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Food Trucks

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vegan food truck customers

It’s Monday again, and for today’s Meatless Monday coverage we are going to look at individuals who have taken vegetarianism to the next level in their dietary lifestyle.

Growth in the mobile food industry is only being matched by the growth of individuals in the United States who have made the conscious effort to limit or even eliminate the amount of meat they include in their lives. There are now twice as many vegetarians in American as there were in 1994, and almost a third of them are now vegans.

vegan food truck customers

Food truck owners around the country are constantly looking to find new customers, and being able to offer the growing vegan population food from your truck is an easy way to expand your customer base.

The problem many mobile food unit operators have isn’t that they are open to expanding their menus, but that they aren’t sure what vegans can or cannot eat. Today’s article hopes to help those understand vegan food truck customers, and what they typically eat.

What is a Vegan?

As many people already know, vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. The way the vegans differ from vegetarians is that they do not eat other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products and honey.

Why Veganism?

People choose to follow a vegan lifestyle for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. For example, some vegans feel that one promotes the meat industry by consuming eggs and dairy products.

Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world. They know they are not perfect, but believe they have a responsibility to try to do their best, while not being judgmental of others.

Vegan Food Truck Customer Nutrition

The key to a nutritionally sound vegan diet is variety. A healthy and varied vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Protein

It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein planning or combining is not necessary. The key is to eat a varied diet.

Almost all foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Vegan sources include: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peas, peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli and kale.

Fat

Vegan diets are free of cholesterol and are generally low in saturated fat. Thus eating a vegan diet makes it easy to conform to recommendations given to reduce the risk of major chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. High-fat foods, which should be used sparingly, include oils, margarine, nuts, nut butters, seed butters, avocado, and coconut.

Calcium

Calcium, needed for strong bones, is found in dark green vegetables, tofu made with calcium sulfate, calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice (I also heard that wheatgrass juice is good, tho you need a wheatgrass juicer), and many other foods commonly eaten by vegans. Although lower animal protein intake may reduce calcium losses, there is currently not enough evidence to suggest that vegans have lower calcium needs. Vegans should eat foods that are high in calcium and/or use a calcium supplement.

Other good sources of calcium include: okra, turnip greens, soybeans, tempeh, almond butter, broccoli, bok choy and commercial soy yogurt.

Zinc

Vegan diets can provide zinc at levels close to or even higher than the RDA. Zinc is found in grains, legumes, and nuts.

Iron

Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.

Sources of Iron

Soybeans, lentils, blackstrap molasses, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, Swiss chard, tempeh, black beans, prune juice, beet greens, tahini, peas, bulghur, bok choy, raisins, watermelon, millet, and kale.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In order to maximize production of DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids), vegans should include good sources of alpha-linolenic acid in their diets such as flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, tofu, soybeans, and walnuts.

Common Vegan Foods

Oatmeal, stir-fried vegetables, cereal, toast, orange juice, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, frozen fruit desserts, lentil soup, salad bar items like chickpeas and three bean salad, dates, apples, macaroni, fruit smoothies, popcorn, spaghetti, vegetarian baked beans, guacamole, chili…

Vegans Also Eat…

Tofu lasagna, homemade pancakes without eggs, hummus, eggless cookies, soy ice cream, tempeh, corn chowder, soy yogurt, rice pudding, fava beans, banana muffins, spinach pies, oat nut burgers, falafel, corn fritters, French toast made with soy milk, soy hot dogs, vegetable burgers, pumpkin casserole, scrambled tofu, seitan.

Egg Replacers:

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft tofu blended with the liquid ingredients of the recipe, or
  • 1 small banana, mashed, or
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, or
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch.

The following substitutions can be made for dairy products:

Soy milk, rice milk, potato milk, nut milk, or water (in some recipes) may be used. Buttermilk can be replaced with soured soy or rice milk. For each Cup of buttermilk, use 1 cup soymilk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Soy cheese available in health food stores. (Be aware that many soy cheeses contain casein, which is a dairy product.)

Crumbled tofu can be substituted for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese in lasagna and similar dishes.

Several brands of nondairy cream cheese are available in some supermarkets and kosher stores.

We hope this guide gives you a better understanding on how to serve vegan food truck customers. We understand that some trucks have a very limited menu, however, being able to add at least one vegan meal to your truck’s menu will allow even more people to enjoy your truck’s cuisine.

meatless monday

Please do your part today and join the movement? Signing up is fast and easy! Follow them on Twittter.

Mobile Cuisine Magazine looks forward to sharing Meatless Monday with our readers!

 

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food truck parking tickets
Image Credit: www.nycfoodtrucks.org

Every municipality has its own parking regulations you need to know while you are operating within their city limits. Ignorance of the law is usually no defense against a food truck parking ticket, especially if the police were notified by a restaurant who felt you were parked to close to their storefront.

food truck ticket

Parking tickets in the mobile food industry have become extremely common, partially because they’re easy laws for you to break without being aware of it and also because they make a lot of money for the city. With that said they are the sort of trouble that can be easy to avoid having to pay.

Dealing With Food Truck Parking Tickets

City governments love their parking tickets, so much so that many of them get handed out even if you didn’t break a law. To avoid paying for these tickets the first thing you want to check for is a mistake.

According to parking expert Eric Feder, if anything on the parking ticket is wrong (from the date to the location to the cited violation) you have an easy way out. You can even get out of a ticket if the writing is illegible. If anything is off or wrong on your citation, contest it and you should be able to get it dismissed without much trouble.

If a mistake was made and the citation was real, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Sometimes street markings are confusing or unclear. If that’s the case, photograph your parked food truck, the area around it, and any relevant signs to show as evidence for when you’re in court. You can’t argue ignorance to the law, but if the law can’t be easily understood you can argue that.

You’re also in the clear if your parking violation was the result of an emergency. For example, if your engine overheated and you had to run to a store to get water or antifreeze to cool it off, your receipt can be used as proof to show what you were doing when the ticket was issued.

This is the case for virtually any emergency, so long as you have proof. Technically you could fake an emergency to get out of a parking ticket, but you should really try an honest approach. Most judges are pretty good at detecting lies, so think twice about trying something dishonest.

We hope this article will help a mobile vendor get out of having to pay for a food truck parking ticket they either did not break any law to receive or merely received because the street markings were confusing.

Not only can the fees for these tickets become expensive, but they can get your food truck on the radar of the local ticketing officers who may spend more of their time looking for your truck to give you additional tickets later on. Food truck parking tickets can be the bane of a vendors existence due to the fact that if they want to fight them, it requires that they take time out of the truck to fight them.

Do you have any additional tips on how to beat a food truck parking ticket? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section below, Tweet us, or share them on our Facebook page.

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zombie food truck

The Halloween is back and there will be ghosts and goblins wandering the streets in search of treats in the coming weeks. We have compiled some ideas for your use to help spark sales and show your customers that are in the Halloween spirit with them.

Spookify your Twitter theme: Many people feel as if one profile theme is enough and never touch it after they initially activate their account. Change your theme to match the season show your followers that you and your business enjoy Halloween as much as they do.

pumpkin food truck

Find a Truck Gathering: Throughout the country, more and more cities are allowing food trucks, and in those cities, the market is accepting them with open arms. A recent trend across California is festivals centered on food trucks. Find one of these gatherings that are following a Halloween theme. Show up following some of these tips, and you and your customers will do nothing but enjoy the evening.

Special Halloween Menu Items: This may be the easiest thing for food trucks to do to get into the Halloween spirit. Take a standard menu item, tweak it to give it a Halloween flavor, or even renaming menu items can let your customers know you are part of the scene, not just there for sales.

Costumes: As long as safety is viewed as the number one issue, ask your employees to dress up for the night. Make it fun for both your employees and customers. We don’t want to find out that any of you food truckers has gotten into an accident because you left your mask on while driving or has injured themselves while preparing their food because their costume was to baggy.

Decorations: Fake spider webs, jack-o-lanterns, spooky lighting, maybe even a little dry ice in a bucket outside of the truck. If you have a lot you plan to spend the evening in, decorate it for the occasion.

Halloween Music: This is part of the decorating theme, but something that can be over looked. Go out and buy a compilation CD of Halloween sounds or songs and play them for your customers throughout the night, just make sure to keep the volume at a level where orders can be given without the need to scream.

Candy for the Kids: Always part of Halloween, many parents will be out with their children trick or treating, if the kids are rushing Mom and Dad off because the truck next door is giving away Snickers bars, you are risking a loss in sales.

Contests: Hold a best costume contest at a specific time of the night. Not only will this type of thing be fun for your customers, it will give them more reason to hang around your truck (and buy more food). The winner could receive a free item off your menu.

We would love to hear from our readers about suggestions or tips that you think would work well for food trucks. If you are out tonight and spot a truck that is in the spirit of the night, take a picture and send it to us at admin [at] mobile-cuisine [dot] com. Who knows, your shot, or your favorite truck may be part of the next feature in Mobile Cuisine.

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social media time management

It seems from some of the most recent questions we’ve received that some food truck vendors are still having difficulty in improving their social media presence without having to spend more time than they thought they would to get anything accomplished.

Are you one of these vendors? Not to worry, today’s article is all about social media time management and was designed to show you how to streamline the time you invest with social media while still being able to build a strong online brand that draws customers to your food truck service window.

4 Social Media Time Management Tips

Downsize

One mistake I see some vendors make is joining every social network on the web and spending time to stay relevant on each one. If you are presently on what may seem like every social media platform, take some time to find out which ones are actually drawing customers in and interacting with you.

If there is no customer interaction on some, cut down or eliminate the time you spend there and focus more of your time on those that are more active.

If your customers don’t engage with you on Pinterest or Instagram, there’s no need to be there.

Once you know where you’re your message is being heard, pick two or three and don’t worry about the rest.

Speak With Your Customers

Spend some time engaging with your social media followers. Does is seem as most of them are not in your local area? If not, you could be spending your time engaging with people who may never spend a moment waiting in line for one of your awesome menu items. If this is the case you need to fine tune your approach.

Look at your updates that generate the most interest, and use those as a starting point for conversations. When you find a customer hot button issue, run with it. Be sure you share information that is both relevant to your food truck and beneficial for your customers.

You need to focus your social media communications on your customers to build trust and encourage interaction. This will lead to a creating social media advocates for your food truck business.

Consistant User Names

There are some vendors I found while researching this article that use upwards of 3 to five different user names on various social networks. Some even have several handles for Twitter alone.

Not only is this difficult to manage (unless you are paying someone to handle all of these accounts for you), but it also confuses customers which will ultimately dilute your brand.

Settle on a single username so people can easily find and follow you. Use your food truck’s name or a shorter variation. If you’re Your Name Food Truck on Facebook, don’t create a different handle for Twitter, keep it consistent.

Become Predictable

In social media it pays to be predicable. Create a schedule for posting on the social media networks you’ve chosen to have a presence. Choose times when you know your customers are most likely to see your posts.

Once you have your schedule in place, stick to it, it’s much easier to identify what to share in advance rather than trying to do it in real time.

Use the space in between your scheduled posts for customer conversations. Retweet or comment on things you like and thank customers who promote your food truck.

We hope this helps those of you that are having a tough time navigating all of the social media avenues available to food truck vendors. Time is one thing that we understand vendors don’t have in surplus.

If you have addition tips on social media time management, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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Starbucks food truck

NEW YORK, NY — Here’s something that will make returning to school less painful for some college students: Starbucks is launching food trucks.

The lucky students at Arizona State University, James Madison University in Virginia and Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina won’t have to hit up the school cafeteria for a cup of coffee or snack any longer. The mobile Starbucks truck could be parked right along their route to that 8 a.m. class.

The trucks will offer a menu of food and drinks nearly identical to that found in Starbucks stores and will move to various locations on the campuses, the company said in a news release.

The three selected universities already have Starbucks locations on campus, but the trucks are expected to have more flexible hours and in some cases will stay open later than a dining hall.

The four-wheel service is only a pilot program for now. Trucks are already rolling at Arizona State and James Madison. One will hit the road at Coastal Carolina on Sept. 2.

Find the entire article at q13fox.com <here>

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public relations basics

Most food truck’s across the country lack the cash to invest in an internal press staff, so as usual, this task is just one more job an already busy mobile food vendor needs to take care of themselves. So what is it that journalists want when you send them information about your food truck or an event you are going to be part of?

public relations basics

Check out our public relations basics list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts for pitching a story to the press about your food truck.

  1. DO some research and figure out the right reporter before you pitch a story. All reporters have beats and Associated Press also has national writers who specialize in certain areas, including business, entertainment, medicine, health, sports and lifestyles.
  2. DO make sure your story pitch is national in interest and sharply focused. AP is for national and international news. Stories about local food truck events and a new menu items developed by a local food truck aren’t AP stories — but they might be a better fit at a local publication.
  3. DO write succinct press releases, preferably with bullet points noting the time, place and date of the event and a FEW sentences explaining the “what” and “why” of the story. Every newsroom in America receives hundreds of press releases each day by fax and email. Long winded pitches fall through the cracks.
  4. DON’T shop your story around to multiple reporters at once. If one reporter turns down your pitch, it’s likely all reporters will turn it down. If a reporter can’t handle your pitch or it isn’t in their beat area but he or she thinks it has interest, the reporter will pass it along to the appropriate person. Please keep in mind, they talk to each other and pass along pitches all the time.
  5. DO tell reporters that if (despite no. 4) you’re sending a pitch to multiple people within the same newsroom. If a reporter begins a story based on a pitch, only to find out one or two other reporters in other departments or beats have done the same thing, this will make reporters more cautious the next time you pitch something.
  6. DON’T call to follow up on a pitch. If they are interested, they will call or email to let you know.
  7. DO take no for an answer. Nothing drives a reporter crazier than getting multiple pitches for the same story from the same person after they’ve said no once, twice or even three times or having a spokesperson argue on the phone over a “no” response. If you accept a no this time, maybe the next time they will work with you. If you drive them nuts when they are on deadline, that won’t happen.
  8. If you really have a great story, DON’T wait until the day before, or even two days before, to pitch it. The best stories may require a week or more of planning and reporting. Too often, pitches that could have been a good story, but we are first notified of them the day of the event or the day before. That’s just not enough time to turn around a story, alert all the editors, coordinate any video or photo coverage and edit the piece.
  9. DON’T assume you know everything about pitching the media. Media is ever changing and fast moving. With the proliferation of news sites on the Internet popping up daily, news comes in many forms and we can all learn a thing or two!
  10. DO be consistent and send news out regularly. One day your food truck story may be the one that gets chosen to follow.

If you and your food truck follow other rules that would fit into a list of public relations basics, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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menu food truck toronto

TORONTO, CANADA – Summer is the season for food trucks, but many vendors say despite the new regulations it’s still a challenge doing business in the city.

“That’s the hardest part. There is nowhere to park cause there are restaurants all over Toronto,” said Bryan Siu-Chong who is co-founder of MeNU Food Truck.

On Tuesday afternoon, MeNU Food Truck was parked along University, just outside Toronto General Hospital. When Global News was there, a security guard approached Siu-Chong at the truck to tell them they were not supposed to be there – apparently, because there was a food court in the hospital, they were violating the 50-metre rule.

Global News checked with City Hall’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department. We learned that MeNU was in the right place and did not have to move.

Carleton Grant is the Director of Policy and Strategic Support for the department. He said the rule is only for restaurants that are facing a street, not food courts inside a building.

“Now we need to educate the businesses, the parking lots , the hospitals the security guards, what the rules are,” said Grant.
When the city introduced the permit system it allowed for 125 permits at a cost of $5000 each. To date, only 14 permits have been picked up by gourmet food trucks.

Zane Caplansky owns a food truck and a restaurant, Caplansky’s Delicatessen. He says he opted not to get a permit. “It is the most expensive mobile vending permit in the world, and it’s useless.” Said Caplansky.

Find the entire article at globalnews.ca <here>

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iowa city food trucks

IOWA CITY, IA - Vendors were hammered with lunch orders on day one of the Iowa City food truck and mobile food vendor pilot program at Chauncey Swan Park.

Thursday marked the beginning of an experiment that will run through Oct. 31. The program is intended to test interest in allowing more mobile food vending permits, outside of six issued for the pedestrian mall.

Thursday’s vendors included Bread Garden Market’s gelato bicycle, Keepin’ Up with the Jones’s, Local Burrito and The Box Lunch.

Kyle Sieck, owner and chef at Local Burrito, said he ran out of food and needed more employees. Sieck said the rush could have been an “anomaly” due to the program’s novelty.

“That aside, I’m still really impressed that the community came out to support it on the first day,” he said.

Sieck said he is optimistic about the months ahead, and is excited to see how the students’ return to Iowa City affects business.

Sieck said he hopes to see officials keep working to make mobile vending in Iowa City more inclusive.

“I would just like to see a more comprehensive mobile vending ordinance and increase opportunities for us to be involved in the community,” he said. “The reason being we’re small businesses and entrepreneurs, and we can bring food to people at certain places and times where they aren’t currently being supplied.”

Jane McCune, of Blank & McCune real estate agency, said the location is a block from her office, making it a convenient lunch destination.

“I think (adding more food trucks) would be a good idea because I think there are plenty of people who are out and about, especially on the ped mall, and I think they would embrace the idea of eating local food outdoors,” she said.

Claire Myers, who works downtown, said she learned about the program through Twitter and came out to support local food.

“It’s convenient and obviously it’s worth a little more money to support local business,” she said.

Find the entire article at press-citizen.com <here>

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yuma city council

YUMA, AZ - The wheels of government are turning slowly as the city of Yuma seeks to find a happy middle ground to allowing food trucks to operate in the city.

That’s likely an impossible task. Yuma City Council members remained divided after a 1 1/2-hour discussion during Tuesday’s work session and another lengthy discussion at Wednesday’s meeting as they acted section by section on proposed revisions to the draft ordinance prepared by staff in an effort to address everyone’s concerns.

The proposed changes include requiring a minimum of 150 feet between a food vendor and the entrance to a brick-and-mortar restaurant; allowing food vendors to use generators but set the noise level at 55 decibels at a distance of 10 feet; and adding an interim category of food vendor for those who occupy a property as a primary user where an existing building is vacant.

But the one proposed change that drew the most discord would allow primary and interim users to leave their truck on the site, rather than having to remove it every night and set up again the next day.

Councilman Gary Knight took exception to that change, saying it takes away the council’s efforts to have a level playing field between mobile food vendors and brick-and-mortar restaurants.

“I liked the ordinance fine before,” he said. “If we make it a permanent restaurant on wheels, how about landscaping? We’re trying to make it like a restaurant, but it’s not.”

Brant Gordon, managing partner for Julieanna’s Patio Cafe, was the only representative of a brick-and-mortar restaurant to speak to the council. He said that local restaurants that provide hundreds of jobs are struggling with the weak economy while facing rising costs of doing business. He also noted that they were hurt by the opening of several chain restaurants at Yuma Palms Regional Center and the number of fast food restaurants in the community.

“Now there’s the potential food vendor ordinance I feel is unenforceable.”

He was asked by Councilman Edward Thomas if he was in favor of competition. Thomas then went on to reiterate that he believes allowing food vendors in the city would encourage new business and provide consumers with a choice about what and where they want to eat.

Find the entire article at yumasun.com <here>

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dine and dash food truck

KANKAKEE, IL - Farm fresh food is in demand, and two local food trucks are putting it on wheels.

Crème of the Crop and Dine and Dash seemed to have appeared around the same time, drawing Kankakee County into a nationwide phenomenon that has become synonymous with bourgeois convenience.

“I’ve seen the popular food trucks in Chicago, California and Denver, and I’ve been wanting to do this for years,” said Grant Glessner, 40, who runs Dine and Dash with his wife, Ronda. They were co-owners of the former Twig & Barry’s, a popular spot in Bourbonnais that closed last year.

“I was lucky to have family in Ohio that helped me buy this one,” Grant said. “We did some upgrades to comply with Illinois laws. And then we went out to find some local suppliers for fresh, natural foods.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Jackson, of Manteno, and Suzanne Nighswander, of Limestone, rolled out their new venture in May and have been a mainstay at the weekly farmers markets in Kankakee and Manteno.

“Sometimes we wanted to do events that didn’t have a well-equipped kitchen nearby,” Nighswander said. “Ryan had always liked the idea of a food truck, so we looked into what we needed to make it happen.”

The pair found a Wonder Bread truck, purchased new cooking equipment and created Crème of the Crop.

Find the entire article at daily-journal.com <here>

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