I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought in the last nine months, since Pat first told us about his plans to start FoodTruckr. What is it, really, that makes food trucks so special? It’s food…from a truck.
When you break a food truck down to its components, it doesn’t sound that special. In fact, I have some friends (you could call them food truck haters) who are quick to point out the problems with food trucks: no seating, hard to find, and—my favorite objection—it’s food from a truck!
But clearly there’s something more, something greater than the individual components. Otherwise, people wouldn’t be so captivated by food trucks. If food trucks weren’t special, you wouldn’t have started one and your customers wouldn’t keep coming back. But you did, and they do. So what makes food trucks so special, really?
I have a few ideas, and then I’d love to hear yours. Here’s what I think are the magic ingredients that make food trucks special:
- The permission to specialize: Nearly every truck has a “thing,” whether it’s three kinds of fish tacos or the perfect grilled cheese. When you open a restaurant, people push you to cater to everyone and every diet, but with a food truck, you’re allowed—even encouraged—to master one specific thing (fish tacos, please!). It transforms the truck from just another restaurant into a mission.
- The joy of discovery: One of my friends says that every time she drives past The Grilled Cheese Truck, her husband insists they stop (whether he was hungry or not). The nomadic nature means that we never know when we’ll come across our favorite truck, and it inspires the same thrill as finding a forgotten childhood toy in our mom’s basement.
- The sense of community: When is the last time you had a conversation with a stranger on the street? If a stranger tried to talk to me about anything beyond a request for directions, I know I’d be wary. And yet, I can think of a half-dozen great conversations I’ve had while waiting for my food truck order. It’s as if there’s a special “conversation safe zone” around the truck—everybody’s cheerful and ready for a chat.
Those are just a few ingredients in the magic alchemy of a food truck. What did I miss? Why do you think food trucks are special? Tell me in the comments below!
#FoodTruckFan posts are by Mindy Holahan.
Image by JeffreyW