Are food trucks just a fad or are they now a permanent part of our food culture? I recently sat down with Kelly Bennett, the Director of Sales and Community Engagement for Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe to explore this question. Spoiler alert: they are here to stay and the reason why is simple. Do you remember running to catch the ice cream truck or having a picnic with your family at your favorite park? Food trucks are subconsciously a blast from the past. Think about it, you’re at a park, festival or even outside your office and you see a bright-colored food truck like Ruthie’s pull up serving made to order, spruced up, grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s comfort food, out of a truck, just like the ice cream truck was… ok still is. 🙂
Food trucks aren’t a new idea, remember chuckwagons from the old west? The modern food trucks first showed up in cities like NYC and LA back in 2008. Even Austin has been enjoying food trucks for many years. Heard of Torchy’s Tacos? only the best queso on the planet! They started as a food “trailer” in Austin, back in 2006. I pay homage every time I visit and Kelly is right, there is just something about standing in line, outside a cool looking truck or trailer to order your meal then enjoying it outside as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a restaurant.
The food trucks of today are not like the “roach-coaches” of old. These are high quality, scratch kitchen type menus. Nothing, (in Ruthie’s anyway), is pre-made, every item is made-to-order. These modern trucks often have an ethnic flair , or some special niche in the food chain. They also don’t just drive around town aimlessly looking for customers. Ruthie’s, for example, is at Klyde Warren Park every Wed.-Sun. and can often be found at SMU and at special events hosted by big names like the Dallas Mavericks and the Cowboys. To find out where Ruthie’s and your other favorite food trucks will be on any given day, follow them on Facebook and Twitter where they post their daily/weekly “public” calendar.
So now you might be wondering if they have a public calendar what on earth is on their “private” calendar?!? Because Ruthie’s has three trucks, all decorated a little different BTW, they are available for private events like weddings, carnivals, corporate parties, you name it. If you work for a large business and can guarantee a set amount of sales, you can even request that they park in your building’s parking lot for lunch. You could score serious brownie points with this idea.
Whether you like the idea of food trucks or not, they seem to be here to stay, and you will most likely see more and more popping up in the future. Ruthie’s was one of the first trucks in the Dallas area and is celebrating their 6th year with business continuing to grow every year. I chose to spotlight Ruthie’s for a very specific reason. Their mission statement reads as follows: “Providing exceptional service and quality comfort food in order to impact our local community and nonprofit organizations.” A portion of every dollar that Ruthie’s make, goes back into the community through their Snacks of Kindness campaign. This is an out of the box idea that you won’t want to miss learning about in next week’s post. So if you haven’t tried a food truck out yet, put it on our bucket list and return to those childhood memories of the ice cream truck on a hot summer day.