Started in 2016, the Where’s the Food (WTF) mobile food vendor in Fresno hits a local event.
Written by Frank Lopez
Have you thought about launching your own food truck, but don’t know where to start?
A Mobile Vendor Summit will be held at the UC Merced Center for Educational Partnerships in Fresno on Dec. 10.
The summit is being organized by Cultiva la Salud, a nonprofit, community-based organization that aims to create health equity in the San Joaquin Valley, fostering changes for communities to support healthy eating and active living. This will be its first mobile vendor summit.
The summit will offer information on different aspects of running a mobile vendor food business such as steps required for permitting and certifications, marketing, ordinances, financing and insurance.
“We know that there are a lot of people interested in starting mobile food businesses,” said Veronica Chavez, a community organizer for Cultiva la Salud. “There are a lot of steps that you need to go through to get there, so we hope that folks could walk away with a good idea of what the process looks like and tangible next steps they can take to get their businesses off the ground.”
Food trucks have been growing in popularity in recent years. According to foodtrucknation.us, there has been a 300 percent increase in revenue for food trucks in the past three ears, reaching $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017.
While there might be less overhead costs and requirements to open up a food truck than a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant, the process is still far from easy.
Henry Wickman, owner of Where’s the Food?, a food truck commonly referred to as “WTF”, has been operating in Fresno since 2016. He said that though it cost less upfront to open a mobile vendor business, there were other challenges.
“Some of the biggest challenges were trying to come up with the menu, trying to figure out what we wanted to sell, and what would sell to the general consumer,” Wickman said. “Also, preparing the food and giving it to customers in a timely manner, and finding venues. A lot of food trucks when they first start out, they get stuck working the street, they find a corner and get stuck there. We were fortunate enough that we could find a number of public and private events.”
Wickman said that permits for the city come with stringent code enforcements on where you can and can’t operate, and for how long, and that in a year, one will spend thousands of dollars just for permitting.
Raw Fresno started off as gourmet raw/vegan food truck five years ago and has since opened up a restaurant location in Fresno.
Naomi Hendrix, owner and chef of Raw Fresno, intended on first opening a truck and launching a restaurant later on. She hears people say that starting a food truck is easy, but her experience leads her to disagree.
“It really is almost exactly like a restaurant,” Hendrix said. “I designed my own truck, so I had to get state authorization, and city and county, and it was two different set of rules. One I could pass, the other I couldn’t. It was very interesting, but difficult.”
Since Hendrix deals with fresh, raw food that requires no cooking, she says cleaning is a bit easier for her, but also says she cant imagine the cleaning process for other food trucks, and keeping in line with health codes.
The summit will be held on December 10, from 9 am to 2 pm at the UC Merced Center for Educational Partnerships at 550 E Shaw Ave, Suite 105, in Fresno.
For more information, visit www.cultivalasalud.org.