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    Will Detroit Become America’s Next Food Truck City?

    For a city to have food trucks, it needs to have walkable destinations. In Austin, TX, food truck parks have sprouted up in the lots beside areas of commerce — near office plazas, farmer’s markets, on bar patios, and anywhere else where people might be walking around hungry. Detroit faces a unique issue with food trucks: The city was built for cars more than pedestrians. However, this week, Detroit is attempting to break the world record for most food trucks in one place during the River Days festival.

    If food trucks are to become a part of our growing downtown landscape, there are a few things small business owners can keep in mind.

    What is the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally?

    From June 21-23, the 13th Annual River Days festival will be taking place at the West Riverfront Park. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy (DRC) has organized the festival with Soaring Eagle Casino and Kroger as sponsors. The event will feature games, live music, and a zip line. In addition, the DRC has partnered with a group called Generation Entertainment Florida to host The World’s Largest Food Truck Rally.

    Generation Entertainment set the current record for most food trucks in a single place in 2014 when they gathered 120 of them at the Florida State Fairgrounds. In Detroit, they aim to break that record and have invited trucks from all over the country to participate.

    Detroit riverfront

    Image by xiquinhosilva via Flickr

    What does this mean for Detroit?

    Many food trucks are run by entrepreneurs who either own a restaurant and want to expand or who might be newcomers to the industry and want to try their hand at serving food without the commitment of a brick-and-mortar establishment. Their mobile businesses can be beneficial to the communities they serve, which is why we’ve put together some pointers for food truck owners as well as the commerce-driven communities welcoming them in.

    Food Truck Owners: Things to Keep in Mind

    If you’re contemplating starting a food truck or you already own one, there are a few things to consider.

    For one, social media is important for a business that doesn’t have a permanent location. Creating signage with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram information can help customers keep tabs on where you’ve parked your business as well as what’s on your menu that day. Yelp is also a powerful tool for food-service businesses. A sign or a vinyl decal reminding diners to leave a review for your truck can help build a positive online reputation as your fanbase grows.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that many food truck owners opt to buy older vehicles to save money, especially if they don’t plan on moving around a lot. But old trucks likely have worn-down paint as well as other aesthetic imperfections. A vehicle wrap is a quick and easy way to spruce up the truck while also updating its colors to those that align with your branding.

    Food truck

    Image by Tammy Gordon via Flickr

    Benefits For Small Business Owners

    For those who aren’t in the food service industry, there are other things to keep in mind about food trucks.

    As mentioned above, cities like Austin that have a strong food truck presence benefit from these mobile businesses being around in a few key ways. The first benefit, most simply, is that they give consumers a quick place to grab a bite to eat as they walk around and shop. Unlike quick-service restaurants, food trucks take up way less space, relying on their guests to eat on the go or to find seating at public benches/tables.

    Because of the small amount of space they take up, food trucks can easily be set up in a few empty parking spots. With the right permits, small business owners can easily lease free spaces to truck owners. Not only will the business make a little extra money every month but the food truck will also draw more people to the businesses surrounding it.

    Can Detroit Become a Food Truck City?

    In short, we think it’s very possible Detroit could become a home for mobile restaurants. But for food trucks to be successful, their cities need to create more walkable areas for pedestrians. With public space like Campus Martius, the parks along the riverfront, Eastern Market, and the Dequindre Cut growing in popularity, it seems like only a matter of time before more mobile food spots pop up to feed hungry Detroiters.

    Featured image by CityOfStPete via Flickr
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