LOUISVILLE, KY – For nearly two decades until 2011, Phil Goldsborough operated the Longshot Tavern on Frankfort Avenue, then gambled $40,000 to open his Longshot Lobsta food truck in 2013.
For the first day of business, “we did a trolley hop on Frankfort Avenue and didn’t do anything. It was dead,” Goldsborough said. “I went home with my head in my hands. I thought I was in the wrong business.”
The next day Goldsborough parked in the Highlands and found fans of his $10 sandwich of fresh lobster salad on a butter Coney roll “all lined up. We had all these folks coming up to the trailer.”
By the end of last year, Goldsborough grossed $140,000 on lobster sandwiches and lobster bisque. While poor weather is the bane of every food trucker, the 54-year-old widower said he is making a living and enjoying his freedom from a lifetime behind the bar.
“It’s simple. It’s fast. You can feed people quick,” he said.
From a handful a few years ago, food trucks have become firmly established downtown in Louisville, where lunch seekers reliably find them weekdays on Fifth at Jefferson Streets, outside Slugger Field on Preston at Witherspoon or on Jackson near University Hospital. Online tracking also helps followers find their favorite eats, including Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, the websites of the Louisville Street Food Alliance, the Louisville Food Truck Association and the Courier-Journal’s Food Truck Louisville webpage and mobile app.
Wherever hungry people congregate, food truckers come out in force. You can find them at farmers markets, like the Douglass Loop Farmers Market on Bardstown Road at Douglass on Saturdays or the monthly Flea Off Market in NuLu at 1007 East Jefferson St. Many like MozziPi wood-fired pizza truck and Pollo, a gourmet fried chicken truck, also ply their trade at weddings and private events while some like JGoodwins Fusion Grill find customers in suburban office parks.
Food truckers have also become crucial at festivals and at creating buzz around economic development. On Tuesday, Mayor Greg Fischer relied on food trucks to spur Fourth Street foot traffic for the opening of Guthrie Street between Chestnut Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The lunchtime “Food Truck Roundup” on a formerly deserted 1970s plaza helped Guthrie Street become “an important venue for large outdoor events downtown,” said Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership.