NEW YORK, NY – Amy Maureen Yee had all the trappings of a Brooklyn wedding. An off-white lace dress that was a remake of a vintage gown. Bundles of tulips grown by her and the groom.
And food trucks serving huaraches, schnitzel and dumplings on paper plates.
“We started to look at traditional caterers and the costs were just crazy,” said Ms. Yee, who got married last month in the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. For a third of the price she hired three food trucks instead.
Street sales aren’t the only source of revenue for the gourmet food trucks that have taken the city by storm in a few years. Some are deriving as much as half of their income from catering and rentals.
They cater everything from weddings to bar mitzvahs to movie and television crews filming on the street. Food trucks also are being hired by businesses to woo corporate clients.
Some are even papered over with ads to promote products ranging from Coach bags to airlines to corporate food chains.
“We have a major company that is looking to us to promote their brand,” said Grant Di Mille, president and co-founder of Sweetery, which has three trucks. “How interesting is that? That a company with 250-plus retail locations, a multimillion-dollar company, is coming to us to promote their brand.”
The expansion of food trucks underscores how quickly this independent band of meals-on-wheels has evolved into recognizable brands. Some of the most successful trucks, such as Schnitzel & Things, have opted to open brick-and-mortar restaurants. Because catering and corporate events often involve a service charge or slightly higher prices, they are more profitable than street sales.
There is no official count for the number of food trucks in the city but David Weber, co-owner of the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck and president of a newly formed trade group representing them, estimates there are 40 to 50 gourmet-food trucks. Rickshaw, which began as a restaurant, now has four trucks and just opened a second restaurant.
“Weddings have been really good for us,” said Mr. Weber, whose truck was at Ms. Yee’s wedding. “Bat mitzvahs are also really popular.”
Some in the industry say the interest in rentals and catering was a surprise. David Belanich, an owner of the Joyride truck, which sells coffee and frozen yogurt, said that once the weather got warm the calls started streaming in.
“At first it was the films, we worked on ‘Arbitrage,'” he said, referring to the Richard Gere movie. “We got a call at 4:30 p.m. and they wanted us in the Bronx at 2:30 a.m. We did a couple of pilots. It’s been crazy recently.”
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