From Food Trucks to Food Halls: The Future of the Food Truck Scene in Phoenix

Food Trucks
Ando Muneno
What's next for food trucks in Phoenix?
It's been years since food trucks exploded onto the mainstream dining scene. Three years ago they were all the rage, spawning television shows, cook books, and festivals all over the country. In 2011 the Phoenix Street Food Coalition counted less than ten members; today there are more than 60 trucks in the group. And new trucks are applying every week.

But is this trend doomed? Can it really last in a city where summers mean 104 degree heat outside and temperatures as high as 150 inside a food truck? I set out to get some answers and an idea of what the future of street food might look like in the Valley.

See also: 5 Things Food and Drink Lovers Need in Metro Phoenix Right Now

"The novelty has definitely worn off," says Luncha Libre owner Kim Cobb, referring to general interest in food truck dining.

Kim and husband/chef Tim have been running their truck since November 2011 so they've seen the craze peak and then peter out. But that doesn't mean they're thinking of cutting out -- or going brick and mortar -- any time soon. Though Kim says they're not interested in opening a traditional restaurant, she also says they see the truck as a sustainable business.

That's because they're starting to shift their focus. The Cobbs will be spending the summer focusing on the catering side of their business. They recently acquired a kitchen space that will allow them to prep food outside of their truck. Doing so will allow them to set up and pack up faster, making Luncha Libre more efficient.

Michael Brown of Jamburritos is taking a similar approach. About a month ago he got a commissary space where he can prep and cook food off his truck. He's purchased a second trailer and is investing in rewrapping the original Jamburritos truck. He'll also be looking to break into the catering scene this summer (he even hired a catering sales manager), but is also planning to start breakfast service and is looking to open his first brick and mortar restaurant.

"Having been out here for almost four years, there are still many challenges," Brown admits. "But we're kind of like a sleeping giant."

Location Info

Map

Luncha Libre

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Jamburritos

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant


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14 comments
blake.beal
blake.beal

Did you see the plans for the new Margaret T. Hance Park? Food Truck Court. And the De Soto Building on the SW corner of Central and Roosevelt? This is already in the works, Lauren. Very exciting for our city. 

Rafael Romero
Rafael Romero

16th Street and Van Buren's La Frontera has been doing it right for years. The ONLY food truck that I have enjoyed every single time.

benln
benln

How the hell is J-Licious Tasty Teazy Taque still open?

Ryan Gielow
Ryan Gielow

LOL thank you for saving me the time of reading this LOL

Niki Toland
Niki Toland

Every Friday Trucks gather at The Capital., as well as Friday nights in Downtown Gilbert., and every Saturday in Scottsdale on Goldwater and 5th. Come out and Support Your Local Business Owners! Say NO To Corporate Food!

Staci Lichterman
Staci Lichterman

Food trucks aren't going to disappear any time soon. They are a good way for someone to get a concept off the ground. It will be interesting to see how some of the more established food trucks evolve and grow their businesses.

Drew Rotherham
Drew Rotherham

Trend? Maybe for hipsters and Scottsdale-douchebags; but for blue collar workers they are part of the daily routine.

Marty Ercoline
Marty Ercoline

really? You HAD to stretch out THAT far to make a story??

Alison
Alison

Isn't that kind of what they're aiming for with the DeSoto building?

limonada
limonada

was at la frontera today. always great food, and another good thing about it... no foodfags.

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