Cheap and environmentally friendly. These two terms might have been what first attracted you to food truck industry, but now they’re taking on whole new meanings.
Food bikes are the new generation of food trucks. The trend is still in its infancy, but this type of service is quickly becoming a go-to mobile option for mobile food operations. This food service concept works, and it will continually grow in dense, urban areas where food trucks have already saturated the streets.
These food bikes are two or three-wheeled, powered manually like typical bicycles.
Feverish is an example of a bicycle-based food concept in Miami. This gourmet popsicle and vegan ice cream business started in 2008 when a couple purchased tricycles off of Craigslist.com.
Another example in Kickstand Brooklyn, located in New York. This food bike peddles java on two wheels to its customers. It serves both hot and cold coffee mad from beans that are ground and brewed on the spot.
A major advantage of the food bike trend is its location flexibility. While the operation of food trucks appears highly mobile, food bikes are able to come and go from events and farmers’ markets more freely – where these businesses can piggyback on existing permits. Although there are still permitting and licensing issues, street vending on a bike is possible (both physically and financially) and more profitable than owning a food truck.
The key to success, as many of these bike delivery services have learned, is to offer products that have a strong tie to cyclists. This explains why so many of the existing bike-powered mobile kitchens are coffee concepts, including: Equal Exchange’s Free Range Café in Boston, the Good Bike in Austin, and Café Velo in Portland.
However, the obvious drawback to food bikes is that it can only serve a limited range of items because of its limited size and manpower.
So, where is this trend heading? We wouldn’t recommend trying to use a food bike as your stand-alone operation. Even if you have a few bikes operating at the same time, it’s a slightly limited business model. Instead, begin planning on how your food truck or brick-and-mortar restaurant can use food bikes as extensions to your current business.