Saturday, November 3, 2012

Time keeps on tickin' tickin' tickin' into...

I'm a fan of classic rock. (Reference to title of this blog. It's Steve Miller, if you aren't up on classic rock trivia.) That's good, it gives me something to listen to while I'm waiting for the long anticipated debut of the food truck!! Patiently, I wait, of course.

It's not that there isn't anything to do to get ready for business to open, there are hundreds of things to do. Some of those are reliant on having the truck in possession, some on just knowing when we will have the truck and when we can debut. Everything is just taking longer than anticipated, no problems per se, just slow progress. I'm confident when it's complete we will have the very well built, reliable, customized truck and commercial kitchen we were seeking.

At this point the upside, I'm always looking for one, is the summer rush of Fountain Square lunches and multiple large events is over. We can 'get our feet wet' slowly at our own pace without feeling compelled to push ourselves out there prior to being ready to face the public and cook for a larger size group. It is what it is, don't you love that expression? I don't, but it fits.

In the meantime, while out in LA for my niece's wedding, I took that opportunity to visit some food trucks. LA being the mecca of food trucks and food truck culture. Someone recently told me when a home in LA goes on the market for sale, on the listing along with the schools and other recreation in the area, is listed the food trucks which visit that area or neighborhood. That's a food truck culture! (Thanks for that info Cheryl.)

Food Trucks line up on Wilshire Blvd across from LACMA

But I digress, food trucks of every type are everywhere in LA, and it's quite fascinating to see the ways they are different and the similarities to f.t.'s in Cincinnati or other areas.
There are different requirements for the trucks in California and specifically LA, so they look a little different than here. But also people will stand in line longer in LA for their food. Much longer. It's part of the culture. It's not unusual to see a line of devoted customers going down the block and around the corner for one (good) food truck!

Because LA is so spread out, some of the more successful f.t. companies have more than one truck and might be in up to three or four locations for lunch, then move for dinner, and then again for late night. Reading their schedule can be quite intense. Hence many trucks have full-time staff who work 'off truck' on scheduling, prep, stocking, and logistics. This is in juxtaposition to Cincinnati where any entity can only own one truck in the Cincinnati Food Truck program, that's regardless of whether they serve the same type of food on each of their trucks or want to develop different trucks of different concepts. Nope, only one per company/owner in Cincinnati! Let's keep those businesses small!

I was blessed and so excited to meet many helpful people while in LA. My sweet niece Sara, works for Susan Feniger's Street, a really great restaurant renowned for their interpretation of street food from all over the world and owned by celebrity chef Susan Feniger. Street and the owners are also affiliated with Border Grill which has multiple locations, two food trucks and a 'food stop' in downtown LA.
Kaya Toast - a staple @ Street. (I'd make the trip back just for this.)

Of course, we had to visit Street and had an excellent meal. Was it a meal? Or just plates of everything they make there brought to us in triplicate to feed our whole crowd, an extravaganza of delicious small plates of very unusual food combinations. They all worked great! It was delicious and so fun to try everything. The co-owner with Susan is Kajsa Alger (pronounced 'Sasha') and she was there that evening. It was so nice of her to visit with us and send over dessert for all of us. But also speak personally with Dick and I to give us great info and feedback about the food truck business and culture from an LA perspective, but also some great universal information about food trucks in general.

The next day Dick and I visited food trucks around LA. Eric from Komodo ("Dangerously Good Food") food truck, stopped everything when he learned I am building a truck. He insisted I try his 'steak taco' in addition to the Java tacos we'd already ordered. We were just going to share so we could visit other trucks too. We came away from Komodo full, happy, and with even more knowledge about the business, and with another food truck friend. Eric was happy to talk truck, and share his thoughts, he was really enthusiastic  and encouraging which was heart warming.

This is the top of the line of trucks. It extends beyond this photo and into the next block.
From the Komodo truck we went to the Art Museum, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, don't you love acronyms?) where there was a food truck line up. That was fun to see also. It was hard to get a photo of all of the trucks in a line. There were 15 trucks there in all. LA has over 400 trucks. We didn't really make contact with any workers on these trucks, we just watched. Really it was remarkable Eric from Komodo took/found the time to talk to me. I wasn't expecting or asking for that during the busy lunch rush.

Mark Twain famously stated, "if the world is about to end, go to Cincinnati. Everything happens there 10 years later!" If you've had any conversation with me about the pending truck, you've heard me quote that back to you and you know why that excites me.  It is holding true in the food truck business that Cincinnati is quite a bit slower than other comparable cities in our food truck program and the number of trucks etc.

There is plenty of room to grow and for minds and palettes to expand with new food ideas. This week I met BJ., who is opening a Korean BBQ truck next week in Cincinnati. Just from speaking to him I know his food is going to be great, I can't wait to try it. It's a 'win' for Cincinnati to have a new truck, it's a 'win' for all of us in the food truck business to have someone out there serving great food which adds a different type of food choice. Look for BJ's truck, tell him you read about it in my blog, the truck is called Red Sesame. Also he's new to town, so be sure to give him a Cincinnati welcome.

I did really learn some great tips and enjoyed seeing the LA scene. But I'm thrilled  Randy and I are starting our business in Cincinnati. We are on the beginning of an exciting trend with new dining options and clearly many things happening around Cincinnati. We are the "new guys" to those locally who've had their trucks for awhile, but compared to those other cities and programs, Cincinnati is in it's Food Truck infancy. We are all on the beginning of the curve and that is a great place to be!

Peace to all,
Make the most of today, it's the only one we are guaranteed!


Becky said...

Loved the photo of the food truck "lineup" in LA. I bet yours is just as colorful.

Betsy5 said...

Hi Becky I loved seeing the line up! I hope mine is too, we'll see.....

SueR said...

Wish I could have joined you at Street! The LA truck scene is amazing. Cincinnati will catch up someday?