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Kitchens for Food Trucks

Slauson Commissary offers food trucks prep kitchens!

Full prep mobile food facilities in California are amazingly self sufficient. When used in conjunction with a commissary (which is the law: CA Code 114295) they can operate without a licensed prep kitchen. In Los Angeles a food truck’s ability to operate independent of a kitchen is important due to the lack of kitchen facilities currently available to caterers and food trucks. As we all know, most kitchens are limited to restaurant use. However, some food trucks have found that with their growing commitments in catering, festivals and standard street service, they can hardly keep up the pace needed to supply their food truck. Luckily there are now some options!

The day to day of running a food truck can be exhausting, especially when all of your prep has to be done in a 16 foot standard food truck kitchen. When vendors aren’t selling, their acquiring product or prepping that product for their next shift. In the Summer when festivals and other outdoor food events are available most food trucks have to say no to some opportunities because they have to resupply or spend time prepping on the truck. Obviously, it would be best if busy food truckers were on the streets selling while also acquiring product and getting the prep done.  There are some options, but typically they do not cater to food trucks. The kitchens are too far from commissaries where trucks park or too expensive.

Now there are catering kitchens located at a popular commissary in Los Angeles. The distance between kitchen and where the trucks park are mere feet away and you’ll be able to accept deliveries of product directly to your kitchen. The kitchens range from $1500-$2500 a month so you’ll have to determine whether the additional cost is worth the convenience. For many trucks, this is a game changer. It will allow them to prep and receive product while out servicing customers. Instead of breaking to do prep, the truck can come back by the kitchen and resupply. Slauson Catering (750 E. Slauson Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90011), a well known food truck commissary in South LA now has kitchens available.

We’re hoping to see more opportunities for food trucks to rent usable prep kitchens for their operations. It’s nice to see a food truck commissary provide a service that is needed in the food truck industry.

To inquire call or email: Luis Cruz luis@aacatertruck.com DSC_1098(323) 235-6659 

Capital City Food Truck Convention!

How do I start a food truck?

The Capital City Food Truck Convention is a two day mobile vending conference for food truck operators, suppliers and public health officials that will be held on March 12th and 13th of 2016. (For more info click here: http://www.dmvfta.org/convention/) The most asked question on the comment section of this site is, “How do I start a food truck?” The answer: “Educate yourself.” The Capital City Food Truck Convention curriculum covers everything that the aspiring mobile vendor needs as well as connecting suppliers with the new industry.  The convention is organized, attended and supported by food truck operators and Food Truck Associations. Many of the other conventions are not organized by an actual food truck association or even a food truck operator. The two day conference utilizes speakers and panels from industry professionals to educate and inform the mobile vending industry.  Because the curriculum is curated by actual food truck operators and associations, the information is the most relevant to new and current food truck operators. All of the sessions have a Q & A component and attendees are encouraged to participate in the discussion.

The inaugural Capital City Food Truck Convention was last year in DC.  Attendees and speakers came from all over the Country to discuss mobile vending issues, regulations, advocacy and special events.  The discussions did not end at the end of the day’s speakers sessions, rather they continued on into the evening informally.  This year National Food Truck Association will partner with the District Maryland and Virginia Food Truck Association to add a workshop for aspiring food truck association organizers.

The food truck industry is seeing monumental growth.  However, since the industry issues are so regional it’s sometimes hard to focus on the bigger picture. With a conference like the Capital City Food Truck Convention, food truck operators and associations can get together and discuss issues going on nationwide. This gives individual operators and potential operators a better understanding of what they may face in the future as well as some solutions to issues they face now.  As cities start opening up their streets to food trucks, it’s nice to see how the other areas of the country have adapted. Discussions with representatives from some of the older markets can really prepare newer trucks and regions to deal with issues that will arise.

Please come talk to me during the conference and at the planned evening events. I would love to hear all about your food truck, your city issues and anything else you’d like to discuss.

Matt Geller
SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association
National Food Truck Association


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Supporting Independents

Supporting Independents

Food trucks paving the way

The New York times recently released a 52 places to go in 2014 list. Downtown Los Angeles ranked number five in the world of must-see places. Say that last line out loud because it’s hard to believe.  Because of its incredible food scene, Downtown LA is a must-see destination for world and local travelers. How did Downtown Los Angeles and LA in general become such food mecca? The answer is simple, Los Angeles and California in general, support independent food producers and sellers.

In 1978, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Direct Marketing Act that allowed for Certified Farmers Markets (CFMs) to sell their own produce to consumers in locations that were deemed appropriate by the Department of Agriculture.  The first Farmers Market in Los Angeles was sponsored by the Interfaith Hunger Coalition in 1979 in a small parking lot consisting of 4 vendors in Gardena.  From there, Farmers Markets have grown statewide to include over 700 weekly markets. This support for independent food producers started a statewide trend.

Growing out of these Farmers Markets were also temporary tent vendors.  These vendors were able to sell food prepared on site with a temporary food facilities permit (in conjunction with a community event permit) to enhance the environment of their particular farmers markets. It gave independents an opportunity to serve the public without having to open their own restaurants. Non farmers market food events also flourished in Los Angeles with arts and crafts, activities and more food! All of these types of events gave independents more opportunities to bring their cuisine to the masses.

Los Angeles has a rich street food history starting with horse drawn tamale carriages in the late 1800s. The food truck industry got a boost in the 1970s with the modern day food truck that was essentially a kitchen on wheels.  These new food trucks allowed owners to prepare and serve straight from a vehicle. Independent food producers with dreams of opening a restaurant could start with a truck to hone their skills and serve the people.  In 1985, California passed Cal Vehicle Code 22455 which restricted a city’s power to regulate vendors.  Regulations have to be public safety oriented. That meant that a city could not impose arbitrary anti-competitive regulations on vendors.  The explosion of the modern food truck industry (starting with Kogi) has been able to grow and thrive because California and Los Angeles by extension, doesn’t hamper independent food producers. Of course, in the beginning of the modern food truck industry there were some battles. The SoCalMFVA was at the forefront in fighting for food truck rights using statutes and case law from the preceding generation to obtain rights and freedom from regulations that were not public safety or public health oriented.

So what does this all have to do with Los Angeles being a top food destination?  I’m glad you asked…. Los Angeles supports independents. Like so many other industries, innovation comes from the fringes, the independents, and people who are least restricted by monied interests. Los Angeles has an environment that supports restaurants, food trucks, farmer’s markets, tent vendors and as of last year, cottage food producers. The culinary landscape is spurred by innovation and competition. Large restaurant groups can’t relax. They’re constantly being challenged by the next best thing, which could be coming from a tent vendor a food truck or even a cottage food producer.

Los Angeles’s culinary scene will continue to expand while other cities that are controlled by strong restaurant interests will decline.  Any food industry that does not support independents will, in the long run, go into decline.  Other cities should look long and hard at how they support their culinary scenes.  Consumers should demand that their local government enhance and promote competition.  Anti-competitive laws that stunt competition in the interest of entrenched businesses, will inevitably hurt any industry.  If a city has anti-competitive regulations, than they should really rethink their model.


Los Angeles Food Trucks

Food Trucks Los Angeles




How to Book a Food Truck: Company Lunches

A great post from our friends at the Peaches Smokehouse & Southern Kitchen Truck

Are you thinking about bringing food trucks out to your company for lunch? Or maybe you’ve been tasked with booking trucks but don’t know where to start? It can feel a little overwhelming at first, but here are some tips that might make the process a little easier:

TIP #1: Research the food trucks you want. Not all food trucks are created equal. Try asking your co-workers for suggestions or do a quick search on Yelp or Google. Start by contacting food trucks that have a good reviews and a strong online presence. These are often the trucks that are the most professional and are nice to work with. You can also get suggestions from your local food truck association. In Los Angeles, we have the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association. You’ll find tons of useful information about food trucks on their website, check it out: www.socalmfva.com

TIP #2: Attract great trucks. Many food trucks have a sales minimum they need to meet whenever they go out. A good rule of thumb is 50-60 tickets. If you’re able to get at least 50-60 people to buy their lunch from the food trucks, that’s a good start. Don’t forget to promote the trucks that are coming, designate a parking spot that’s big enough and keep an accurate calendar! As long as the trucks are making money, they’ll spread the word to other food trucks. Then you won’t have any trouble at all getting the best trucks to come out and feed you their tasty, tasty grub!

Continue Reading at Peaches Smoke House & Southern Kitchen’s website


photo credit: Got Food Trucks?

How did food trucks become so popular?

How did food trucks become so popular in Los Angeles?

How did food trucks become so popular in Los Angeles?  Is it the price? How about the food?  The modern food truck industry seems to have come out of no where.  One second there were traditional taco trucks the next second there’s Roy Choi and Kogi!  How did the new trend become so popular so quickly?  There are many facets to the answer.

The most common answer; Roy Choi launched Kogi in late 2008 just as the economy was slumping. During this time Twitter was exploding onto the nascent social media scene.  Kogi used Twitter to connect with Los Angelenos.  The cuisine was different but familiar to city residents who had grown up with both Mexican and Korean food.  It was a perfect storm of cuisine, promotion and the public’s desire for deals.  This answer ignores a few other variables.

So what lead to the huge surge in Los Angeles?  In order for there to be a surge we needed the demand, but potential new vendors also needed food trucks.  The economic downturn had a dramatic effect on the construction industry in Los Angeles County.  The huge drop in construction projects meant a decline in the market for traditional taco trucks.  Many of the trucks that had served construction sites went out of business once construction sites disappeared.  Those food trucks were returned (or repossessed) to builders/lenders who were the original owners. The industry had a huge supply of permitted food trucks waiting to get rented to any aspiring entrepreneur with a dream.  Our industry went from one food truck to ten to sixty in 18 months.  So this addresses how the industry was able to grow so quickly. Now on to the why….

Why are people so enamored with food trucks?  In 2010 The first Los Angeles Street Food Fest expected 4000 people.  18000 people showed up and 6000 were turned away.  People came to wait in line to get into a festival where they waited in line to eat at a food truck. It was simply an amazing spectacle. City officials, some restaurant owners and many bloggers didn’t really grasp the draw.  From my perspective, the draw was a combination of three variables.

Eating at a food truck is a social activity. While waiting in line or for an order customers feel very comfortable interacting with each other.  Most of the time it’s to talk about the food.  The community in Los Angeles, a traditionally car-centric community, has very few opportunities to interact with one another in public spaces. Once three or more food trucks occupy a block, the normally unused sidewalk becomes an organic public space. Eating great food and socializing is nice way to spend the lunch hour.  People leave the experience full from the food and happy about the social interaction.

The innovative cuisine has been a huge draw.  The restaurant industry has a high barrier to entry for most fledgling entrepreneurs. The high cost of opening a restaurant requires most people to seek loans or investments. Moneyed interests can sometimes put a damper on a chef’s innovative ideas.  Imagine asking an investment group for $500,000- $1,000,000 pitching the Korean taco concept pre Kogi. It would have been a tough sell and I can imagine that most investors would rather go with a proven cuisine.  The desire to limit risk in food service can slow innovation. However, with the lower cost of entry into the market food trucks can take wild chances and introduce cuisines not normally found in their respective marketplace.  Grilled cheese sandwiches, Korean tacos, Chinese mexican fusion, Indian street food were all some of the first cuisines to hit the streets in LA.  There were little if any counterparts in brick and mortar restaurants.  The new cuisines were exciting to a public looking for something different.

A food trucks’ lower operating costs means they can provide high quality ingredients at a lower cost. As a lunchtime option, trucks are typically more expensive than fast food but cheaper than a mid range sit down meal. The quick nature of service lends itself to a lunchtime crowd looking for quick food at reasonable prices.

So how did food trucks become so popular?  It’s combination of innovative food, reasonable prices, and a welcome social experience. The food truck industry is expected to continue its meteoric climb. It’s important that the food truck industry continue to offer the food and experiences that have made it so popular. As the industry grows in popularity, more and more communities will embrace the trend.



Getting on the Road: Starting a Food Truck

Starting a Food Truck

The popularity of food trucks has continued to grow! As such, new food trucks continue to open throughout the United States (and the world). Every new food truck has an opportunity to add to their respective market.  They can do this with their cuisine, their service and their organization. But where does the prospective new food truck start? Should the new food truck merely go to where all of the other food trucks vend?  Many new trucks are frustrated with their inability to find places to vend in their first few weeks on the road. Ongoing lunch lots are typically booked up and organizers usually like to wait and hear how a truck is received before booking them at their events. Starting a food truck requires a lot of time spent developing your market.

New food trucks must understand the importance of creating their own market and customer base. It’s not the industry’s job to find new food trucks customers, and it’s best not to be at the mercy of your regional event organizers. So how do you acquire customers? Start with your friends, relatives and coworkers. Does anyone in your group of friends/family work at a building or complex that has limited food options?  Do you have friends that need food for a private party?  It’s important to reach out to everyone that may need your services and let them know that you’re now the proud owner of a food truck!  There is no easy answer and it’s important to have enough cash reserves that you can make mistakes and/or develop your market.

Many food trucks that have been on the road for a long time have developed spots and areas that are popular with customers.  These spots can be parking lots near a building, or just streets where food trucks congregate.  As a region’s industry grows it’s important that new opportunities are developed.  If newer trucks simply go where other trucks have already created the market, an oversaturation occurs.  In instances where a space is on private property, many new food trucks get frustrated when they’re not allowed by the organizer (often the organizer is another food truck) to vend.  The best way to ensure your new food truck has access to organized spaces is to organize some spaces of your own.  Asking an established food truck if you can vend from one of their developed spaces is much easier when you can offer that food truck something in return.

Developing your own market ensures success without having to rely on others.  The more places and spaces you can develop yourself the better your chance for success.  Don’t forget how important catering is. Make sure that everyone who walks up to your food truck, sees it driving on the road or checks out your website knows that you cater!

Starting a food truck

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