Does a food truck culture exist in Dallas? It’s certainly a growing trend. With city hall’s recent ordinance changes, several new food trucks have taken to the streets. However, these are not your typical greasy hot dog vendors (though Randy Wolken, franchisee of Gandolfo’s New York Deli Truck, claims to serve a delicious “Nathan’s Famous” hot dog).
Indeed, “gourmet” more aptly describes these meals with wheels. Examples of such cuisine are Nammi Truck’s banh mi — a Vietnamese sandwich piled with fresh cucumbers, cilantro, carrots, jalapeños, and fresh meat or tofu — and Ssahm’s Korean BBQ Truck’s Kimchi fries — fresh cut fries drizzled with caramelized kimchi, cheese, onions, spicy mayo and the customer’s choice of meat.
Because of the roving nature of food trucks, their loyal fans track them on Twitter and Facebook.“That’s how 75 percent of our customers find us,” Gary Torres of Nammi says.
The trucks have made frequent stops in our neighborhood in the parking lots of Sigel’s on both Greenville and Fitzhugh. Jasper Russo of Sigel’s says the food trucks are welcome in his company’s lots because “we’re hoping that food trucks will bring customers to our stores, and we’ll bring customers to them.”
Running a startup food truck does have its challenges. “My business partner and I each lost 15 pounds in the first two weeks because of the heat,” Joey Hong of Ssahm’s says. But architect-turned-owner of Nammi Truck Teena Nguyen explains why food truck entrepreneurs keep at it: “With a food truck, you’re out among the people. It’s more fast-paced, more social. You’re eye-to-eye with the customers. I really like the culture.”
Food trucks of the more permanent variety will soon sit on the former spot of Arcadia Theater on Lower Greenville. Construction for Arcadia Food Park is underway, and six Airstream trailers will open for business at the beginning of 2012.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.