Street Eatin'

Does a TV Appearance Boost a Food Truck’s Business?

Not surprisingly, the answer is yes. But by how much?

By Christopher Werner November 10, 2011

Marination’s Kamala Saxton, TV star.

Recently Lee Scott of Snout and Co. found himself filming with the show Eat St. It’s not the first time the street food series has shot in these parts. Last year Where Ya At Matt landed considerable camera time, as did the ladies of Marination, Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton.

By this point those two were old hands at TV hamming—you’ll recall they made quite an impression on Good Morning America. Curious to learn how airtime affects business, I asked Saxton, What can Scott expect after his episode screens?

A surge in sales. “It happens almost immediately,” Saxton says of the boom in customers. She estimates sales climbed by 25 to 35 percent post-broadcast. When a rerun airs there’s also an increase.

Getting recognized in random places. Saxton recalls trying on shoes in Vancouver, BC when a salesperson stopped and asked, Do you sell tacos? She still occasionally gets comments.

Long, long lines. Other mobile outfits have found the onslaught of new customers disastrously overwhelming. Saxton didn’t find the response that unbearable but acknowledged: “There’s a good chance you’ll run out of food on a nice day.” Couple that with national attention and “you’re guaranteed to run out of food.”

A host of out-of-towners. Saxton largely credits the business boom to visiting gastrophiles. (She still laughs about the 75-year-old woman who saw the truck on the boob and came for tacos.) “It’s great for the city and obviously great for the business,” Saxton says. But when the lines are long and you’re running out of food, you have to be careful not to alienate your bread-and-butter base. “There is this feeling that I’ve got to feed the city I’m doing business in.”

More attention from national media. In December or January Marination is slated to appear on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. Marination also was spotlighted in Zagat’s best restaurants roundup for 2011.

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