Meals On Wheels: Food Trucks and Family Business

by NxtGen Nexus | May 11, 2022 | Entrepreneurialism

Food trucks are some of the most popular trends in recent years. Thousands of these food-on-wheels have been popping up all over the United States. From sandwiches to desserts to full-course meals, there’s a food truck out there to satisfy your cravings on the go. Many of these food trucks are family-owned businesses that thrived because of the hard work of the owners.

History of Food Trucks 

The history of American food trucks dates back centuries ago. Since the late 17th Century, mobile dining was already a thing. And even way before that, street food was sold before people even knew to call them street food. Many larger cities on the east coast like New Amsterdam, modern-day New York City, started regulating street vendors selling from pushcarts in 1691.

In the 1850s, dining carts were used to sell food to train passengers. A few more years after that, the first diner is set up in a horse-drawn freight wagon. In the early 1890s, vendors start selling hotdogs and sausages outside of big eastern universities. During the War, the US Army deployed mobile canteens to feed troops faster. In the 1950s, ice cream trucks became a thing that roamed the streets for anyone wanting a frozen treat.

What would become one of the pioneers for present-day food trucks would emerge in the 1980s. Grease trucks began parking in front of Rutgers University in New Jersey selling “Fat SDandwiches” to students and passersby. A couple of decades past and more and more people start selling their food on carts and trucks.

Finally, in 2004, The Street Vendor Project comes up with the Vendy Awards. It is a competition that celebrates the most ingenious and the best NYC street food vendors. Two years later in July 2006, Wikipedia adds the words “food truck” to their list of entries.

It wouldn’t be until January 2010 that the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association (SoCalMFVA) is created. It was the first organization created to protect the rights of gourmet food truck owners. In 2014, The National Food Truck Association is formed. It is the first national association of food truck owners and vendors.

Why Food Trucks Are a Good Investment

Running a family business is a dream for thousands of people, but choosing the right business platform can be tricky and require due research and diligence before getting fully into it. In 2019, the average food truck grossed more than $300,000 with a revenue increase of 12% over the last five years. This dining option only continues to grow in popularity as an upward trend and shows no signs of slowing.

Today’s food trucks offer culinary works of art with creative spins on many traditional recipes. From Western to Middle Eastern to Asian to European cuisine, food trucks have now become as diverse as restaurants, if not more. Even more surprisingly, many food trucks turn a bigger profit and ROI than physical restaurant locations.

Why Food Trucks Are Getting More Popular

There are several main reasons why food trucks are getting more popular. First up, they are low-cost on operations. The lower operating cost that comes with the food truck industry means that they can provide high-quality service and food at a much lower capital cost. It is a perfect choice for persons interested in starting a business on a small scale.

Second, as a consumer, it is a good choice for those who are looking for convenient access to food but without excessive cost. Food trucks usually sell cheaper food because of their lower cost of operations. Lower rent and lower utility costs mean less price on the final product. Best of all? Food trucks can serve the same quality of food as regular restaurants but do not need as much space and utilities, thus, lessening the cost of investment.

Most Popular Family-Owned Food Trucks

The food truck business is a family business. Many families collect their savings together to start a small food truck business in their backyards or somewhere in their hometown. It takes financial resources to get any business started; the same goes for starting a food truck. You and your family need to be able to invest in a working truck, purchase supplies, prepare food, handle bookkeeping, and maximize marketing efforts.

Luckily for some of these food truck owners, it all worked out for them. Building their family business from the ground up was not an easy feat but they were able to pull through. Not only that, but they managed to flourish in a very competitive industry. Below are some of the most popular family-owned food trucks in the U.S.

Grilled Cheeserie, Nashville, Tennessee 

This food truck started rolling in 2010. The co-owners are Crystal De Luna-Bogan, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, and her husband Joseph. They started the business as a way to serve up gourmet grilled cheese melts using eco-friendly ingredients and cooking methods. Their specialty melts include the B&B of Tennessee (buttermilk cheddar cheese and bacon) and the Pimento Mac & Cheese (housemade pimento cheese cheddar, macaroni, and bacon bits). You can also customize your own. There are now two food trucks around Nashville.

B’s Tacos, New Hampshire

Founded in 2013, B’s Tacos is a family-owned food truck business that prides itself in using all-organic ingredients sourced from local farmers. They specialize in making delicious tacos and burritos. They also have a vegetarian and gluten-free menu for those who want to opt for dishes more suited to their diet and lifestyle.

Fukuburger Truck, Las Vegas

Colin Fukunaga grew up flipping burgers in his grandfather’s sandwich shop. Continuing the family business under a different, more modern name, Colin decided to open up his gig. His mother noticed all the taco trucks popping up in Los Angeles in 2010 but Colin had no interest in making tacos. He decided to make what he did best — delicious, greasy goodness in a bite. He fused his Japanese culture into his recipes, making burgers with toppings like wasabi mayonnaise and his secret “crack sauce.”

Luke’s Lobster, New York City

Founder of Luke’s Lobster, Luke Holden, grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. His father worked as a fisherman and lobster processor. Growing up, Luke spent many summers in the docks. While he went on to become an investment banker in NYC for a while, Luke eventually came back to his roots. He couldn’t find a decent lobster roll that wasn’t overpriced around the city so he was inspired to open his shop. With his dad’s connection to the fishing industry, he was able to start his lobster food truck.

Cupcakes for Courage

Founded by sisters Kathryn Chandler and Laura Pekarik, Cupcakes for Courage is more than food on wheels. After Kathryn was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s T-cell lymphoma in 2010, the sisters decided to put up a cupcake business and donate a portion of the profits to varying worthy causes. One of their recipients is the American Cancer Society. What’s better than enjoying a delicious Pink Velvet or Maple Bacon while helping out at the same time?

New Ideas for Your Family’s Food Truck

The food truck industry is a hard one to conquer. Many have tried and failed and tried again for many years. It’s a hit and miss, especially if you aren’t all too familiar with the crowd of customers. Some food truck veteran owners would advise you to come up with something familiar and already well-loved by people. Dishes like burgers and pizza and fried chicken.

Others would advise you to come up with something unique. A shiny new dish that would have everyone lining up to get a taste. This can either make or break your new business venture. To reconcile the two, try coming up with something that is both familiar and unique. Ethnic fusions are an example of this. Try French-inspired burgers or Filipino-inspired desserts. Be bold and creative but best of all, work hard and love your work.


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