Sorry, hipsters, gourmet food trucks have gone mainstream. They may have started as a local trend serving quirky cupcakes, kimchi quesadillas, and grilled mac-n-cheese sandwiches with hip foodies tracking the truck’s whereabouts on Twitter.
Well, now, they’re evolving into rolling billboards for national restaurant chains, like Sizzler, Applebee’s, and Jack in the Box, which are hoping to look cool, get people talking, and attract younger customers, but critics call them “anti-food trucks.” They point out that food trucks were trendy because they were different from corporate chains which offer the same food, whether you’re in California or Connecticut.
Critics also say that corporate restaurants are missing the point. Take Sizzler, for example, execs saw long lines at food trucks, and decided that their trucks would have shorter wait times. But in the trendy world of food trucks, slow service is a draw, not a flaw. In other words, a long line means that whatever they’re selling is popular – and worth waiting for.
But experts say we should expect to see more big chain food trucks. Why? Because they’re moneymakers. First of all, food trucks cost much less to run than regular restaurants, and because they’re mobile, they can target areas regular restaurants can’t, like beaches, office complexes, and construction sites. And already, two-thirds of restaurant sales come from so-called “off-premises consumption," like takeout, delivery, curbside pickup, and now, mobile food trucks. Some chain restaurants are even considering offering food truck franchises.
Bottom line: Some experts believe that food trucks are a game changer. Just like the way cell phones replaced landlines for millions of people, they believe that food trucks may one day be the “norm” for restaurants.