Food trucks make a comeback with neighborhood stops around Fort Worth
As a positive effect of Fort Worth’s stay-at-home order, local food trucks are experiencing a major revival. Over the past 10 years this has been a dying trend. Many mobile kitchen operators are now cranking up their engines and taking to the streets to feed insane residents who have been hiding in their homes for weeks to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
For some, the requests to visit the neighborhood – and the resulting rush of orders – have been overwhelming.
“The demand is so crazy at this point,” says Melvin Robertson, owner of Dough Boy Donuts. “It’s a lot more than I ever imagined. I’m a little overwhelmed by how I can feed all of these people without running away so quickly. “
While still running his roadside pickup store on Camp Bowie Boulevard, Robertson is trying to accommodate the numerous requests he has received for neighborhood stopovers after recently visiting Aledo, Benbrook, Ridglea and Burleson. Armed with a trailer full of prepared sausage rolls, cinnamon rolls, and donuts, he continues to quickly go through his product.
“In Burleson we were sold out in about half an hour,” he says. “It’s really hard to turn people away. We are intensifying our preparations. Everything is made from scratch, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you’re making five or six hundred sausage and cinnamon rolls, not to mention the thousands of donuts, over a four day period, it’s kind of a pain. We try, but we don’t want to compromise. “
The neighborhood business has helped Robertson bring its employees back, some of whom had to be taken down in the early days of the pandemic. He tried home delivery based on pre-orders first, but that proved cumbersome and not cost effective.
I said, ‘No more door to door. Let’s just park in one spot and let them come to us, ”he says, adding that he wants to redesign the interior of his food truck to accommodate more products.
Ramiro Ramirez, owner of Salsa Limon, a pioneer in the Fort Worth food truck scene before opening multiple brick and mortar locations, said he has seen a “massive surge” in his demand for food trucks.
“We’re setting up our routes now and staying near Fort Worth at this point, but are considering continuing based on inquiries,” he says. “The key is social media support from the neighborhoods we visit.”
Social media support has helped keep a section of the local restaurant industry afloat during the pandemic as businesses rely on Facebook and Instagram to advocate business and post weekly menu specials for roadside pickup.
However, since many residents take the opportunity to take a walk – not a drive – to pick up dinner, they turn to social media platforms like the Nextdoor app to keep up with the news of a nearby food truck visit to ask or share this.
“Personally, I’ve generally seen a sharp increase in actual visits to the neighborhood instead of booking the normal events that usually happen so often in the spring,” says Jenny Powell-Castor, owner of Luckybee Kitchen, who works for her sophisticated street food is known. “As people started seeing my efforts to find a safe and legal way to run Luckybee, the idea of rolling me into their neighborhoods seemed slowly new and efficient.”
Powell-Castor initially had a significant number of performance cancellations when she started ordering the stay at home, she says.
“It’s been a scary 48 hours of not wanting to open my email to see what was moved or canceled next,” she says. “I knew right away that I had to adapt and find a way to stay relevant.”
While Powell-Castor is busy, their business costs have increased about 20 percent due to product availability, grocery costs, increased employee safety, and take-away packaging.
“Having an individual, seasonal menu is wonderful and prevents everyone from getting bored. But it can also be a costly business model if I don’t have enough customers, ”she says.
Neighborhoods that have been encouraging them to visit lately include Tanglewood, Lake Country Estates, Stonegate Manor, the Colonial Country Club, and Live Oak Creek – to name a few.
“I’m so blessed to say the requests keep coming in,” she says, “and I have an obligation to adjust.”