Schnitzel & Things Forced to Raise Prices

Still worth it for $10? I say yes.

A few weeks ago I did a post detailing how, despite all the hype and PR, none of the new school vendors are really making any money. Need proof? Well, here it is. After an insane week that included winning the Rookie of the Year Vendy Award, followed by countless media appearances (including this one on CNBC), the Schnitzel & Things Truck has some very sad news to report. From the owner Oleg:

This is a letter to all of our loyal fans and customers. We are raising the prices of our schnitzel platters and sandwiches by $1. We understand how important our customers are to us, and feel that you deserve an explanation as to why this is necessary. Our main goal is to consistently provide the best quality product, and with the increased demand, we’ve had to incur some new expenses, such as a full commercial kitchen as well as new staff. Our menu is diverse and includes a wide variety of options, which are prepared fresh daily, and that requires a large amount of preparation, even down to the condiments we serve. Since we did hire new staff, it is our personal belief that they deserve a living wage, which in the restaurant business is rarely seen.

We certainly do not want to increase prices, but this is the only way we can maintain the quality you’ve come to expect from us. The rest of the prices on the menu will remain the same. We wanted to proactively approach this situation and reach out to our customers directly. We hope that you will continue to support us despite the $1 increase. We thank you for understanding and hope to see you soon.

Hmmm. It’d be pretty easy to jump all over these guys for raising their prices (and I usually do) but they are selling a high quality product. Their side dishes are stand outs, they use really good meat, and they give you a ton of food. The choice between paying $10 for a platter of their schnitzel and having the truck survive, or paying $9 and having them go out of business is no choice at all. Of course if things get more expensive than that, I’m out (nobody should have to spend more than $10 on lunch- especially from a truck! After all, isn’t the whole point of street food to offer an inexpensive alternative?)

Street vending is a high volume business. You need to sell a lot of food to make any kind of money, and if your food is more complex than chicken over rice, or hot dogs it’s hard to do serious volume working in such a limited space. So, in order to make enough of this kind of food- many new vendors have found that they need a commercial kitchen… which is essentially like paying rent. (It’s also why it’s easier for Rickshaw Dumpling to stay in business than it is for a new stand alone vendor. They have a restaurant on 23rd where they can make all the food for their truck.)

That being said, the food from the Schnitzel & Things Truck is great and I don’t want to see them go out of business. But let this be a lesson to all entrepreneurs out there who think there is money to be made by going mobile and selling a higher quality product than the standard street food fare. If your business plan shows you being profitable in a shorter amount of time than it would take opening a brick and mortar store, you probably need a new business plan. It is tough to make money selling food from the street, and all the publicity and awards in the world doesn’t change that.

News Flash: New Street Vendors Are Finding It Difficult to Make Money
Schnitzel & Things Truck is Veal-Tastic!


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I guess I’m ok with it – as I usually buy the platter and throw the extra dollar in the tip jar.

  • tip jars at carts/trucks are lame. i consider it part of the price i am paying for the food.

  • Steve, I’m with ya. Though I do tip at the after-hours carts since their volume is much lower, but not at lunch. Though I guess I do tip at the schnitz/dutchy carts… For $11, I’m not sure if I will.

    (I’ll still be at the schnitz truck today though. I want to try the cod)

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    The food is good so it’s ok. When I got my pork sandwich I couldn’t believe how much I got for what I paid for it. Like, that was a complete steal. So an extra $1 shouldn’t kill anyone.

  • more importantly , will they have the burger today!!

  • @wellerfan:

    The burger is now a permanent menu item!!! I can’t wait to try it

  • So I won’t have to race out there before noon today to get the burger? Or has that not changed?

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    I think we’ll see more high profile carts open a kitchen space. Why not? Some of these carts already have name reco and followings. At least one truck-er has publicly stated he’s going to leverage his truck into something more.

    And as Zach mentioned, there’s a synergy to having a dedicated space and a truck. You think the Daisy Mae cart would be the same without a mothership from which to prepare the food? I would guess a dedicated space would yield a place park your own carts at night, too. That’s another cost advantage.

    I would think these schnitzel guys could set up somewhere, get a beer license and do very well.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Won’t deter me at all. The biggest hindrance to me eating at this cart is that it is only near me on Mondays.

  • I certainly don’t want these better trucks to close and hope they can at least make a lving for sure but I’m not a fan of the huge servings, it’s lunch, offer a small order for $7, or cut the size down and keep it under $10.

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    I just went by. The line is already ridiculous. At 11:50 there were over twenty people in line. I popped over to Bistro to check the soups and when I came back there were even more people in line, maybe thirty or more.

    No joke, people were still streaming in. I heard two guys in suits talking about how “maybe it wont’ be bad” as they passed through the lobby towards the truck.

    I bailed. I might stop by later for Second Lunch and see what’s left.

    Damn you Schnitzel truck!

    (These guys should be scouting out a space NOW. The old Soup Nazi space is still there and empty…)

  • Same here, Mike – saw the ridiculously long line (good for Schnitzel Truck, bad for me). Decided since the Soup Guy is back, I’d throw some love his way instead of waiting 45 minutes (that I don’t have) for lunch.

  • Ditto on the line. 35 people at 11:55am. I bailed as well and went for street meat at 53rd & 6. Guess the extra $1 at S&T isn’t hurting.

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    Dave – is that the soup cart(s) with the red sign? I got some way back when they first appeared, a few years ago, and found them kinda thin. Any good?

    What I’m really looking for is the best chicken pot pie soup. Bistro makes a good one but has it rarely. Manager told me they’ll have it tomorrow, if anyone cares. It’s pretty good, though I prefer the ‘with crust’ type.

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    They weren’t forced to raise prices. That makes it sound like someone put a gun to their head. They raised their prices ’cause it made sense. Still, delicious product’s worth the price hike!


  • Mike, I guess you were right behind me. I got to the cart at 11:50 and it was exactly 20 people deep.

    I think pshinnyc looked familiar.

    Mike, I had the cream of broccoli soup. The soups seemed to be your standard soups. Heavy on the potatoes, and the cream was heavy on the cream as well (ie, the kind that when cool you could probably spackle up a wall). Not too bad for the price though, but I doubt it’s homemade.

  • I could see the soups being made from scratch. Nothing terribly tough about chucking a few ingredients in a pot and simmering for hours. I envision one kitchen serving up soups for a dozen carts every morning.

    The water-based soups are pretty thin, but the NE clam chowder and chicken jerky soups (all I ever really get) are creamier and thick. Today’s soup, the jerky, was loaded with rice so it was fairly thick, and the ladle guy’s ratio of food to broth is favorable.

    I know what you mean about a pot pie soup, but I have yet to see one on these carts.

  • They get a lot of press and raise their prices. I know you are trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but that’s what happened. The increased business should cover their costs.

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