Deano’s answer to: “Why do people like mobile food trucks so much?”

Two reasons:

  • People like a variety of foods, and
  • Brick and mortar restaurants have a tendency to stick to a single menu.

The combination of these two factors means that mobile food trucks have a greater ability to meet a fluctuating market demand for their food.

A taco truck can sit on the same curb for 5 years, or quickly drive a mile up the way to be the only source of mexican food in a given neighborhood. Indeed, they can do both – sticking to a few “set” locations on particular days of the week, and being more flexible, or catering specific events the rest of the time.

This is great because if the local officeworker population knows your truck will only be nearby on Thursdays, then they may well hold off on eating Mexican food the rest of the week, if they really like your truck’s tacos. This sort of “predictaburst” traffic also helps in reducing food waste loss – worst case scenario, you won’t have enough supplies, and have to close shop early.

And that’s just from the “truck perspective” – if as a worker/eater you get a different truck in your office parking lot every day, then you get the ability to eat a wide variety of lunches/snacks without travelling far… Much more so that you would get from a single café nearby. Don’t get me wrong, such establishments, done well, are sure to sustain traffic and interest – but even the best restaurants eventually “get old” after 3-4 lunch meetings there a month.

In short, food trucks have greater mobility, that helps them find friendly pockets of consumers; and diners get to mix up their cuisine routine much more than they otherwise would. Everybody wins!

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why do people like mobile food trucks so much?

Deano’s answer to: “How much impact have food trucks had on the lunch business of normal restaurants?”

How much affect has the internet had on the music/movie business?

In many senses, “none“. They are two entirely different channels. Their respective rises and falls are not correlated, for many good reasons.

In other ways, however, “huge“. It’s now possible to know in advance whether a movie/album is any good… And in some cases to even download the content itself “for free” in order to try it out, or even avoid paying for it. Still, there are solid arguments to be made that the net effect is that bad content suffers, and good content becomes more popular, faster.

Similarly, between sites like Yelp providing reputable and voluminous reviews of restaurants, and the food truck phenomenon disrupting the distribution and competition for restaurants, it’s a lot harder to “skate by” with a crappy restaurant in a convenient location… Or to open to raves in your first six months, and then allow food and service quality to backslide a bit as a profit-taking measure.

What food trucks do, primarily, is put pressure on restaurants and cafés to perform to a higher standard for their lunch crowd – and to highlight or even force out of business those businesses that fail to compete effectively. In the latter case, definitely, those restaurants lose lunch business to the food trucks, even if they have no overlap between menus.

For an example of a restaurant that “couldn’t handle the pressure”, and instead legally challenged the food truck parked outside, read on:…

In that case, the result was a backsliding of Yelp rating for the restaurant, as well as awkward search result placement:…

This answer originally appeared on Quora: How much impact have food trucks had on the lunch business of normal restaurants?