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PHILADELPHIA, PA – Last week, I heard that Philadelphia was getting the Philadelphia Public History Truck. I wasn’t sure what a Philadelphia Public History Truck was, or why a Philadelphia Public History Truck was something that Philadelphia needed, so I reached out to its co-founder, 28-year-old South Jersey native and Temple graduate student Erin Bernard, to find out.

Philly Public History Truck
Image from phillymag.com | Mark Krendel

So what the heck is the Philadelphia Public History Truck?
It’s a mobile museum going from neighborhood to neighborhood in Philadelphia, and the idea behind it is that instead of having a public history exhibit where academics have constructed it, the exhibit is community curated. So all of the community members are invited to come together and contribute and share their stories and objects to put into an exhibit.

Why haven’t I seen this on the street yet?
Right now, we’re in our first exhibit cycle in East Kensington. I’ve done oral history interviews, and I have objects that community members have given me. We’re doing a storytelling block party and First Friday at the Little Berlin fairgrounds in October, where I’ll be serving apple cider and pie and taking oral histories.

So when you say it’s a history truck, are we talking like a food truck, a semi?
The truck was a post office truck. Then it was a water ice truck. And we acquired it through the East Kensington Neighbors Association. The president of EKNA, Jeff Carpineta, he gave it to us. He’s been incredibly helpful. I love the truck. It says “Touch of Philly” on the front.

Find the entire article by Victor Fiorilla at The Philly Post <here>

Charles goodnight

Cattleman and inventor Charles Goodnight was born on March 5th in Texas. As a tribute to the man who may be the one individual most responsible for the food truck industry we have today we have put a short biography together for you.

Charles Goodnight: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Charlie Goodnight, also known as Charlie, was born with the Texas Revolution. He came to the state from Missouri the year Texas entered statehood, and, later, with a handful of men, invented the American ranching industry and the chuck wagon. He is sometimes known as the “father of the Texas Panhandle.” Essayist and historian J. Frank Dobie said that Charles Goodnight “approached greatness more nearly than any other cowman of history.”

The chuck wagon (a cowboy’s portable kitchen wagon used on the cattle trails) was invented by Goodnight in 1866 by using an army surplus Studebaker wagon to create what is considered by many as the first food truck. Goodnight purchased the government wagon and had it completely rebuilt according to his specifications in seasoned bois d’arc, the toughest wood available.

The distinguishing feature of the wagon was the sloping box on the rear with hinged lid that lowered to become a cook’s worktable. The box was fitted to the width of the wagon and contained shelves and drawers for holding food and utensils. Since early 17th Century England, individuals involved in the meat business referred to a lower priced part of the beef carcass as the “chuck.” To the cowboys, “chuck” was food, so the box was called a chuck box and the wagon became known as a chuck wagon.

charles goodnightMost chuck wagons had the same basic design. They were large, sturdy, four-wheeled wagons with bows across the top covered with waterproof sheets. There was usually a cowhide stretched beneath the wagon bed and fastened at the corners; it was used to carry wood or cow chips.

Chuck wagon food was comprised of black-eyed peas, beans, corn and cabbage. Of course, there was lots of beef and bison steaks and stews spiced with chilies, garlic, and onion or the occasional catfish or shrimp caught from the rivers, lakes or coastal waters. Sourdough breads (sourdough bullets), quick biscuits, skillet corn bread and cowboy coffee were served with the meals.

The chuck wagon was drawn by oxen or mules. The wagon usually carried food, eating utensils, a water barrel, as well as tools and bed rolls, all tucked away in drawers and shelves and covered by a canvas covering. A hinged counter that folded out was used for chopping and preparing the food.

Without the chuckwagon’s creation by Charles Goodnight, not only would the trek Westward changed, but who knows if there would be a mobile food industry like we have today.

More on Charles Goodnight can be found at PBS.org <here>

 

ups-natural-gas-truckNEW YORK (AP) — New York City is getting its first food truck fully powered by compressed natural gas.

Proponents say it’s easier on the environment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Texas oil and gas investor T. Boone Pickens are discussing the details Thursday at City Hall Park in Manhattan.

How does natural gas compare to diesel?

CNG LNG

Available in compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG), with near-zero emissions, natural gas engines are not only quieter than their diesel counterparts, they’re also decidedly cleaner. Switching to natural gas translates to potentially significant fuel cost savings: As the price of diesel continues to rise, the cost of natural gas remains relatively lower and stable. Federal and state vehicle tax credits—as well as infrastructure tax credits available to green fleets—can greatly reduce acquisition costs.

Is natural gas better for the environment?

By implementing natural gas-powered products, you’re doing your part to help the environment. Some of these new engines reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) up to 20%. By investing in a natural gas-powered vehicle, you’re greening-up your bottom line and the environment.

Forget Panda Express.The latest in airport dining is food that comes a truck.

airports food truck trend
The Cheesesteak Truck can be found at Tampa International Airport once every week. (Christine Osborn)

It was really just a matter of time. Food trucks have invaded nearly every city in America. Why should the airports — the first glimpse travelers get of the cities they’re visiting — be left out?

A few airports have recently brought food trucks to their cell phone parking lots. Orlando International has six food trucks at its commercial lot and taxi staging area. One — Los Angeles International — even has plans to build a structure that looks like a food truck in Terminal 4, rotating the offerings from the city’s most popular food trucks.

Tampa International has the most robust offering. The program started in mid-November as a way to service the throngs of people waiting in the cell phone parking lot to pick up loved ones during the busy holiday travel season. The 30-day trial was such a success that the airport has extended the program through August, with a new food truck every day. There’s the Cheesesteak Truck, serving the obvious; Nicos Arepas Grill, serving Venezuelan arepas and chachapas; the Dude and His Food, serving burgers, hot dogs and the like; Graffeaties, serving global street food; and several more in the rotation.

And while the program has been successful from a customer-service standpoint, it’s “not a money-making initiative for us,” said Christine Osborn, communications manager for Tampa International Airport. “But it’s really caught on, and customers love it.”

It is, however, making money for someone. Tom Bradley owns the Cheesesteak Truck, the featured food truck at Tampa International that’s there once a week. “At first I wasn’t sure how it would do, but it’s been great for business,” he said while ringing up a customer who was purchasing a cheesesteak. “When you’re on a street corner, you get the lunch crowd, but that’s pretty much it. Here we have a steady stream of business most of the day.

“My favorite are flight delays,” he said, remembering a particularly busy day around Christmas when snowstorms in the North were keeping people waiting for hours in the cell phone lots for loved ones.

The food truck at Austin – Bergstrom International Airport in Texas is also a recent addition: Twist of Spice — serving Tex-Mex, paninis and salads — arrived in the cell phone lot last month. Airport spokesman Jim Halbrook said the pilot program’s been well-received. “The feedback’s been all favorable,” he said. “There are picnic tables to eat at, it’s very pleasant.”

Find the entire article about the new Food Trucks at Airports Trend by Genevieve Shaw Brown at abcnews.go.com

More Food Truck Trend

 

Numerous food truck vendors have joined Pinterest, the popular visual bookmarking tool. Unfortunately  there are plenty that are making mistakes along the way as they try to figure out how to use the site for marketing their food trucks.

pinterest dos and donts

Pinterest, which launched in 2010, has grown to more than 11 million users. Every day, people use the website to “pin” images and videos to their personal pin boards so they can save and share the things they love. The site gets social when people follow each other and repin or comment on each other’s pins.

The vast majority of Pinterest users are women between the ages of 25 and 34, so it’s a natural place for mobile food business to spend time if they want to connect with that target audience. If you are wondering how to use it, it is easy to get creative inspiration by reviewing other food truck pinboards.

With that in mind, here are some Pinterest do’s and don’ts to help you use the site to promote your mobile food business.

Do’s

Tell stories and tap into emotions. Pinterest is a place for storytelling. Help consumers become emotionally connected to your food truck brand by pinning content that reveals more about your brand personality than just your menu items.

Get social and build relationships. Pinterest is a social destination, so get involved with its community. Find active Pinterest members and build relationships with them by following them, repinning their content and commenting on their pins. The commenting feature in Pinterest is still greatly underutilized, and you can stand out by using it frequently.

Create group pinboards and crowdsource. You don’t have to go it alone on Pinterest. Create group pinboards and invite other users to pin content to those boards. For example, ask customers to pin pictures of them before they eat one of your menu items or while they wait in line to give their order. You also could hold a contest to crowdsource pins. Ask customers to review your food on your website and pin a quote from their review to a special contest pinboard. You benefit from more reviews and a pinboard that’s filled with testimonials.

Don’ts

Use pinterest for direct marketing. Pinterest states that the site should not be used for direct marketing, advertising or sales. Excessive and overt self-promotion is clearly unacceptable, so make sure you’re pinning diverse content, not just pictures of your menu items. You need to get creative and use Pinterest for indirect marketing.

Forget who the Pinterest audience is. Approximately three out of four Pinterest users are currently women. While the site is beginning to attract more male users, you shouldn’t waste time pinning a lot of content that women are unlikely to be interested in.

Pin anything and everything. Cluttering your pinboards with everything you think people might like is a mistake. Just as people don’t like to sift through clutter in search engine results and on websites, they don’t want to be overwhelmed on Pinterest. Stay focused, but don’t be afraid to pin interesting content that your target audience would enjoy and that’s at least loosely connected to your food truck business. This type of content can help give your brand more personality.

 

Many new food truck entrepreneurs try to keep their existing job until their food truck is established and begins generating enough income to pay the bills. The problem with this philosophy is that starting your food truck business before you quit your job isn’t easy.

juggling jobs

While you juggle your existing job and your new mobile food business, keep these points in mind:

Put Your Existing Job First

Always remember that until you hand in your resignation, your existing job comes first. Before moving ahead with your business plans, make sure you understand the responsibilities and work hours involved in running a food truck.

Balance Your Time

Operating a food truck takes a lot of time. Between the food purchasing, food prep, operation of the truck in addition to all of the marketing and communication involved, many truck owners wish they had more time. Start slow, this may mean operating the truck on weekends or at food truck events to start. This will allow you to concentrate on your job without taking away from your ability to build your food truck brand.

Also, try to meet on weekends with suppliers, potential employees and other people related to your mobile food company. This will help you avoid potential conflicts with your work hours. Avoid the temptation to meet with people before work. Traffic jams and other unpredictable delays can make you late for your job.

Inform Your Employer

If you think your employer will be receptive, tell your employer that you’re starting your own food truck business. That will make it easier to talk to your supervisor about changing your work schedule if you need more flexible hours.

Use Your Own Equipment

Never use your employer’s phones, computers or other equipment or supplies for business related to your own company. If you don’t have a smartphone, invest in one now. Use it during breaks at your job to answer e-mail and make phone calls related to your food truck.

Prepare Your Family

Prepare your family for the prospect that you’ll be working on your new mobile venture on weekends and into the evenings on some weeknights.

Be Patient

Stay focused on your job while you’re at work. You may need that job longer than you expect. You can’t predict how long it will take to get your food truck established.

Did you start your food truck while still employed? Share your tips on how to balance them in the comment section below.

 

BOSTON, MA – The food trucks that roam the streets of Boston have claimed their top spots for the official start of the city’s mobile vending season.

roxys food truck boston
image from boston.cbslocal.com

More than 50 food truck vendors participated in the city’s annual live lottery of prime sites on Jan. 16 where Edith Murnane, the city’s director of food initiatives, drew names of vendors who then chose shifts at 17 locations throughout the city.

The truck vendors, which offer a variety of fare, will begin serving at their chosen sites and times in April, which is the official start of the 2013 food truck season.

The City of Boston passed the Mobile Food Truck Ordinance in April 2011, launching the Mobile Food Truck Pilot. Under this pilot, 15 public sites were opened in downtown Boston and Boston’s neighborhoods to 15 food truck vendors.

Since Boston’s the 2011 launch, the number of vendors and trucks on the streets has grown steadily. In 2012, 16 new truck businesses and 23 new trucks began operating in Boston, according the city.

The city has also established a total of 18 public sites, including three cluster sites that allow two or three food trucks to operate at a time.

“I’m thrilled that Boston’s food truck program has grown so quickly and has expanded to such a diverse selection of vendors,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. “My administration has worked vigorously to allow these local businesses grow while providing the public with delicious, healthy, and accessible food.”

The schedule for the public sites as determined by the lottery is available here.

Find the original article by Johanna Kaiser at boston.com <here>

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Kwasi Boyd has wrapped vehicles with printed vinyl for more than a decade. Lately, his business has gotten a big lift.

Custome Vehicle WrapsBehind the boom is the rising number of food trucks in the Bay Area. Mr. Boyd’s Emeryville-based business, Custom Vehicle Wraps Inc., covers vehicles with wallpaper-like material, which is an alternative to paint jobs, charging around $6,000 to wrap a 30-foot truck. In the past three years, food trucks have become more than 40% of his business, and their numbers are growing much faster than the tour buses and sports cars he otherwise works on, he says.

“It’s pretty crazy,” says Mr. Boyd, 41 years old, who says he wrapped six food trucks through the first seven days of 2013 and has brought on five people to help him. “There are times where I had to do 10 trucks at once.”

Mr. Boyd is one of many small-business owners in the Bay Area who are benefiting from the proliferation of these trucks, which cook and serve an assortment of gourmet street foods, such as Korean tacos, oven-blistered pizzas and Indian sandwiches. Parking-lot operators, hardware stores, graphic designers and mobile-kitchen makers are also getting new business.

There are no official statistics on the number of food trucks in the Bay Area, but the landscape shows evidence of rapid growth.

Matt Cohen, who runs the popular “Off the Grid” food-truck gatherings and a consulting business for food trucks, says there were five gourmet food trucks in San Francisco when he started his company in June 2010. “We work with 100 trucks a week now,” he says. “We expect that to grow to 200 by the end of the year.”

Others in the industry have placed the number of food trucks in the Bay Area at more than 250.

As a result, Mr. Cohen hired five full-time employees to help him organize and run food-truck events in 2011 and added 13 more last year, including a demographer who figures out where the best places are to hold new events. (The answer: areas with lots of 25- to 45-year-old professionals that are accessible via public transportation and have other businesses nearby.) He plans to double his staff again this year.

Meanwhile, El Monte Catering Trucks, which puts kitchens in used delivery trucks, moved from Los Angeles to San Jose four years ago because it sensed that there was a growing market for food trucks in the Bay Area, says Yari Garcia Lyndsey, its manager.

Find the entire article by Ben Worthen at The Wall Street Journal <here>

 

food truck posing tips

Outside of the food itself, much of the attraction to the mobile food industry is the fun, colorful designs that food truck owners have wrapped their trucks in. Many food truck owners have numerous pictures taken of their truck by professionals and non-professionals alike. Some will even take the photos themselves to use for their marketing materials.

To capture exciting and interesting photography of a food truck, you must understand how to pose the truck just as you would pose a person as the first step in composing a portrait photograph. Many of the specific techniques are similar, in that you want to shoot from the best angle to show the truck (person) at its best and be very attentive of all the little details of how the truck is “dressed” and “groomed.” This article will explore a number of food truck posing tips for great food truck photos.

Food Truck Posing Tips
A Clean Machine

It should go without saying, but just to provide you with a complete checklist: The vehicle you photograph should be thoroughly cleaned, polished, and even detailed before you line up your shot. This includes the interior and engine compartment if you plan to photograph them. In addition, check that all the external parts are attached securely.

Strike a Pose

The location(s) you’ve selected to photograph the food truck has a major impact on how you pose the vehicle in the location, which is all the more reason you need to understand the posing techniques below. It’s best to start with photos from a front (right or left) 45-degree angle. These could include a low-angle at 45 degrees, a high angle closer to the vehicle with the camera moved towards a head-on shot and two angles in the opposite direction from 45 degrees towards a side-on shot.

To find the best position of the truck for your photos, you must take into account a number of factors.

  • direction of the light
  • light reflections
  • background and the space around vehicle

As with most outdoor photography, you want the sun behind you or behind you and to either side. This can be an interesting lighting angle. The camera is on a diagonal angle from the left or right headlight and the sun is at an angle that spills the light down the side towards the camera. Look carefully for unwanted reflections on the body and the glass of the windows. Then, re-position the truck just enough to reduce their effect.

Truck Background

As you are deciding where to park your subject, you must also be constantly checking the background.
The space around the vehicle, is also important. First, you want enough space to move closer and further for wider and tighter views, and even to shoot some images with a telephoto lens. You also want to be sure there is plenty of space in front of and behind the truck, which helps to emphasize and enlarge the appearance of the space on either side of the vehicle.

The other front angle and two rear angles are photographed much the same, except you turn the vehicle 180 degrees or into any position, so the sunlight is hitting that side and the background still looks good. You also move the truck to shoot direct front, rear and side views. Another variation is to shoot every angle with the wheels straight and with one full turn to display the wheel design.

We hope these food truck posing tips allow you to provide the best photos of your food truck to maximize the wrap you have spent so much time developing.

Do you have additional food truck posing tips for your fellow food truckers? We’d love to hear them. You can share them with us via email, Facebook or Twitter.

promote your food truck

To promote your food truck requires a vendor’s personal interaction with potential customers to create interest in your mobile food business. Since “potential customers” include current customers that may become repeat visitors, promotion can happen inside as well as outside of the truck.

Try some of these tactics to promote your food truck business:
Contact local organizations

The first of our tips to promote your food truck is to work with local business organizations. Ask the chamber of commerce or the convention center for a list of contact information for organizations, such as service organizations, unions, political organizations, etc. Call them and tell them about your truck. Offer to cater their meetings and parties at a good discount.

Get access to bulk discounts and deals on your business expenses with a membership to NFIB. Save on services and tools that you use every day!

Make friends with the right people

Try to be on good terms with people who come in contact with tourists or big groups. Examples are hotel staff, concierge services, event coordinators at hotels or convention centers, tour guides, gas station attendants, car rental employees, etc.

Train employees in personal selling

Any employee of your food truck can get involved with personal selling. Train your service window staff members as well as all of your on-board truck staff to engage in personal selling outside of the truck. Provide them with business cards or promotional materials, which they can distribute to prospective customers. This will help boost sales, and it will also increase your employees’ enthusiasm.

Pitch to local companies

You can speak personally with the human resources (HR) managers or appropriate personnel at any companies or factories that are in your local area to see if they are interested in setting up a truck stop on their property or having you cater a meeting or event.

Follow up personally with customers

You can do this both inside and outside of the food truck. After customers finish their meal, it is never a bad idea for the owner or truck manager to speak with them, thanking them and asking if they were satisfied with everything. You can also follow up on customer service issues. For example, if customers fill out a comment card and leave negative comments, you could call them to apologize for their negative experience and offer to make up for it next time by fixing the problem and giving them a discount.

Vend at local events

Personally attend local arts or culinary festivals where you can vend or hand out samples. Talk to the event goers and tell them why they should try out your food truck. Even if you do not create any immediate sales, you will create awareness and get your truck’s name out there.

Be friendly, not pushy

Whenever you are talking to a prospective customer, show excitement about what you have to offer, but be easy-going. If they are not very receptive of your pitch, do not irritate them further.

Use good body language

Any time you are in public, you should represent your mobile food business with your image. One way to do this is to use good body language. Make eye contact, smile and do not cross your arms. If you are talking to someone on the phone, smile while you are doing it, because the smile will come through in your voice.

Get involved with the community

The more activities you are personally involved with, the more people you will meet. Almost every person you meet is a new potential customer. You do not need to turn your whole social life into a sales pitch, but you can make a point of good-naturedly mentioning your food truck to friends and new acquaintances.

Hand out flyers, menus or coupons

The final of our tips to promote your food truck relates to branded collateral. People are more receptive to promotional materials that come directly from a person. Instead of putting flyers and posters on cars or stuffing them in mailboxes, try handing them out in person. As you or your employees hand out pamphlets and coupons, they can make a good impression by using good body language and friendly sales techniques.

How do you promote your food truck? We’d love to hear new tips. You can share them via email, Facebook or Twitter.

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