“Ten Things Food Truckers Won’t Say”, Part II

On Wednesday, we addressed the first five points made in this Smart Money piece by Jonelle Marte about food trucks. We loved hearing your reactions to it via Twitter and emails and we hope you’ll continue to tell us your thoughts after finish up with the remaining five. Let’s get started!

Source: StreetGrubEveryDay.com via Steve

“The heat isn’t limited to the oven.”
It’s true- It is crazy hot on a food truck during the dog days of summer. It is of the utmost importance to keep your food safe and fresh- After all, we want to keep serving you! While our food truckers are always careful about keeping food temperatures from rising too high, they are especially aware of this on the very hottest days and take extra measures such as the ones mentioned in the article (opening the refrigerator less often, frequently checking food temperatures, and finding an alternative power source for refrigerators). In fact, they occasionally close early or altogether on the very hottest days.

Source: StreetGrubEveryDay.com via Steve

“We use social media to avoid fines…”
Sure, we use social media (what good business doesn’t these days?) but only to help you find your beloved food trucks! Besides, the law mentioned in this point of the article is not relevant to NYC.

“…though sometimes it backfires.”
As we said above and as you can clearly see by our Tweets, Facebook posts, and Pinterest Boards, we are eager to share our locations with everyone. All we ask in return is for safe places to vend!

Source: StreetGrubEveryDay.com via Steve

“Don’t expect truck stop prices.”
This one is complicated… Restaurant prices are dictated primarily by food cost and labor cost. These factors are the same on food trucks. One thing that makes the new wave of food trucks more interesting to consumers is better ingredients, which most of our members prefer to use (unlike many price-comparable dining establishments).  Better ingredients cost more.

“We’re losing our edge.”
All NYCFTA members are hospitality entrepreneurs who own and operate small businesses though each truck’s road to success does not look exactly the same. As long as trucks stay true to the experimental vibe food trucks are known for (by keeping their menus creative and interesting), we fight hard for a fair chance to see them all succeed.

Source: ny.remezcla.com

We thank you for taking the time to learn about food trucks from those behind the scenes. Your support and enthusiasm for NYC food trucks make the challenges we face to bring you unique and incredible dishes every day make worth it. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to sign our Petition and we will see you out on the road, foodies!

“Ten Things Food Truckers Won’t Say”, Part I

Perhaps you remember this Smart Money piece? If you never read it, it is definitely worth a look… if only so we can set the record straight. The fact is, there are no hard and fast generalities that can be made for all food trucks in all cities. Though we responded immediately via Twitter (because we did not yet have a blog) on behalf of our 42 members, we would like to address all ten points made by the author, Jonnelle Marte. Today, we’ll start with the first five points brought up in the article and on Friday we’ll finish up with the remaining five.

Source: StreetGrubEveryDay.com via Steve

“ We’re not supposed to be here.”
It’s true. The antiquated rules banning food trucks from metered parking spaces force food trucks to park illegally since it is close to impossible to find parking spaces in commercial areas that are not metered. These laws were originally created for ice cream trucks and hot dog vendors. It is time they were updated. We are currently working together to challenge the outdated legislation and also finding creative ways to work within the confines in the meantime. During the week, check out our food truck Lots located in Battery City, the South Village, Chelsea, and Long Island City or in specially-designated areas for special events such as the Madison Square Eats event (also open on weekends). You can also find some of our trucks on the weekend at Prospect Park for “Food Trucks at the Arch” and at our Food Truck Rallies.

“Your favorite restaurant hates us.”
First and foremost, competition is a part of the hospitality industry and encourages us all to better serve our guests. In the NYCFTA, we abide by a code of ethics that includes respecting restaurants. One way we demonstrate this is by not parking too close to them unless we know they do not mind. Additionally, about one-third of the NYCFTA members own brick-and-mortar restaurants so we understand both sides of this argument.

Source: StreetGrubEveryDay.com/ via Steve

“We’re not all held to the same standards.”
In NYC, regulations governing mobile food operations are quite strict and include that applicants must participate in an in-person two-day course.  Every food truck employee must have food safety training (not so for all restaurant employes). Additional licenses are also required of vendors.

“I don’t have a license.”
We cannot speak for others but all NYCFTA applicants must first agree to certain guidelines, including running permitted operations, prior to becoming a member. Most unpermitted vendors in NYC are those selling water on bridges, shaved ice in parks, or churros in the subway.

“It’s not the cleanliness of the trucks that should worry you…”
We run clean operations and we want credit! We are so confident in the cleanliness of all 42 of our food trucks and our staff that we welcome and encourage implementing letter grades like those you see in the windows of restaurants. We will show ours off proudly!

Source: StreetGrubEveryDay.com/ via Steve

Look forward to our next post this Friday when we respond to the last five statements made by Ms. Marte. Also, if you love NYC’s food trucks as much as these guys do, take a few seconds to show your support by signing our Petition!

Guest Blogger of the Week: Sejan Yun

Welcome back to the blog! We’re doing something a little different today and giving you a 15 minute podcast with Zeph Courtney of Snap Truck by our newest Guest Blogger of the Week, Sejan Yun.

 

Photo courtesy of Snap Truck.

Sejan is a videographer and graphic designer based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She started making wo/man-on-the-street videos of her fellow neighbors in 2008, posted on the now defunct but still great BushwickBK.com. Her superpower would be Wonkavision. This is her first podcast.

 

Click here for a listen: WFL_ep1_zeph_short

Visit Sejan’s website at www.sejan.info and follow her on Twitter: @sejan Learn more about Snap Truck and follow them on Twitter: @SnapTruck

 

The New Kids on the Block: Phil’s Steaks

 

If you consider yourself a food truck foodie connoisseur then there is no way you could have missed the fact that the Eighth Annual Vendy Awards were held last week on a beautifully clear Saturday afternoon. New York City’s intense cook-off between some of the best sidewalk chefs around did not fail to titillate the tastebuds of over 1000 street food fanatics with 23 food truck finalists from all over NYC trekking to Governor’s Island. Celebrity judges were on-hand to decide which of the finalists would be crowned People’s Taste Award winner, the Dessert Category winner,  Rookie Vendor of the Year winner, and The Market Vendor Award winner.

Photo courtesy of @StreetGrubSteve

The NYC Food Truck Association was incredibly proud to learn that five of our members had been nominated by the people as Vendy finalists. Andy’s Italian Ices & Espresso Bar and Coolhaus were nominated for the Dessert Category and Okadaman, Chinese Mirch, and Phil’s Steaks were nominated as Rookie Vendor of the Year contestants! By five o’clock Saturday, the votes had been tallied and the winners announced. Today, we chat with Rookie Vendor of the Year, Phil’s Steaks!

Photo courtesy of @StreetGrubSteve.

  • NYCFTA: Congratulations on your win!!!! How many votes did it take to clinch that title?
  • PS: At least one more than 2nd place vendor. Hahaha… Seriously though, I’m not sure. I haven’t heard an exact number.
  • NYCFTA: How did it feel the moment you heard you won? 
  • PS: We were all really excited – our crew too, which is why we wanted everybody on stage to share the moment.  We’ve worked very hard over the last year and it feels good to be recognized, especially when there are so many great new street vendors in NYC.
  • NYCFTA: Did you all do anything fun to celebrate?
  • PS: Phil’s knows how to party. Our celebration started in the lineup for the ferry by bumping hip hop and dancing in the street, and continued well in to the night.  We’re going to get the entire crew together for an outing in the weeks to come.
  • (Note: It’s true that Phil’s knows how to party- You’re almost guaranteed to hear music bumping from the truck anytime they’re out serving the neighborhood.)
  • NYCFTA: So tell me- what does the win mean for you? Are there plans for expansion?
  • PS:The award was a personal goal of ours and it’s great to be recognized among all the great street vendors in NYC.  We’ve been talking about our next move a lot lately, which will likely be a brick and mortar.

    Photo courtesy of @StreetGrubSteve

  • NYCFTA: Let’s go back to the beginning. Why did you get into the food truck biz?
  • PS: We drank a lot of beer one night.  Hahaha…  Seriously though, that’s kind of how it all came together.  Kevin & Mia McConnell and I had been talking about doing something in the food/restaurant business for awhile, but it was our 4th partner Jim Drew’s (the Philly guy) vision to do do the cheesesteak truck.  It had been his dream since moving to NYC.  We were all hanging out on Kevin & Mia’s roof one night and started talking about it, and before we knew it we bought a truck and things were in motion. Literally.
  • NYCFTA: Who are the people behind the wheel (and the grill) at Phil’s Steaks?
  • PS: The Phil’s crew are all long time friends which connected through the music industry.  I (J.J. Jensen) am from Petersburg, WV and met Kevin McConnell (from Alexandria, VA) in college at James Madison University.  Kevin was formerly a hip hop artist named Doujah Raze and we started Trilogy Records after college.  Doujah Raze was actively recording & releasing music and touring through 2006, but has since moved on to doing voice-over work.  You can find his voice in commercial spots ranging from Dunkin’ Donuts to ESPN. Trilogy Records spawned Foundation Media, which is a marketing & digital distribution company that I still run today.  Jim Drew (from Philadelphia, a Boston U. grad) owns and operates Soulspazm Records, which is a record label/digital distribution company.  Jim hired Foundation to help out with some of his projects many years ago and we became close friends. We still work very closely on a lot of projects.  The final piece of the Phil’s puzzle is our first lady Mia McConnell (from Toronto, an FIT grad).  She and Kevin met many years ago and have been happily married for over a year now.  The McConnells live in Manhattan and Jim and I both live in Williamsburg.  When we’re not on the truck, you’ll likely find us with our crazy group of friends – bringing the party anywhere we go.

Photo courtesy of @thewanderingeater.

  • NYCFTA: Anything else you want to add about the Vendy’s or the Jawn?
  • We just want to thank everybody who’s supported us over the last year.  We’ve come a long way very quickly.  We’d also like to thank the Vendys for putting on a great event and the NYCFTA for the guidance along the way.
We would like to thank Phil’s Steak co-founder J.J. Jensen for taking time to sit down with us today. We would also like to give a huge round of applause to the five member food trucks who were nominated for the 2012 Vendy’s as well all 42 NYCFTA member food trucks out there every day serving NYC!

 

Guest Blogger of the Week: Dan Aronoff

 

Welcome to our very first Guest Blogger edition! We’re pleased to introduce you to Daniel Aronoff, a blind food critic and chocolate fanatic. He currently resides in New York City and also has a master’s degree in social work (LMSW) which he would like to use to help people with disabilities. For more of his reviews on all different types of food around the City please visit his website, the Real Blind Taste Test, and follow him on Twitter. Take it away, Dan!

     In the pursuit of excellence in food, there is ideally room to discuss both restaurants and the more recent trend of food trucks. Last spring, I attended an event where I was introduced to this new world. I can still clearly recall perusing those 26 glorious food trucks which were lined up along two entire blocks. After happily tasting several offerings, it dawned on me that food trucks would inevitably become part of the future of dining. Here are just a few examples of why I still believe they are vitally important to the culinary landscape:

Kelvin Natural Slush:

I was instantly intrigued by the concept of slushes composed of fresh and organic ingredients. At Kelvin Natural Slush, expect a thirst quenching drink which is unlike any other; it is definitely not the stereotypical Slushy I imagined, nor like a smoothie, but somewhere delightfully in between. To create your beverage, first you must choose your base. I highly recommend combining citrus and tea to form an Arnold Palmer of sorts. Then, add in a fruit puree such as mixed berry, peach, or my favorite, both! Please forgive me for being cliché, but unique is the word which best represents this great food truck.

Sweetery:

Living with a sweet tooth can be dangerous, especially after learning firsthand about Sweetery: essentially a top of the line bakery on wheels. All of the desserts are even baked in the truck!  It is difficult to recommend only one item from Sweetery, and I have been impressed with their personable staff and mouth watering selection of products. It should also be noted that a recent slew of excellent promotions, many of which featured free baked goods, improve my opinion of Sweetery even though I had been a fan long beforehand.  New York City is home to a great number of bakeries, but Sweetery’s quality, courtesy, and convenience, exemplify why it is important to the people of our great City.

Wafels and Dinges:

Have you ever thought about how hard it is to find a really good waffle? I mean really really think about it. Certainly your local diner makes them, but Wafels and Dinges does so as well. What’s the difference? In my experience, this food truck serves waffles which taste better, are less expensive, and potentially are more convenient than many restaurants. Those three reasons are extremely powerful, especially as a budget conscious foodie on the go. In my mind, breakfast is fantastic for any meal (or snack!), and with several daily locations, Wafels and Dinges is an essential dining option for our community.

This Foodie’s Conclusion:

I truly hope that these three examples have conveyed the value and the uniqueness of food trucks. To anyone who is new to this type of dining, you should be aware of the huge variety of food offered by these trucks and that they are particularly budget friendly. My goal is to try all 42 food trucks in the NYC Food Truck Association by the end of next year, if not sooner, and I plan to get my start at the NYCFTA Rally this Sunday! Would any of you like to join me?

Thank you and enjoy your food truck finds,
Dan

Introducing…. NYCFTA Guest Bloggers!

Hello there!

We’re excited to inform you that we will soon be hosting guest bloggers… and by “soon” we mean Monday.

While we have a lot of insight on the business of food trucking, we want to hear and share the thoughts of the foodies who are out there on the streets. Some of our guest bloggers already have reputations in the foodie world while others are just getting their chops. Either way, we look forward to sharing the perspective of people who have one thing in common: their love of food truck fare and food truck culture!

If you or anyone you know is passionate about street food and interested in guest blogging, we’d love to hear from you. The more guest bloggers we have, the better! Please contact our Community Manager, Laci, at Laci@NYCfoodtrucks.org w/ “Guest Blogger” in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you!