Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
Food trucks and mobile taco catering might seem like a typically West Coast hippy-dippy fad, but it’s growing because it’s safe, legitimate – and tasty.
Once upon a time street vendors selling hot dogs, snow cones, peanuts, tamales and tacos were the humble business people of America. The expectation of the food itself was low – it was convenience they were selling. Julia Child had no hand in it.
But mobile taco catering, as with all kinds of cuisine sold from carts and trucks, has taken it to another level. Accomplished chefs are now migrating to the business for a variety of reasons, the fact that it has become lucrative being one of them. It’s not unusual for a taco catering firm that otherwise serves to large closed gatherings to also put its mobile equipment to work outside of events on streets, near concerts, nightclubs and other gatherings. Non-profits hold food truck events that have proven to be very popular and a fairly simple way to raise money.
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration indicate that mobile food vending consumers skew young, under age 45, and include both those with and without children. In the age 25-34 category, average spending from mobile vendors per person per month is about $44.
So why do taco cart caterers and other cuisine vendors succeed in a business that was largely ignored by larger companies in the past? A big part of the answer is that mobile taco caterers have raised the level of quality in the foods they have to offer. With such selections as grilled tilapia or shrimp, grilled potatoes and Caribbean carne asada, the experience goes way beyond convenience. These are gustatory experiences. Excellence in ingredient selection, preparation, creative menu offerings and the theater of presentation are important features that draw crowds.
But another part of cart catering that applies to all types of food – tacos, seafood, burgers, desserts, even escargot in a puff pastry – is to be in compliance with local business and health department codes and rules. These vary by county and municipality, but the general idea is to have a safe environment, safe food preparation and service, and employees who are educated and certified. All of which makes sense – bricks-and-mortar food businesses that have had famous food borne-illness outbreaks not only hurt individual customers but their reputation and financial health as well. Safety works in everyone’s favor.
Also in the category of bureaucracy that is good for us is food cart businesses that have proper insurance. This not only protects the cart caterer, it protects the client who hires them. In the event of any problem, everyone needs to be covered financially.
So while younger people are more comfortable with taco cart caterers and other mobile food options, their elder friends are trying it more each year. This may be because the business is proving its legitimacy – including how freshly prepared food is pretty darn tasty.