Good Culture: Food Trucks – Flying or Falling?

Erika Budiman, a young graphic designer and photographer, has spent the last 12 months compiling content for her new book “Food Truck Feasts”. The idea of the book came when Erika discovered that “…despite the growing food truck scene, many people were unaware of the trucks we had in Australia or the delicious food that they offer”. This book outlines popular recipes, matched with the history of the food truck that it originated from and its creators, providing a real insight into the running and success of various popular food trucks nationwide. It has quickly sold out, showing the interest in the Food Truck scene; however, I question how much of a ‘scene’ there really is?

One of the many food trucks you’ll find around Sydney (image via Concrete Playground)

Sydney’s food culture has grown considerably over the last decade, with many different eateries and cuisines forging their imprint into the lives of many Sydney-siders. As people become more invested in finding high quality, affordable and tasty foods – it became apparent that our food culture was missing something: food trucks.  Since then, the Food Truck culture has grown, with the Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore, backing the initiative to get more food trucks onto Sydney streets. The new initiative saw 50 new licenses available for Food Truck owners; however, only 17 are currently being used. Why? The Food Truck industry can be a tough one, with not only the different competitors – most of which come from big names and brands – but also with rigorous application processes and government policies. To open a food truck in Sydney, a lengthy application outlining every possible detail about the business, including prospected sales, market branding and even a pictorial idea of what the food truck itself is proposed to look like must be submitted for pending approval. This in itself, as such a large piece of work, could explain as to why Sydney still has 33 unused available licenses. On top of this, food truck businesses must adhere to various government policies; including a maximum of five hours trading per 24 hours, inability to operate in a large number of exclusion zones around the Sydney CBD and the re-application process for licenses every 12 months – with license renewal not guaranteed, even if a large sum of money and time has been invested into the business.

A similar situation like this occurred in New York to the ‘Cinnamon Snail’ food truck. After five years of operation, three food trucks, a large cult following and plenty of awards including ‘Vendy Cup Winner 2014’, ‘Yelp’s #1 place to eat in NYC’ and ‘Mobile Choice Magazine’s American favourite vegetarian food truck’ for three years running, their re-application was unsuccessful and therefore, forced to shut. Stories like this seem unrealistic: that such a large, successful company can be shut down, without consideration or no reason given, however, it is a reality and can be real deterrent for potential owners of these type of businesses.

The Cinnamon Snail food truck in New York (image via NewYorkStreetFood.com)

It is a real shame that Sydney has also made it such a difficult industry to be in, with many overseas cities thriving with on the Food Truck culture. Not only does it provide the public with opportunity to dine in a relaxed, affordable setting with incredible food, but also supports small local business. In this day-and-age, it is so important that we, as communities support local business and push finances back into our own economy. Unfortunately, it is far too often that we see our favourite small local businesses closing down, due to lack of customer knowledge, media support and financial backing. Creating a successful, long standing, local small business can be a tough gig – particularly when you consider small marketing budgets, expense in setting up, long working hours and competition from international franchises such as McDonalds and KFC, who offer affordable, convenient fast food 24 hours a day. So, how can we stop these businesses from closing?  Support them! How can we support them? Give them business. How can we give them business? You Chews. You Chews strives to support local business by sourcing the best of the local food scene to your office, catering for luncheons, events, meetings or any occasion!

3 thoughts on “Good Culture: Food Trucks – Flying or Falling?

  1. Interesting article. Do you think there would be scope for organising something like Street Feast that we had back in London: http://www.streetfeastlondon.com/ : It’s a movable food event that would make a cool venue like a Dalston carpark, East London warehouse or Battersea power station its home for a month or two and would be a really popular weekend activity. It also gave budding restauranteurs and foodies a chance to showcase and refine their products before moving on to set up full restaurants.

  2. Pingback: Food Culture: The BBQ Trend | You Chews Foodies

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