(OCTAVIO JONES | Times, Tampa)
TAMPA, FL – A little air has gone out of the tires of the social-media-fueled, counter-culture revolution on wheels.
Stringent government regulations, increasing consumer sophistication and the reality of long, hard hours have cooled the food truck frenzy, both for starry-eyed would-be vendors and the hungry hoards they serve.
Since June 2, Craigslist.com has listed 21 used food trucks for sale in the Tampa Bay area. If you broaden that search to Central Florida, several dozen more trucks crowd the list board, from Blue Bird school buses to workhorse Grumman Olson vans. The requirements of compostable cutlery and detailed business plans have also dampened some of the fervor of rogue upstarts in cities like Vancouver, British Columbia, and Los Angeles.
Sure, there are plenty of Tampa Bay trucks doing a robust business, like Wicked Wiches, which now has three trucks, and cult favorite Burger Culture. The granddaddy of them all, Taco Bus, which boasts four brick-and-mortar spots and a mobile unit, is known nationally among food truck aficionados.
But others haven’t fared as well.
Jeremy Gomez ticks off names of Tampa’s original food trucks that have already closed or changed hands: Fire Monkey lasted only nine months; the Hogfather BBQ truck is for sale; Keeping it Reel recently sold, as did American Wiener. Gomez is one of the organizers of an August rally at the Florida Fairgrounds that’s attempting to break a world record by gathering 100 trucks.
Rallies draw big crowds, but things are tougher here for individual trucks on the streets. The Tampa Bay area is a car culture spread out across a broad metro area, and food trucks rely on foot traffic. Even the most intrepid local pedestrian may falter in summer’s heat, humidity and afternoon storms. Plus, said Gomez, Tampa diners have a long tradition of patronizing chains and familiar fast-food giants.
Find the entire article by Laura Reiley at Tampabay.com <here>