Are Mobile Food Trucks Becoming Less Mobile?

One of the allures of food trucks (aside from cheap, delicious food) is the fact that they are able to move around the city to bring the food to a wide audience. You never know where they will be unless you follow them on Twitter, Facebook or the ML Twitter Tracker. Most have a set schedule from week to week to ensure equal love to all the hungry neighborhoods of New York.

However, more and more food vendors are settling down to one particular neighborhood. In Midtown, Uncle Gussy’s, Jianetto’s Pizza, and Valducci’s can usually be found at the same spot day in and day out. Downtown, you’ll always find Souvlaki GR and Our Heroes. Even Wafels & Dinges have become a little more idle with three of their carts always parked at the same place — one at Columbus Circle and two at Central Park.

This seems to be a strange phenomenon, but I have a few theories as to why this may be happening. First off, the more difficult and complicated the legalities of operating a food truck become, the less attractive the idea of hustling and bustling becomes. If you ingratiate yourself with the businesses, police and community of a certain intersection, the odds of being asked to move are greatly reduced. That means fewer tickets, fewer changes of having to pack up and move after you’ve already started cooking and essentially more profits. And, as the stationary food carts in Midtown have proved, it might be more profitable to foster a regular customer base in one place than stretch yourself too thin and risk not finding the proper foot traffic. This idea was hammered home on the Great Food Truck Race, as trucks stayed in one city for two days and risked losing business when faced with having to find a new parking spot.

While many trucks still bring the love to multiple neighborhoods, the popularity of the WFC and LIC food truck courts have shown that people might just be willing to travel to food trucks as opposed to the other way around. And I won’t be surprised if we continue to see more trucks make the commitment to stay put.


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