Archive for 'Food Truck Issues'

There Are Surprising Similarities Between NYC & L.A. Food Truck Situations: Today's New York Times has an op-ed I wrote about the current food truck crack down happening in Midtown Manhattan. Much of it is not applicable to Los Angeles, but it is interesting to note the similarities in how traditional street food vendors (like loncheros and halal trucks) have managed to exist for years despite a hostile civic climate, and how the newer food trucks have clearly thrown a bit of a wrench into the balance of things.

It’s a Dark, Confusing Time For Food Trucks

Food truck negativity seems to be picking up steam this week following the less than kind L.A. Times article on Friday. Bon Appetit posted a “I”m Sick of Food Trucks” article on their blog yesterday, and Tom Collichio called food trucks the worst new restaurant trend in a Metromix interview. But just to give you an idea of how confusing the scene really is… two days after the L.A. Times published their article about how the food truck business is on the decline (featuring the owner of Road Stoves, the biggest food truck outfitter in Los Angeles), they published a second article in the Business section saying that companies who make food trucks are doing gangbusters. Make up your mind, media!

LA Times Food Truck Article Raises A Lot of Interesting Points

Today’s L.A. Times has a less than glowing look at the exploding food truck scene in L.A., and I have to say… it’s about time!  It’s not completely surprising that food trucks who have been around for a few years would not like an influx of competition, and it’s kind of unfair and strange to see Road Stoves, a company with 20 food truck clients on their website including ESPN and Camarena Tequila, talking about how other people are just prostituting the culture to make money. But all in the all the article touches on some important and interesting subjects, including big business trying to get in on the action (like Sizzler & Jack and the Box), copycat trucks, the influx of clueless entrepreneurs expecting to make a fortune, and how  real money is in catering  or deals with grocery stores, not selling food on the street.  I especially liked reading Roy Choi talk about street food as a community thing, although I disagree about food truck lots being a bad thing. Kogi has put a lot of time and thought into where they park, and that works for them, but hawker centers where street food vendors can come together are also a great thing, not just for vendors but for the community as well.

In the end it’s great to see more open discussion about the perils of running a food truck in such a major media outlet.  It’s a long time coming for an industry that is not only growing at an unsustainable rate, but has benefited from a massive amount of sugar coated media.

News Flash: New Street Vendors Are Finding It Difficult to Make Money
Manila Machine Should Tell the Truth: They’re Closing (Their Truck) Because Running a Food Truck Sucks

Manila Machine’s Response

For those who are interested, Manila Machine posted a response to my article on their blog yesterday.  It misses the point of my post, and twists some of my words around, but in a one hour conversation I had with co-owner Nastassia yesterday apologizing to her for any grief I might have caused them and explaining my editorial in detail, I told her I would post any response they had and promote it with just as much vigor as I promoted my own words.  But just for the record, I still stand by everything I wrote yesterday- and know that it is 100% true.

What I really wanted people to get out of my post yesterday was that running a profitable food truck is way more difficult than the media and food trucks themselves (who want to protect their reputations for future endeavors) would lead to you believe.  As somebody who has spent the past 4+ years supporting so many of these new food trucks (both in New York and Los Angeles) I’ve read too many of these rosey, “closing to pursue other opportunities” PR announcements.  Food truck owners need to realize that their actions effect the whole community of street food vendors, old and new.  And if you’re considering jumping into the street food world for any other reason than to create a sustainable, long term food truck business, you should reconsider, because it ends up hurting those who rely entirely on their food trucks to pay their bills.

I know that Marvin & Nastassia didn’t get into the food truck business for the wrong reasons.  The passion and love they brought to their food was clearly on display every single day, and it’s why I loved the truck from the beginning.  In fact, as one of their biggest supporters, and somebody who wants to see great food trucks like the Manila Machine succeed, it’s their continued insistence to spin Friday’s announcement as “good news” (or a “wonderful end”)  that makes me so sad.

LA Food Fest Tasting Event Makes Me Super Excited For The Manila Machine
Manila Machine is a Great Gateway to Eating More Face

Manila Machine Should Tell the Truth: They’re Closing (Their Truck) Because Running a Food Truck Sucks

April Fools Day never disappoints when it comes to outlandish news stories, but one sad story from Friday looks like it’s actually true. Manila Machine, the six ten month old Filipino food truck run by two food bloggers, will no longer be roaming the streets of Los Angeles, selling their delicious lumpia, sisig, and pork adobo. The news is disheartening for a few reasons, not least of which is the fact that I loved the truck. It was one of the few “gourmet” food trucks doing something truly unique (and it didn’t hurt that it was also delicious.)

But as much as I loved Manila Machine, and am sad to see them go, I was really upset by the letter they posted on their website announcing their “hiatus”. In it they list all their amazing accomplishments (press, awards and the such) and imply that the truck is closing because they’ve achieved all their goals- one of which was to make it to the 6 month mark. Sorry, but I call bullshit. And if they are completely satisfied with what they “accomplished”, they never should have opened a food truck in the first place and teased us with their delicious Filipino treats- only to pull them out from under from us once the very first “possibilities beyond the realm of food trucking” presented themselves.

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