Food trucks: Gourmet truck-making on the rise

Food trucks — the kind we will likely see soon on West Commerce —  wouldn’t be able to operate without their customized vehicles, right? So what goes into making custom trucks for restaurant entrepreneurs?

Increasing demand for food trucks has helped revive business among folks who manufacture catering trucks, according to this New York Times article. Gary Ferguson sells $11 of ice cream per minute out of his mobile ice cream truck Lake Street Creamery in Los Angeles. Ferguson says the key to success was having a truck tailored to his business. He hired Armenco Cater Truck Manufacturing to fit a custom freezer system and hard ice cream machine into a used step-body truck. After the recession, Armenco thought it would have to shut down business, but now, because of the food truck boom, the small facility is busy.

AA Cater Truck, the largest food truck manufacturer in the country based in Los Angeles, sells trucks equipped with everything from pizza ovens to industrial baking ovens for cupcake-making. Richard Gomez, a customer sales engineer and plant controller at AA, says the company is seeing demand for gourmet trucks based on specific menu items or food concepts. Customizing the exterior of trucks is becoming important, too. Gomez says in the Times article that “customers want to make their trucks look like celebrities”.

The story points out that a standard AA truck costs $124,000 new, but adding specialized kitchen equipment can increase the price to $250,000. Still, this is less than the $850,000 to $1.5 million in start-up costs opening a restaurant can require. Those prices are more forgiving to fledging entrepreneurs, as we’ve also discussed. Also in the NYT article is a mention of Mobi Munch, a San Francisco-based mobile food service infrastructure company that is promoting the launch of original food truck concepts in hopes of renting food trucks to established chefs and restaurateurs throughout the country on a monthly basis. Josh Tang, company co-founder and chief executive, says Mobi Munch wants to put 300 to 500 mobile trucks on the road nationwide over the next five years.


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