Food trucks offer eclectic tastes, independence and opportunities

By Nikki Schoenbeck nikki@opcfla.com
Posted 7/14/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – As food trucks continue to grow in popularity, owners are looking forward to finding exciting and creative ways to draw in customers. One of the ways owners of food trucks are …

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Food trucks offer eclectic tastes, independence and opportunities

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – As food trucks continue to grow in popularity, owners are looking forward to finding exciting and creative ways to draw in customers. One of the ways owners of food trucks are building a good customer base is by participating in Food Truck Fridays.

Despite the constant threat of rain, multiple food trucks braved the storms in order to support their work. Each truck is unique and offers its own twist to tasty items customers might enjoy. The chefs all have their own personality that not only shows through the food they serve but also how they design their truck. Oftentimes the chefs start in restaurants before gaining independence by hitting the road with their own truck.

Although the trucks may seem to be in competition with each other, the reality is the food truck business is a tight-knit community. In fact, “Food truck cliques” will typically form within the food truck where groups of food truck owners become friends with each other.

Friendship is a key component to the success of food truck owners. By befriending other owners, running into challenges like running out of ingredients or

finding locations for the food trucks doesn’t become as daunting of a task. While food truck owners do form their own friendship cliques within each other, the community of food trucks is overall supportive.

Jen Ochoa, the owner of Daddy’O’s, describes the community of food trucks.

“While it is very competitive, it’s more community-based. I would say it’s community over competition at the end of the day. We have a really strong food truck family and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter about the numbers, it matters us being like ‘hey are you good, do you need anything?’ We’re more of a family than we are competition,” Ochoa said.

While the goal of serving the community is all the same for food trucks, the origins of how the chefs came to own a food truck are all unique. Some grew tired of the corporate world and decided to become their own boss. Others started immediately in the food truck business and haven’t looked back.

Austin Heinman and Jordan Perry, owners of Brochachos, have been friends since high school.

“We started at the beginning of last year,” Jordan Perry said. “The other food trucks have been really helpful. They let us know what places are good, where to go, how to get started… We’re a pretty tight-knit community.”

When the COVID-19 shutdowns put a halt to restaurant businesses, food trucks were still able to operate. At the height of the pandemic, food trucks were at an advantage since they were not forced to shut down like restaurants. Food truck owners also had an advantage by being able to take their business to the people. For most food trucks, the pandemic was seen as an opportunity to reach various neighborhood communities and build more customer relationships.

But for some owners, the pandemic delivered a serious hit on their business.

Michael Coughlin, owner of Cafe Ybor!, struggled to grow back in popularity after the pandemic.

“Our business was corporate, primarily corporate lunches. We did Samson, Apple, all those guys. So, when they got shut down, we had no business,” Coughlin said. “We did start doing neighborhoods, a lot of people started doing neighborhoods and did well. We did OK and we tried doing a lot of breweries, too. But then they got shut down and that was like the kiss of death for us. So from September of last year, it was like starting our business all over again and making all the connections.”

The food truck business isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and creativity but if a person does want to start a food truck, they can rest assured other trucks will be there to have their back.

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