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Mobile Kitchens have a Rich History and a Bright Future

For many would-be chefs who want to open a restaurant, the expense of setting up a brick and mortar establishment is just too much. But they need not give up on their dreams of owning their own eatery. Instead, they might consider opening up their business in a food truck or mobile kitchen. Growing ever more popular, these are great options for making and serving up all kinds of cuisine.

Food trucks actually have a long, colorful history, dating back to the late 1800s. As cowboys in the southwestern United States herded cattle to the east and north for sale, they would be on the trails for months at a time. Chuck wagons were set up to accompany the cowboys to provide them with meals along the way. Dried beans, cornmeal, easily preserved meats like pork and beef, coffee, and clean water were often the basis of the stock for the chuck wagons.In the more modern era, lunch trucks began popping up at blue collar job locations like construction sites and factories of various sorts. In bigger cities, food trucks on street corners offer up convenient on-the-go food at affordable prices. As their popularity spreads, food trucks are becoming more common in suburbs and smaller towns.

They have come a long way from humble beginnings. In fact, a 2009 New York magazine article stated that a food truck or mobile kitchen is “is now a respectable venue for aspiring chefs to launch careers.” Some businesses that start out in food trucks expand to several trucks or even transition to brick and mortar restaurants. Small trailers can offer coffee or doughnuts, with larger trucks offering fully functional kitchens to prepare gourmet cuisine. Many food trucks today specialize in a particular niche, such as serving gourmet burgers, seafood, vegetarian wraps, smoked barbecue, and so on. Even the ice cream truck model has been revitalized, with some trucks serving wine slushies to the adult crowd. And if the food truck is at a permanent location — a benefit for receiving supply deliveries — owners can set up outside seating to give customers a place to relax and enjoy their fare.Popular at festivals and on street corners, concession trailers are now ubiquitous. And getting started is not as big an ordeal as one might think. Specialized food truck retailers will customize a truck for a start-up business, often including help with concept development as well as outfitting the truck for business. And starting a food truck business costs a mere fraction of the expense of setting up a brick and mortar restaurant.

A 2015 report in Mobile Cuisine states that food trucks and concession trailers are now part of a $1.2 billion industry in the United States. For those considering getting into the food business, a food truck or concession trailer is worth some investigation.

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