ROCHESTER, NY – Search eBay for the term “food truck” and you’ll find a graveyard: more than a thousand entries, many listed by owners of food truck businesses that have gone bust.
Many of these ads showcase fully outfitted, custom-built food service vehicles wrapped in colorful designs hawking fare like artisanal waffles, barbecue and Cajun-Cuban fusion. In some cases, the business is for sale along with the truck: Prices range all the way up to $119,900. For despite individual failures, the food truck craze shows no sign of slowing down.
One eBay listing shows what was formerly The Gourmet Waffler, an artisanal-waffle truck based in Rochester, N.Y. Co-owner Jill Stolt shuttered the truck a year ago after two years on the road. She and business partner Carl Wolf recently decided to sell it online.
Dazzled by the trendy food truck industry in cities like Los Angeles and New York, Stolt had been inspired to bring one to Rochester. “We did not have any of the gourmet stuff in Rochester,” she told The Huffington Post, “so we were one of the first on the road in this market.”
But Stolt said the business, which she had hoped to operate while also running an organization for troubled youth, was more work than she’d expected. A first-time truck owner, she was soon bogged down by a slew of unanticipated difficulties.
Health code requirements varied from small town to small town, she said, and the vehicle often broke down. Hours spent prepping food, frustrating searches for coveted parking spaces and predictably unpredictable weather added to the strain.
Plus, Stolt recalled, “It was very difficult to get folks, especially in the smaller towns, to come up to the trucks. They were kind of afraid of it.”
In the end, she listed her $40,000 custom truck on eBay for about $30,000.
Stolt’s story was echoed by numerous food truck professionals who spoke to HuffPost: A bright-eyed entrepreneur sees the trend in food trucks and wants to get in on the action, unaware of challenges ahead that often prove too great to overcome.
David Weber, the founder and president of the NYC Food Truck Association, said that operating a food truck is “much, much harder work than even owning a restaurant — and owning a restaurant is hard work.”
Weber, who co-founded Rickshaw Dumpling, described confronting many of the same headaches as Stolt did: onerous city regulations, parking difficulties, bad weather, truck maintenance and, perhaps the hardest, long hours. Rickshaw Dumpling currently has a fleet of four trucks, two brick-and-mortar locations and one kiosk in Times Square, but Weber left the business in 2012 to work for the NYC Food Truck Association full-time.
Find the entire article by Rachel Tepper at the Huffington Post <here>