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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Business

Adam Housley

Los Angeles, CA

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Food Truck Revolution

December 28, 2010 - 1:02 PM | by: Adam Housley

Drifting down the sidewalk on a crisp winter day, the smell of ‘borek’ eases in through the doorways and alley’s not of a neighborhood in Armenia, but in an area thousands of miles away on LA’s westside. In fact, depending on the day and how well you monitor your ‘Twitter’ and ‘facebook’ accounts, you can grab food from every corner of the globe on street corners and curbs in a neighborhood near you.

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On this day the smell of ‘The Hungry Nomad’ grabbed our senses and for desert, the ‘Lake Street Creamery’ pulled-up alongside. Both are newer trucks on the gourmet on wheels food scene, but then again…aren’t most trucks?
If you are one of the few who hasn’t yet been overrun by ‘Let’s Be Frank’, or ‘The Icycle Bicycle’ for example, then driver beware….the drive-in has a whole new meaning.

This isn’t your dad’s taco or hot dog cart, these are high-end ventures followed by millions of facebook, twitter, etc.
We have two amazing trucks and two of the more popular thriving in the LA culture for our live reports. We met up with them and also Ross Resnick from roaminghunger.com, one of the websites that has become the yellow book for food trucks around the country. Ross tells me, “It was the struggling economy that kick started the gourmet food truck movement— people began to feel financial pressure to eat cheaper, but were not willing to sacrifice the quality of their meals. Essentially, most people were willing to trade the atmosphere of ‘table and chair’ dining for the curb, as long as the quality of their meal is top notch.”

Roaming Hunger profiles and tracks over 540 food trucks and carts nationwide (including Vancouver BC) and features a live map which displays truck locations in real time based on their last tweet. You can also sign up for daily alerts to inform you of which trucks are nearest to you at any given meal time.

Different cities have different food truck cultures- in LA and NY, the meals are mobile— whereas in Vancouver, Austin, Portland and San Francisco— there are fixed spots and stable schedules that rotate weekly or not at all. LA is moving toward the fixed schedule model with the introduction of the letter grade system and Chicago is currently battling over whether to allow the food trucks at all!

Speaking of ratings, Zagat also has gotten involved and now not only rates food trucks, but has an interactive map to find them, as major restaurants and gourmet chef’s across the country move their kitchens onto the streets as the multi-million dollar food truck industry rages nationwide. Some cities like Los Angeles are now going to rate the trucks for cleanliness like they do restaurants and everyone is scrambling to not only meet the demand, but follow the industry and grab the customer who is looking for good food, quick, easy and of course affordable.

So how much does this all cost? By most estimates expect to drop a cool 75-thousand at the least and some trucks have spent much more to get their food on the road. There’s also the ability to work social networks and find the next hot spot. What are your favorites? Where are the best spots in your town/city? What do you think of this whole craze? Should food trucks be allowed?

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