By Nicole Jennings | Photography by Karen Culp
As the story goes, the humble beginnings of the food truck industry can be traced back to 1872, when Rhode Island vendor Walter Scott parked his covered wagon outside of a newspaper office, serving up sandwiches and coffee to employees for lunch each day. The idea caught on, and others began to mimic his business model, launching fleets of lunch wagons in cities all over the country.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, when the modern-day food truck movement really got rolling. With inspiration from early industry adopters like LA-based chef Roy Choi, and the ability to use social media as an avenue for free marketing, aspiring but inexperienced or financially limited restaurateurs could begin their eatery in the relative safety of a truck. This route provided the opportunity to test their local market and give the restaurant biz a whirl, all without risking a large investment if it didn’t pan out.
By offering higher caliber menus than you’d expect from a restaurant on wheels and creating personal relationships between chef and patron, food trucks have continued to rise in popularity, and the trend seems to be here to stay.
But what’s the next step when you have a successful and lucrative food truck? Expand, of course.
Rather than mobilizing a fleet of trucks, food truck chefs often take what they’ve learned and make the jump to brick and mortar. They’ve developed their brand, their specialty, and a loyal following, so there’s no reason a well-placed stationary location couldn’t be just as, if not more, profitable.
Some of your favorite Chattanooga food trucks have done just that and done it well, learning the tricks of the trade along the way.