FOOD IS HAVING ITS MOMENT
Going out used to mean going to a restaurant with an address filled with chairs and tables. Not anymore. From start-up food businesses to restaurants looking for other ways to market and sell their foods, “mobile” food is a thing. Food trucks line city streets, set up in public open spaces, or park near busy pedestrian areas. Indoor “permanent” markets abound in abandoned, now resurrected, old factory or warehouse spaces. And outdoor weekend ready-to-eat or prepared-while-you-wait food markets happen as weekly affairs in small to large cities.
People love food trucks. Just look at the long lines. It gives diners choices other than the restaurants lining the street. By bringing diverse menus, it brings a dining novelty for eaters to explore. And if you are thinking of entering the food business, this for many, is a great place to start. Starting a food truck as an entry into the restaurant business can be advantageous at many levels.
First it is a lower level of financial investment than renting a restaurant space. It gives the opportunity to be in different areas and see what the target market may be. Most food trucks are thematic, diners are generally not expecting an extensive menu, so it keeps the number of menu items more controlled. Diners usually expect food trucks to offer a type of cuisine with a few offerings and can be absolutely satisfied with such.
The Food Truck culture is so prolific in New Haven, CT that they have a website to help diners learn about the variety of foods offered throughout the city! Visit Street Food NHV.
Indoor “permanent” market spaces allow for a stationary version of the food truck to happen, meaning that the kitchen is not transported anywhere, and for as long as the vendor rents the space, the equipment and supplies stay put. Whether a stepping stone from the food truck, in addition to, or as a first step, this again is can be an entry point into the restaurant business.
It means that people are coming to you, much in the way that they would choose a traditional restaurant, but chances are they are coming to the venue and will either have heard of your business or they discover it while walking through the building. Either way, if it is a busy space, it guarantees eaters – so long as your dishes taste good and are intriguing.
WEEKLY OUTDOOR FOOD VENUES
Outdoor venues are place where food trucks and tented vendors congregate in designated areas. Like a farmer’s market, these are scheduled events. Many allow for guest vendors, as well as regulars. While a little more weather dependent than an indoor space, it offers great variety for diners and low overhead for vendors.
A favorite since 2011 is Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. Great name, great food.
Like any food establishment not on wheels, food trucks and small permanent/weekly establishments must be licensed and inspected by the state and local authorities.
If wanting to dip a spoon in the pot and not have the commitment of a restaurant, or you are slightly nomadic, this is a way of getting food onto the street.