New Food Trucks Around The US

Summer’s here and so are the food trucks but to add more flavor to the season are the new food trucks with their interesting slants on what they think will catch the eyes of the growing number of food truck lovers. Some of the new food trucks to look out for are:

In Seattle … Nibbles!

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Nibbles is a food truck with current address at the West Seattle Eagles parking every lunch time from Mondays to Fridays except Thursdays. Owned and operated by chefs Robert Breckenridge and partner Carmen Hernandez, this food truck’s specialty is Southwest fusion food.  Their menu includes a smoky meatloaf sandwich, salmon chili, smoked chicken salad, apple cake, and drinks.

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Propane Safety in Food Trucks

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Thus far most government offices inspect the sanitation of food trucks and rarely check for gas leaks or other similar potential dangers. That is, until one food truck in Minneapolis parked in Lakeville blew up because of a gas leak. This incident triggered a domino effect as one after another sectors of society began to question the safety of food trucks to the point of many consumers worried that they may not be safe being in close proximity to trucks that do not have to follow any propane safety measures.

In Minnesota, food trucks have annual inspections before a license is issued just like restaurants. And although gas leaks are rare, some feel that food truck employees should be trained to know the smell of gas leaks to prevent an explosion from happening.  Aside from the incident at Lakeville, there were 4 other similar cases with food trucks last year with 2 deaths. Some of the safety procedures that must be observed are:

  • Buying propane gas only from licensed dealers
  • Twice yearly check of valves: once before the start of truck season and midway through the season
  • Consider using other cooking methods other than propane gas
  • Buying insurance to cover such incidents
  • Report food trucks that are in violation of any safety standard for commercial vehicles

The Lakeville food truck was not in violation of any safety code. In fact, it was approved for licenses and permits every year since 2012. It never violated any city ordinance or law and only got citations for handlers not wearing sanitary gloves and the use of high concentrated cleaning solutions.

Food truck owners should have a protocol for employees to follow should the following happen:

  • Smell of gas
  • Changing of propane tanks
  • Checking for leaks

Some of the do’s and don’ts for food truck operations using propane gas are:

  • Evacuate the area after shutting down the gas and anything else that is heating
  • Always make it a point to check the vents
  • Never modify the propane set-up without a professional
  • Make sure there is sufficient ventilation

Propane gas is dense so if there is a leak, the gas will settle at the feet level. Make sure you have nothing at the feet level that can cause a spark. You can also buy a leak detector and remind your staff to always shut off the gas at the end of the day and during rest periods.

Jersey Food Truck Scene: An Exciting Way To Start Food Truck Season

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Jersey is starting to feel like the best place to be in this summer as quite a number of new and interesting street food have opened to usher in a new food truck season.  By the tail end of spring, new and old food vendors were lining up to get their food truck licenses from the city government. The city Health Department decided to entertain limited applications for new and second locations for existing food trucks or issue a total of 51 new mobile vendor licenses.

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Spam is Back! High End Spam Food Truck

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Spam is over 77 years old and has become an urban legend of sorts and a lifesaver for many Americans and people around the world who need to prepare a quick and tasty meal or snack. One of the myths about Spam is that it stands for “Scientifically Processed Animal Matter” in spite of the company’s repeated publication that it is made of pork, salt, water, potato starch, sodium nitrate and sugar.  Spam was a creation of the founder’s son, Jay Hormel in a gallant effort to provide full employment, all year round and put an end to seasonal employment. Continue reading »

The Peugeot Food Truck: Luxury on Wheels

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Peugeot started as a family business founded in 1810 originally as a French coffee mill company and expanded into pepper mill, tableware, and bicycles . It was only in the late 1800s that the company launched its first car which was something short of a disaster. Fortunately, they settled in and won numerous awards for their vehicles as well as the respect from the auto world.

Today, the Peugeot Design Lab has created an amazing food truck which converts into a DJ booth and full service restaurant-café.  Since Peugeot has a history of being in the pepper mill and tableware industry, those familiar with the company history feels that the company has come full circle with this new food truck.

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Food Trucks in Japan

While Japanese food trucks are successfully popping up all over the United States and other countries, wouldn’t be interesting to know what kind of food trucks there are in Japan?  Japan used to be a country where street food was limited to food stalls selling yakisoba and takoyaki  (noodles and snack balls). Today. Tokyo is an amazing place to be in with several food trucks offering incredible menus either in a permanent location or as mobile satellites of existing restaurants.

The Fred Segal Food Truck

American retailer Fred Segal did not just open a clothing store in Tokyo, he also put up a food truck, Mart. This move was a first in the world and his food truck is more than just donuts and coffee. Mart also sells imported food grocery products like Quinn Popcorn and Jacobsen Salt. His coffee is a unique blend of Japanese Arabica coffee beans hand roasted for 30 minutes and a Japanese coffee served to Japanese royalty, Marafuku.

Wish Fresh Salad

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This food truck offers a design-your-salad menu with an interesting selection of ingredients including bacon, lotus root, bell peppers, mushrooms, and black olives. They have their own dressing with the bestseller being the honey mustard. The food truck also sells different wraps, soup, beer, apple cider, and sparkling wine. It is owned by Atsushi who studied in New York and  when he returned to Tokyo, he brought the food truck idea with him.

Garage 50

If you’re craving for pizza while in Tokyo, you should look for Garage 50. It offers the city most extensive range of pizza flavors and sauces including a maple syrup sauce. All pizzas are 24 cm, thin crust and crispy. They occasionally add a few daily specials which go on a limited run. Each pizza costs 500 yen while drinks like Coke and ginger ale are 100 yen each.

Adwee Lalawee

Technically not a food truck but a cart on wheels but this amazing business is popular for having one of the best pad thais in Tokyo. No, the chef is not Thai but Japanese, Hiroyuki Makino, and his wooden cart on wheels (bicycle wheels) is one to run after. He is found mostly in the Asagaya and Koenji area and can be grumpy at times but his food is the best! You will have to choose and self serve the sauce you want on your noodles and you have a choice of adding crushed peanuts for the authentic Thai flavor. One dish of pad thai is only 380 yen and best eaten hot with a cold can of Singha beer. Oh, and Adwee can be found on Twitter.

Tips On Training Food Truck Staff Well

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Sadly, many food truck owners limit staff training to cashiering, cooking, and taking inventory. There is so much more to running a food truck successfully and unless you have staff you can count on to take on some of the work, you could end up over-fatigued, over-stressed, and possibly extremely cranky. Also, you are not maximizing the money you pay to your staff if you refuse to let them take over most of the work load.

The first tip on staff training is to hire people who have experience in:

  • Working in a food truck
  • Sales
  • Handling money
  • Inventory management
  • Frontline service

They don’t have to have all these but they should have experience in at least one area. This will ease the burden of training. However, not everyone who says he or she is experienced automatically means that they have been trained properly. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to hire an applicant for a day to see how he or she works and gets along with the others. If this isn’t possible, then hire them as a temporary on probation.

The second tip is to make sure you are organized before you start training anyone. This refers not just to the kitchen and operations but also with a training manual with FAQ , confidentiality clauses, expectations, and rules.

Tip number three is to never take anything for granted. You may assume an employee would know how to greet customers and take orders but you would be wrong not to check them and correct the errors. Your training manual should have explicit instructions on simple tasks like greeting, order taking, giving the change and receipt, serving, packaging, handling complaints, explaining menu items, FIFO (First-In-First-Out), and cleanliness.

A good tip is to shadow your employees after you ask them to shadow your movements. They should be able to mimic your business style instead of trying to enforce their own personality in your business.

Finally, be patient during training but be strict and demanding once training is over. Be ready to answer their questions because a trainee employee that is openly asking questions shows signs of wanting the job and a willingness to learn.

New Food Trucks in Boston!

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Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts but more importantly, the people of Boston love their food. The cuisine in this beautiful city is known for its use of seafood and dairy products. However, it offers a wide range of international choices from Asian to European food.

This year, food trucks in Boston just got more interesting with the introduction of 5 extraordinary food trucks. The food truck season which started this April brings with it a diversity in food selection and concepts.

North East of the Border

This food truck is offering authentic Mexican food using locally sourced produce. It was set up by 2 men who met and became friends while in the Bahamas. One is a chef born and raised in Mexico while the other is an expert in business and management – a dream team.  They offer 8 kinds of taco, salsa, beans, rice, and guacamole.

Fresh Food Generation

This is a farm to plate food truck with a Latin-American and Caribbean menu. Fresh Food Generation is known for its catering so has an advantage over the other new food trucks. At the time, expectations are higher that this food truck is going to bring the best in quality local goods.

Boston ProJuice

Finally, something that isn’t just about food in a food truck is this new juicer + healthy food snacks. They serve dehydrated chips and homemade granola bars aside from the nutritious drinks. They also have a fruit and vegetable breakfast which is available starting at 6:30 in the morning.

Lilo’s Plates

Hawaiian food is not something you hear about everyday but Bostonians are now enjoying this unique cuisine as it parks in different areas across the city from Mondays to Fridays.  Most interesting about this food truck is their amazing marketing which includes new freebies every day like alcohol-free piña coladas and desserts.

Sabrosa Taqueria

Finally, this food truck is making a name for itself as a food truck with its flavorful burritos. It already has a brick and mortar place in Downtown Crossing so what they have, Bostonians may have already sampled and liked. They also serve other Mexican fare like tacos and quesadillas.

The Burger Food Truck Fight: Where to find the best burgers on the go

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America is burger. It’s one of their contributions to the rest of the world although technically the United States cannot claim to have invented the burger. The US can boast of selling the burger and making it an international success. Today, there are hamburgers in every corner of the globe.

Who Has the Best Burger among US Food Trucks?

According to an online survey done late last year, the top burgers of America’s food trucks are:

  1. From Houston comes one of the best burgers in the US, Burger Bus which mimics a school bus in design but no one will ever say that the food is school-quality. Burger Bus is operated by Justin Turner who used to work for Wendy’s and the Miami Heat kitchen. Last June, he opened a brick and mortar version of his burger food truck but the 3 foods trucks still continue to happily and successfully roam the streets of Houston.
  2. Fukuburger from Las Vegas has an exotic burger menu which started operations in 2010. Their all-American burgers are given a touch of Japanese flavor like pickled red ginger and wasabi mayo. Their burgers attract customers not just because of the flavors but also because of the name of the food truck.
  3. Las Vegas has another fantastic burger food truck called Slidin’ Thru which sells mini burgers or sliders with ridiculous flavors. This food truck has been around for more than 4 years and has also expanded to a land-based restaurant. Some of their top sellers are Chicky Boom, Captain’s Order, Buffalo Soldier, and Pep Pep.
  4. Jefe’s Original Fish Taco & Burgers based in Miami is inspired by an ex-surfer legend who earned the nickname “The Boss” or Jefe. He started with wonderful fish tacos using his mother’s recipe. Jefe died in 1976 but a relative revived the food business and now sells amazing burgers and signature fish tacos – Ensenada-style.
  5. Fivetenburger owned by chef Roland Robles was once of the best burgers of San Francisco in 2013. His burgers are still selling like crazy because he used 100% grass-fed organic meat. He has expanded to 2 trucks operating around the San Francisco area and the choices have grown and include a vast amount of sidings and toppings.

There are dozens of other amazing food trucks selling burgers in every state and city across the country and around the world. This is not the complete list of lip-smacking burgers in the country.

Food Truck Ministry: Start Of Something Good?

A most encouraging sight in the food truck business are the Loaves and Fish Food and the Heavenly Souls project. The goal of the people behind these two food truck concepts is to help people in need. Here’s their stories:

The Inspiring Loaves and Fish Food Truck

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The Loaves and Fish Food Truck is a ministry of the Hope House Church based in Walker County in San Diego. Under the leadership of Pastor Thomas Martin, the idea is to serve hot meals to the residents for free. The food truck they church found is a 1990s Salvation Army truck left for junk. The church raised the funds to buy the truck and refurbish the truck. They have also begun accepting donations for the food truck operations. It started making the rounds with a planned schedule to visit at most 2 communities every  month with church volunteers manning the truck and meal preparation. The meals they choose to prepare are nutritious “full meals” rather than the typical sandwiches.

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