I recently asked 7 Los Angeles food truck operators at LA Street Food Fest and out in the field, What’s the biggest challenge in operating food trucks?. Read their responses.
Alvin Cailan (Egg Slut LA)
Staying cool during the summer.
Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ)
The challenge is only a good challenge, which is to constantly feed more people and keep it as delicious as possible. That’s the challenge. I’m up for it.
Dave Danhi (The Grilled Cheese Truck)
It’s a food truck. They break down a lot. It’s Murphy’s Law on wheels. Whether it’s mechanical breakdowns, engineer breakdowns, traffic, I can go on and on. You get to new places, it’s such a bittersweet thing, because you can go to the demographic and reach the people we want, but getting there is half the battle.
Brook Howell (Frysmith)
Just the operating can be really difficult. You have breakdowns on your truck. And then you can only be open a few hours a day, versus a restaurant, where you can be open for hours. There’s a lot of overhead that’s way higher than in a restaurant, proportional to how much money you can make. That makes it difficult.
Masa Ose (Pig’s Feet Under)
Staffing. A lot of times, venues/events are picked up at the last minute and if you don’t have them scheduled, you have to scramble to find staff especially if it is a big event that you were not expecting to go to. But when there is a cancellation and the opportunity is there, then you have to take it with or without staff.
Ernesto Reitich (El Pan-Americano)
Woo, a lot. The biggest challenge, these kinds of trucks, it’s a lot of expenses. Gas, commissary, propane. If we could convert this into a hybrid or something like that, that would be great. For me, that’s the worst, to have a food truck. All day, you have to work together to move this, it’s really hard.
George Wu (Waffles de Liege)
There are a lot of cogs in a food truck operation so as an operator, you must be able to adapt to hiccups as they come. For example, it’s possible that your truck breaks down on the way to a private catering event or large-scale music festival, so unless you have protocol planned for such a problem, things can get pretty hectic and stressful. These sort of issues aren’t present in standard brick & mortar establishments. On top of that, you have to constantly keep an eye out for events and keep your schedule booked. Trucks have to run hard almost everyday of the week in order to survive. Again, not something our brick & mortar counterparts have to concern themselves with. Although stores have their own problems to deal with, for the most part, they just gotta unlock some doors, turn on the lights, and flip over that “open” sign.