Food Truck Block Party in Tempe, and more are wildly popular. The 2014 Street Eats Festival at Salt River Fields drew over 25,000 visitors to the two-day annual event with its 60 food trucks. At least one vendor sold over 1,000 lobster rolls each day, with lines of over 100 people forming before the business sold out.
Now, a number of young, savvy business owners are taking full advantage of this innovative opportunity. Consider Press, an Italian street food vendor owned and operated by T.J. Coffey and Gerald Allen; the two chefs opened Press with the possibility of opening a brick-and-mortar store in the future, but have found that the food truck has some compelling advantages.
“Being mobile gives me the ability to reach multiple markets,” Coffey told the State Press. “If one area doesn’t work, I can move to another location.”
Today, Press announces its location through sites like Instagram, alerting customers to the best places to take their lunch breaks. However, Coffey says there are multiple ways to make a profit from their mobile business. After noticing that private catering was blossoming among Arizona’s food trucks, Coffey and Allen began catering weddings, rehearsal dinners and other private events. Coffey notes that the wedding market has become especially popular, as the convenience and unique idea of using a food truck has drawn in plenty of young couples.
Meanwhile, other vendors have noted that the price of starting a food truck is also a compelling reason to open a mobile restaurant. While it might cost a restaurateur $300,000 to open a storefront, business owners only need to raise $30,000 to open a food truck. Because of this, everyone from professional chefs to home cooks are able to strike out on their own, whereas the cost of operating a business might have previously held them back.
However, business owners like Coffey say that food trucks aren’t just a temporary fad for festivals and events. Just look at the coffee industry. According to Business Insider, this field is worth an estimated $100 billion U.S. dollars worldwide, and entrepreneurs have taken note. With mobile espresso vans and cafes, business owners can offer an appealing product in a convenient, interesting manner, making food trucks the new best place for a coffee break.
“Many people don’t know that the customer holds most of the power and can help saturate their city,” Coffey told the State Press.“Every dollar spent is a vote for the food and service that we provide,” he says. “The owners are the true sense of local, small business.”With this kind of attention and economic possibility, it is unlikely that the food truck trend will fizzle out in Arizona.
Through organizations like the Phoenix Street Food Coalition and other groups, it is easier than ever for various communities to reach out to different vendors, make requests and hire them for events. While other areas might not be so well-organized, one thing seems evident: food trucks are here to stay.