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Food Trucks Go Brick-and-Mortar

Yes, it’s happening. A lot of food trucks are now moving indoors; using the fame, bankability and knowledge they obtained from their mobile operations.

It turned out that operating a food truck had been a good springboard towards coming up with a sit-down brick and mortar restaurant. With an investment that is so much lesser than the capital needed to operate a small restaurant, food truck operators were able to rehearse basic restaurant operations as well as test the market for their menu.

Testing the Menu. Joe Kim, operator of Flying Pig Café food truck, had such aim in mind—he wanted to test the menu first before he takes on the enormous expense of operating a restaurant. He intended to keep the mobile venture for only six months in 2009, but the concept attracted good following. Its popularity even allowed him to get great property deals with potential landlords for his new brick and mortar restaurant, which is due to open in July.

Going after the dream. Starting out with a food truck also smoothened the way towards the dream of putting up a restaurant. Roy Choi, owner of the famous pioneering mobile eatery KogiBBQ, said that he couldn’t have done it the traditional way in 2008, the year he started his food truck.

“We only had $1,500, a career of misgivings and doubts, and no job. No one cared what we did at all,” said Choi. “The idea of putting up a restaurant at that time was a very distant dream,” he added. Now, Choi has opened two restaurants: Chego in Los Angeles and A-Frame in Culver City.

The Komodo Truck’s Eric and Erwin Tjahyadi also went after the dream of being in the food business, not just the food truck business. They do not intend to forget their roots, though; pictures of their first mobile eatery embellish their new restaurant as they pursue their dream of an eventual food empire –fine dining restaurants, a chain of take-out spots, as well as food products sold in supermarkets and grocery stores.

Other reasons. Among the other reasons for shifting to a brick and mortar restaurant is the range of menus that a full-pledged chef in elegant chef clothing can offer. Food trucks only get to serve a few items, while restaurant menus provide more range. Another big reason is somewhat obvious—seeing their customers a little drier. Food truck operators also confess to lesser profits during colder months, or during rainy days.

A new concept. Will a new concept take place? Joe Kim’s Flying Pig truck is parked in front of his new restaurant, hinting to customers that the same cuisine is being served on a more convenient sit-down setting.

And very recently, top chef winner Michael Voltaggio, in his smart chef clothing, opened a sandwich counter named ink.sack in West Hollywood, which is a brick and mortar version of a food truck. The restaurant only has a small counter space, no chairs, and has a blackboard menu filled with a delightful list of gourmet sandwiches.

Other food trucks that have gone brick-and-mortar are the Gastronomico Restaurant in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA. White Rabbit Fusion Café in Canoga Park, and Frysmith and Fukuburger, both in Hollywood.