From Food Trucks to Food Halls: The Future of the Food Truck Scene 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.
Ando Muneno What's next for food trucks in Phoenix?
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.
"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."