CASSANDRA JENKINS — Benefits to food truck operations in small towns

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Food trucks have been a hot topic in Southeast Texas over the past several months, with the most recent discussion coming from the Groves City Council that brought the decision to Monday night’s meeting for debate.

The topic has been heavily discussed in lieu of the city of Nederland’s decision to test out a 12-month pilot program, but a majority of conversation steers against the long-term use. However, there are many unforeseen benefits to food truck operations besides it being cheap, bringing variety and versatility.

Food trucks have a higher success rate.

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According to Apex Specialty Vehicles, the rate of success within a restaurant’s first year is around 35-40 percent. Food trucks have a great success rate simply because the investment is much smaller starting out than investing in a brick-and-mortar restaurant right away.

While many argue that food trucks take away business from pre-established locations, an investor is more likely to capitalize his or her time and money into a venture that has already proven to be successful. A food truck is a great way to show individuals can run a business before they move on to become a town’s permanent fixture.

Cost also plays a large role in the food truck vs. brick-and-mortar debate.

The average brick-and-mortar restaurant start-up is around $500,000. The initial investment of a food truck ranges from $40,000 to $200,000. Operating a food truck can allow individuals to save money for their potential restaurant quicker, bringing business ventures to the forefront.

It’s also a stepping stone to expansion and family-owned businesses.

In small towns such as Port Neches, Groves and Nederland, family-run hometown businesses are everything. Every dollar spent within the city counts and goes toward the betterment of the people and the community they live in, but it’s no secret that starting a business from one’s own pocket is hard.

Transitioning from an in-home bakery or selling customized items off of Facebook to running an outright storefront can seem impossible. Having a slightly larger and portable option is a step toward those goals in a less daunting way.

For example, in 2018 a Houston newspaper reported on 11 food trucks that became brick and mortar restaurants in the Houston area, including burger barns, barbecue joints, falafel trucks, Vietnamese vendors and more.

All 11 food trucks operated in Houston and chose to build their restaurants within the city limits.

So while there are drawbacks to consider in the great food truck race, there are also many benefits to consider as well.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at