Korilla BBQ Truck’s Edward Song Talks to Us About the Current State of the Food Truck Biz
When the Korilla BBQ Truck launched nearly 4 year ago, it was arguably a turning point on the NYC food landscape. It represented a new era of food trucks – not just the introduction of Korean tacos being vended from a food truck a la LA’s famed Kogi BBQ Truck, but also a paradigm shift towards the new school of gourmet food trucks.
Since then, many food trucks have come and gone. A ton of drama, police and otherwise, has occurred. However, the Korilla food truck has persevered and grown their footprint since their launch in 2010. I had a chance to sit down with the founder and owner, Eddie Song to talk about the current state of food trucks and his future plans for Korilla.
What’s the current state of food trucks in Midtown?
It’s gotten to the point where it’s super saturated, which is good and bad. It’s very competitive and only the best will survive – it’s natural selection or survival of the fittest, which is great for the customers in that they get a great product and experience.
Any final comments on the Great Foodtruck Race scandal?
I’ll just say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It was the producers’ job to tell a story and that’s all it was.
What’s your take on the current state of NYPD’s crackdown of food trucks?
Police used to kick us out of certain areas that weren’t unrestricted – there are certain blocks that are restricted to food trucks and some that are unrestricted. We’d also get tickets for selling merchandise (food is loosely defined as merchandise), which violates a really old Supreme Court order. For example, Patty’s Taco just lost an appeal to the NY Supreme Court for selling merchandise aka food.
A lot of it is seasonal as well. During the month of December, we didn’t pay a single dollar towards fines, since none of the cops wanted to bother with the cold weather. We’ll probably get more tickets when the weather warms up. However, we’ve been in the game for a minute that we have a good rapport with the police, local businesses, and other food trucks.
With the police, we never act like a victim or confrontational. We simply try to have a mutual respect and treat them like we would want to be treated and then we won’t have any problems. Besides, the cops love our food.
What do you think of Yelp and other critics for that matter?
I think Yelp is confusing AF. It’s filled with some cool, funny and well-written essays. But sometimes reviewers spew venom on the same spot. To those Yelpers, if it’s shit, it ain’t worth the time to write about it. There’s so much more out there to enjoy than waste your time hating for what end? Nowadays, everyone is a critic but one gets paid and others are… Besides, Yelp is turning basically into a Yellow Pages, check out their business model.
However I believe that we can always get better. My personal email address is on our website and I welcome anyone to contact me and give me feedback on how we can get better.
Do you ever regret forsaking a corporate career at Lehman Brothers for being in the food business?
Regret is not in my vocabulary when it comes to business, maybe in past relationships. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but Korilla was not a mistake. This is a passion and a personal desire to get Korean food out there. Once we get the hang of it, I want to do Indian food, a French inspired sandwich shop and a concept called Breakfast Bump. Work hard, play harder and don’t forget health is wealth. I hope Breakfast Bump can embody that lifestyle if you know what I mean.
So are there plans for a brick and mortar Korilla?
Yes, but it’s all under wraps right now. You (Midtown lunch) will be the first to know when and where we open.