Restaurants That Took it On the Road in a Food Truck

If you’ve walked the streets of any mid-sized or major city over the past couple of years, you’ve likely spotted a few food trucks serving lunch. Food trucks are all the rage and the trend is even attracting restaurant owners. That’s right. Food trucks now have to compete with a handful of sit-down style restaurant owners who’ve decided to try their hand at the food truck business.

Restaurant owners view the expanding food truck business as a way to grow their customer base as well as their brand. The National Restaurant Association cites a poll conducted in 2012 which showed that over 20 percent of fast casual style restaurant operators were considering implementing a food truck. The same poll found that 13 percent of family dining and quick service restaurant owners were debating whether to extend operations to a food truck. Let’s take a look at a few of the restaurants that have taken it on the road with a food truck.

Upstairs Bistro Food Truck

Those who live in the Finger Lakes region of New York state are aware of the tasty culinary creations concocted at Upstairs Bistro’s restaurant. Located on beautiful Canandaigua Lake, Upstairs Bistro is the perfect place to enjoy a casual meal with friends or family. The lake view seating is the restaurant’s hallmark along with its delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients.

To the delight of many, Upstairs Bistro has taken its act on the road with a food truck. The truck ventures around the greater Finger Lakes area serving New York-centric eats and lovely cool treats. While the Taco of the Day is one of the truck’s most popular items, regulars are preferential to the Marinated Veggie Pita with tzatziki sauce and the House Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork served on a brioche roll with baby Gouda cheese and Finger Lakes style slaw. Other menu options include the PBLT Panini which features pork belly, tomato and lettuce on sour dough bread with cheddar, pickled red onion and roasted red pepper aioli.

Chef’s

Anyone who has been to Buffalo, New York has probably heard of Chef’s. It’s the city’s best Italian restaurant for good reason. Chef’s serves heaping portions of scrumptious pasta that always hits the spot. Chef’s took note of the city’s burgeoning food truck scene and started one of its own, “Chef’s Mobile Kitchen.” This food truck has an array of menu options, many of which will appeal to the health-conscious crowd (salads, sandwiches etc). One of the truck’s highlights is the Black Bean and Corn Fritter slider. It features all sorts of amazingly tasty ingredients like chipotle aioli, guacamole, pico and cotija cheese. You can also pick up Chef’s favorites like Chicken Parmesan or Spaghetti Parmesan right out of the truck.

BannaStrow’s

BannaStrow’s has a sterling reputation throughout the greater Miami area. Company owner, Mauricio Acevedo, now offers potential franchisees the chance to operate a crepe chain from their choice of food truck. The first costs $150,000 and the second runs around $80,000. Taking the restaurant on the road wasn’t a tough decision as BannaStrow’s crepes require a few basic ingredients along with a griddle for cooking.

Corporate Food Trucks: Sizzler, Taco Bell and Applebees

Corporations are getting in on the food truck trend as well. Some use food trucks to pass out free samples, while others actually operate legitimate businesses out of these mobile units. They’ve copied the mom and pop food trucks by flocking to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to tout these new mobile food vehicles. While the Sizzler, Applebees and Taco Bell food trucks seem to be doing quite well, they are trial balloons of sorts.

These trucks really are test kitchens on wheels. The National Restaurant Association reports that a mere 6 percent of quick service style restaurants have food trucks. Less than 5 percent of fast casual style restaurants operate food trucks. Taco Bell is a pioneer in the industry, having launched its first food truck way back in the early 1990s. The company’s truck started out as a mobile unit that doled out free samples. Today, the Taco Bell food truck has its own Twitter account and makes road trips across the country every spring and summer.

Are you ready to take your restaurant on the road? Check out this new white paper we created with our friends at Vending Trucks!