Street Eatin'

Where Do Food Truckers Find Their Trucks?

It’s often a long, complicated process.

By Christopher Werner March 30, 2012

Off the Rez: What was once a linen hauler is now a food truck.

Over on the Facebook page of Monte Cristo, Danielle Custer has been chronicling her adventures in launching a food truck. She touches on the finances, the menu, and a launch date, but one of the biggest points of discussion is finding the truck itself. When I asked Custer last week how the hunt was going, she replied with "not fast enough."

Most of the trucks colonizing our streets come from Craigslist. The now-retired (tear) Damiana’s Blue Truck Special was a former plumbing mobile, for instance. Off the Rez was once a linen hauler. Custer, too, is scouring the forum but the search has proved difficult. Ten months ago trucks were going for about a third of the cost and were much more plentiful, she said.

When one does finally encounter a set of wheels it’s not necessarily a sealed deal. Just like when a restaurateur eyes a potential space, there are logistics to consider: size and nimbleness, gas and mileage costs, how old the engine is and whether it’ll need repairing soon, how much retrofitting will need to happen.

The next step is making the ride road-ready. Most truckers opt to outfit the operation themselves, which is cheaper but can slow down things. Otherwise they turn to businesses dedicated to the manufacturing of mobile kitchens. That, too, gets complicated (not to mention pricey).

Many of these businesses have popped up across the country, but the Seattle area has yet to see one. That means operators must look out of state. Common options include the California-based Armenco or Northwest Mobile Kitchens in Portland, though others, like the Texas-built RollinQ, look further afield.

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