Street Eatin'

Food Trucks as Brand Builders

Local four-wheelers think beyond the street.

By Christopher Werner September 1, 2011

Street Treats owner Diane Skwiercz (center) in her Seattle brand mobile. Photo courtesy

On Tuesdays Diane Skwiercz, owner of the food truck Street Treats (and maker of ice cream sandwiches pregnant women crave), loads a van with biscotti, Russian tea cakes, and perhaps some cookies. They’ll then get dropped off at coffee shops round town. Skwiercz estimates she regularly bakes for between eight and 10 cafes; when she started this wholesale leg of her business last September she had only one client.

Hers is a type of thinking we’re really seeing hatch in Seattle, that a food truck is more than a curbside kitchen you park here or there several times a week. Rather, it’s a brand builder. For instance:

Many four-wheelers merchandise clothing (including sassy underwear) or their condiments—like its predecessor bacon jam, Skillet ’s pumpkin ketchup is destined to be a big hit. In February Parfait ice cream initiated home delivery for eight Seattle neighborhoods, and Marination Mobile has toyed with the idea too. Catering is par for the course for most; then there’s Josh Henderson, who just launched a Skillet outfit to feed movie and photo sets specifically. (He’s also penning a cookbook about his curbside days.) For weeks now TV vet Matthew Lewis of Where Ya At Matt has jockeyed for the title of America’s favorite truck in a Food Network–sponsored contest.

Perhaps the most obvious brand boost is the brick-and-mortar offshoot, a handful of which we’ve seen open in the past year (with more to come). It’s a natural next step, but not one Skwiercz has contemplated much. For now she’s content growing out her wholesale business. That entails scouting places like Metropolitan Market and half delis to see what sorts of niches she could fill. Or outsourcing fluff to Bluebird for its S’more Wilderness ice cream and testing recipes for new retail-only offerings. Banana and zucchini loaves are the current considerations.

Then again, when Skwiercz went mobile in June of 2010 a wholesale branch was never part of her plan, so who knows where we’ll see Street Treats—or any of the above trucks—in the next year or two.

“The food truck/cart business is still a new and emerging business model for Seattle,” says Skwiercz. “The possibilities are endless.”

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