Recession Drives Restaurateurs, Diners To Trucks

Every Thursday night, Lonnie Bishop and Lisa Case have a dinner date. For $5 each, the couple dines on fancy hot dogs served from a food truck parked outside their favorite wine shop in Los Angeles reports Reuters.

The fire engine-red truck labeled “Let’s be Frank” is part of a growing fleet of mobile food vendors that serve tasty and inventive fare, often organic.

The trend has drawn entrepreneurs looking for opportunities in the recession and diners seeking cheap eats.

The new vehicles raise the bar from the traditional “taco trucks” that sell mainly Mexican fare at construction sites and in neighborhoods in U.S. cities with big Latino populations.

Their menus are wildly different, attracting adventurous foodies with unusual items: tacos filled with Korean-style barbecued meat, vegan burgers, sushi, cupcakes, and architecturally inspired ice cream sandwiches.

With the economic downturn, restaurateurs have struggled to find funding to open full-scale restaurants, said Tom Forte, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group in New York City.

The cost of setting up an eatery on wheels is a fraction of what’s needed to open a sit-down restaurant, Forte said, noting it takes $900,000 to open a Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Photo by Reuters.

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