The Real Deal on Restaurant Wars with Food Trucks

December 10, 2012

Here’s the scoop. You’ve probably encountered (or read about) the backlash that mobile food vendors are getting from brick-and-mortar restaurants. Many news sources are depicting mobile food stands as the reason that restaurants are closing down or moving to new locations. But is this true?

No. Although mainstream media sites publish these stories as fact, there’s rarely evidence to verify these claims. Where as traditional restaurants are failing due to the recession that started in 2008, the food truck industry is prevailing in spite of it. Most families have less disposable income to spend on going out to eat, which leads to fewer sales at fine dining establishments. Makes sense, right?

That seems to make a lot more sense than the claim that individuals are suddenly choosing to forego fine dining experiences in order to substitute them with cheaper meals that they are forced to eat while standing. In fact, most individuals who eat at food trucks claim that if it hadn’t been for the mobile food vendor’s presence, the individual would have eaten at a nearby fast-food joint – not an independent brick-and-mortar restaurant.

So, it’s not realistic to believe that food trucks are the main cause of the restaurant-closing trend that roughly began in 2008. The influx of food trucks is not eating away at established restaurants’ bottom lines. Rather, the exact opposite is true of food trucks. Cities across the country have been and are currently looking at mobile vendors to help spark their floundering economies in order to bring money back into these areas – and thus help out traditional food establishments. However, in order to fully reach its potential as an industry, municipalities must relax the laws surrounding these street food eateries. Some gourmet food truck operators say that many cities still relegate them to antiquated rules intended for ice-cream, hot-dog and other traditional mobile vendors with smaller and less complex menus.

Now that we really know what’s going on between the food truck industry and the traditional restaurant industry, does this mean that the two industries are mutually exclusive? Of course not. In fact, the brick-and-mortar restaurants that are doing really well in spite of the economy have jumped into the food truck industry themselves – creating trucks and trailers that complement their traditional restaurant themes.

But this is how trends go – whether they’re here to stay or not. If you’re in the food industry, you have to jump on board (a food truck, that is) or get left in the dust.