When I lived in Philadelphia I survived on food truck food. My go-tos were an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich for $2.50, a bowl of spaghetti for $4.50, and a pretty substantial chicken burrito for somewhere around $5 or $6. The food was good. It was filling. And it was all priced perfectly for a poor student, which I was at the time.
I still remember when Renzo Piano came to the University to talk about potentially renovating the design school. Somebody stood up and asked if he had considered the placement of food trucks in his plans. Piano responded by saying: “I am Italian. Don’t worry. I will provide for the food.” This is how ingrained food trucks were and are in the culture of the city.
The other great thing about these food trucks is that they are a low-cost way of starting your own culinary business. Many were run by immigrants. And some of these “trucks” were so small that I used to have to duck in order to make my way to the concession window. There was nothing fancy about them. But they worked.
These days I don’t really eat at food trucks anymore. They are not as widespread here in Toronto as they are in Philly. I also find them expensive and the portions are usually so small that you have to order 2 or 3 things. They feel like the anti-food truck.
I appreciate that there’s a growing market for trendy and “gourmet.” But there’s value in low-cost options and in lowering the barriers to entry for aspiring food entrepreneurs. There are numerous examples of humble food trucks growing into full fledged restaurants. Let’s encourage more of that.