As Summer Gridlock Looms, a Guide for Food Trucks

by Wall Street Job Report on April 9, 2012

From New York Times:

You may think the food trucks of New York are all about goodies like those sweet chunks of lobster in soft potato buns from Red Hook Lobster Pound, or falafel with saffron aioli from the Taim Mobile truck. But food trucks also have a lot to do with battling for parking spots and standing in line — and, starting yesterday, they were all about a population explosion. That’s because Sunday — which some insisted on calling April Fool’s Day — was actually, in the mobile-food universe, The Day the Seasonal Vending Permits Began.

During the winter, a tentative street-parking equilibrium is established among the city’s year-round mobile vendors, more than 60 of them high-end food trucks. But the activation of the seasonal permits, valid from April 1 to Oct. 31, creates an instant street scrum. Most of the seasonal vendors are soft-serve ice-cream trucks, said David Weber, the president of the New York City Food Truck Association, and a founder and owner of the four Rickshaw Dumpling trucks, two brick-and-mortar Rickshaw restaurants and one Times Square Rickshaw kiosk.

Street parking is “thrown into turmoil,” he said, as tension between vendors (as well as enforcement by the New York Police Department) ratchets up. In New York, truck parking is extremely limited, and finding spots on the street “will be next to impossible for food trucks,” he added. Meanwhile, ever more New Yorkers are clamoring for trucks with haute food — and ever more new entries are in the pipeline.

The timing is good, then, for Mr. Weber’s first effort as an author: “The Food Truck Handbook.” A 265-page primer for aspirational mobile vendors, to be published on Tuesday by John Wiley & Sons, it has the subtitle “Start, Grow and Succeed in the Mobile Food Business.” The book offers 32 chapters on matters like selecting a food concept, choosing a logo, raising money, buying a truck, creating a menu and reaching customers through social media.

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