“Roach coaches” are what we called them when we were teenagers in Los Angeles. Not an appetizing term for an eatery and it’s farthest from the truth for the trucks in Los Angeles. Whatever you want to call these meals on wheels, they have become a local staple of today’s dining experience. The options are endless and with Facebook and Twitter you can find your favorite food truck by using their mobile phone apps.
Foodies, like myself, love to discover, through social media, any eat-on-the-street, inexpensive made-to-order food. Independent-minded cooks find a food truck an appealing alternative to owning a stationary restaurant which carries high overhead costs. You can find anything from Sudhi burritos, Korean tacos, empanadas and soul food.
Some trucks are using social media and the web marketing to promote their food and locations in the city. The most popular roving catering trucks maintain a following by using Twitter to let their fans know where they can catch their latest Korean taco or get their coconut cupcake fix. Following these mobile eateries on Twitter can have added bonuses of letting you in on where all the hottest Los Angeles events are happening. Since the trucks follow the crowds you're sure to get anywhere from a nightclub event, festival, or free concert by following their lead.
Local health departments do not make an industry distinction, so like any food business; the trucks are monitored by the local health departments. Trucks that use propane for cooking need to also be inspected by the fire department. A permit from the police department is required before a truck can even set up in a location. In June 2010 food trucks were in limbo because a council member passed two motions that could have lead to the trucks being banned in the streets. However, an on online petition "against any city bill that would limit access to the food trucks" had racked up 2,000 digital signatures in just three days.
People are devoted followers of their food truck, and be it social media, or word of mouth their truck can go from a roach coach to gourmet food truck in no time at all. I, for one, miss my Vietnamese Ban Mi sandwich truck in China Town the owner was saving money for a restaurant so we had to wish him the best and now I’m looking for a new $3 sandwich. I have to admit that I have not eaten from the famous gourmet Ludo Truck, so I can't tell you if it's any good.
You will however, see me standing in the long line to experience Chef Ludo Lefebvre (Top Chef Masters) in action this summer at the LA Street Food Fest.
What are your opinions on "roach coaches," gourmet food trucks, and mobile eateries? Should they stay, or go?