Have Food Trucks Become Too Mainstream for New York?

A recent survey by the market research firm Technomic revealed that consumers are cuckoo for food trucks, with a whopping 91 percent of the 500 respondents saying that “the trend has staying power and is not just a passing fad.” Despite crackdowns in New York and L.A., mobile dining is certainly proliferating: Seattle has passed legislation allowing food trucks to vend on public streets and sell food that’s more exciting than pretzels and hot dogs, while in Raleigh, the city council has agreed to consider allowing food trucks on private property. Even Detroit just got its first truck, a taco wagon dubbed El Guapo.

Not to jump atop our snob soap box, but isn’t it usually around the time that places like Seattle, Raleigh … or Detroit discover a trend that NYC moves on to something else? (Don’t even get us started on the way big corporations like Dairy Queen, the Food Network, and Air France have co-opted the fad). Might it be time for our trendsetting metropolis to embrace something else — and if so, what?

Brick-and-mortar certainly seems to be a strong contender. Several successful trucks have laid down permanent roots, including Souvlaki GR, Mexicue, and soon, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. The food truck boom in New York coincided with the recession, when it might have been hard to cobble together enough for a shop but easier to fund a food truck, so a permanent space was doubtlessly the plan for some of these entrepreneurs all along.

As for that other option — truck “food courts” in less constricted areas like Long Island City — well, this bit from the Technomic Survey was illuminating in that regard: “location is critical to the success of food trucks, as 61 percent of consumers ‘just [happen] upon them,’” something not too likely in obscure parts of the outer boroughs. Tom Colicchio’s Lot on Tap brings plenty of business to its trucks even though it’s on Tenth Avenue, largely due to the insane number of people trailing by to visit the High Line. If you can situate a food court somewhere pedestrians frequent, then it becomes viable, and if not — well, it just sounds like more heartbreak for already beleaguered truck owners.

Technomic: Open road for food trucks [NRN]
Seattle council OKs more food trucks on streets [Seattle Times]
Raleigh to consider rules that allow food trucks [AP]
Detroit’s first 100-percent legit food truck hits the streets [Model D]
Earlier: Are Food Trucks Heading Toward a Food Court Model?

Have Food Trucks Become Too Mainstream for New York?