Food Truck Boom Or Bust? Depends On What Your Serve

Food Truck Boom Or Bust? Depends On What Your Serve

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Charlotte, NC - It’s become cool to eat from a truck in Charlotte.

More than 30 mobile kitchens serving gourmet fare have sprung up here recently and they’ve been welcomed warmly by city and neighborhood leaders – unlike the chilly reception Charlotte’s original food trucks faced. 

Charlotte foodtrucks
Photo/Julie Rose

These new mobile chefs in Charlotte talk like battle-scarred road warriors with stories of setting up in empty lots, hoping people would come.

David Trauner remembers a night last February. “There was four of us – decided to come and see if it was gonna work out.”

Trauner sells ice cream and crepes from his truck called “Sticks and Cones.”

“I looked at my wife and it was probably 30 degrees and I said, ‘What are we doing here?'” recalls Trauner. “One week after another we just waited it out and now tonight we’ll probably have 600, 700 people here tonight easily.”

Food trucks painted in funky colors and powered by generators are a fixture in Charlotte’s hip South End neighborhood on Friday nights. They’re at special events Uptown and parked outside bars and office parks all over the region. The trend has gained impressive traction in just a matter of months.

Truck owners like Trawner who’ve been at it longer than a year feel like pioneers.

Except they’ve got nothing on Manuel Gaucin.

For seven years he’s grilled authentic Mexican tacos in his mobile taqueria here in Charlotte.

As recently as 2008, more than 70 taco trucks like Gaucin’s operated along major thoroughfares such as Central Avenue, North Tryon and South Boulevard. Today, their numbers are down by at least half – largely because of strict new rules the city passed in 2008.

To be clear, we’re not talking about health codes. Those are consistent and strictly enforced. What changed was the ordinance about where trucks can do business. They have to be 400 feet from residential areas and from other food trucks. They can’t stay in one location longer than 90 days. They need a $135 permit from the city for every spot they set up shop. And they have to close by 9 p.m.

Find the entire article by Julie Rose at wfae.org <here>

 

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