AUSTIN, TX – The number of food trucks and trailers in Austin continues to expand rapidly. Now a new organization has popped up aiming to organize the hundreds of mobile food vendors in the city to confront issues ranging from permitting issues to what to do with used grease.
The Food Trailer Alliance is largely organized by Tony Yamanaka, a marketing guy at Austin’s Better Business Bureau. We called him up to find out more about his organization.
KUT News: Before the Food Trailer Alliance, you started the website Food Trailers Austin. What stoked your interest in starting up that website?
Tony Yamanaka: I was in Portland and saw a large food trailer community, and thought that Austin needed something similar to help people know about their business and help it grow. It started as a website for fun, and now it is more than a database.
KUT News: Now you have your non-profit, the Food Trailer Alliance. Can anyone join?
Yamanaka: Eligibility is based on, if you are a trailer owner or operator in the region, and if you have a valid Mobile Vendor License.
KUT News: What are some of the challenges food trucks face?
Yamanaka: Food trailer owners were having similar issues, not food related, but rather business related, [like] getting rid of waste products like grease. I thought holding a meeting would be a good option for them.
KUT News: The alliance was launched about a year ago. Why did it take a year to hold their first meeting?
Yamanaka: (laughs) That’s a good question. Well I’m not in the food industry and I’m not a trailer owner, I’m just someone that is facilitating. It takes a long time to get recognized. To become the resource that helps food trailers get in touch with other people, they have to know who you are . They know that my intentions behind it are good and that it is for them. Really, they are helping me build it. They are the ones with all the valuable information. I’m just helping them share it.
KUT News: Who showed up at the first meeting?
Yamanaka: It went really well, I had expected about 15 people to be there but we actually had a rough count of 50 and only three of them were vendors, which is great. The rest of them were trailer owners or people that operated trailers. It was supposed to run an hour and ended up running three hours. Everyone was sharing information, socializing and exchanging numbers.
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