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Hard Truck Story: Five DFW Food Trucks Are Down and Out

Five food trucks off the road in DFW.

Last year at this time there were two food trucks in Dallas and a smattering of trucks and trailers in Ft. Worth.  Green House was operating in University Park and City Street Grille was permitted in Dallas.  Fort Worth had a more thriving community:  TacoHeads had been up and running since May 2010.  May 2011 was a turning point in Dallas:  Nammi, Gandolfo’s, and Jack’s Chowhound started serving.

My latest DFW food trucks count follows: 63 active food trucks/trailers, 10 announced and rolling soon, 13 have opened and closed, and another 6 that are MIA (they announced their business only to disappear.)  Many of the food truck operators are innovative, great cooks but they lack the experience of running the entire operation themselves.

Operating a food truck is  tougher than it sounds. Not only does one have to serve good food, operators must manage schedules, fix engines and transmissions, fill propane tanks, and deal with the weather conditions that range from rain to high temperatures.  One operator became so overwhelmed on a hot day he had to lie down and on the floor of his truck and cry it out. He quit the business.

Recently had five food trucks in DFW are off the roads and re-evaluating their business plans, including two of the top food trucks in the DFW Metroplex.  Jump to see who have put their food trucks in (P).

City Street Grille is going on hiatus while owners Hunter Johnson and Jessica Smith turn to different opportunities.  They will keep the CSG concept while selling the physical truck.  Hunter will be taking the knowledge learned over the last couple of years and begin to build custom trucks for other people.   Jessica is turning her attention to the long established Bob’s Steak & Chop House on Lemmon Ave, where she is a part owner.

The Munch Box was a Ft. Worth-based food truck until it was crippled when some sugar caught fire while they were making Rice Krispie treats. The fire suppression system didn’t kick in properly.  Owners Rob Vassilakos and Eric Foster have shipped the truck off to premiere retrofitter Cruisin’ Kitchens in San Antonio to be rebuilt. While Munch Box was a high end retrofitted truck, the aisle clearance didn’t conform to Dallas standards so they couldn’t operate here. Rob and Eric are not letting a little fire stop them. They are taking the time to regroup and look at new concepts and grow the overall business.  They anticipate selling the original truck, but have other ideas for turning “Munch Box” into a partnership with multiple concepts planned.  The first one will be Slushworks, a beverage truck with fresh slush drinks and juices.  Dallas/Ft. Worth … Summer … 120 degree temperature … Slushies = Brilliant in it’s simplicity.  Rob and Eric expect to roll with Slushworks in early summer.

Little Vessel Grill shut down last week.  Chef/owner Mike Brown had one of the more innovative menus, but found operating a food truck to be uniquely challenging.  Going forward, he’ll focus on the catering side.

Crazy Sisters wants to sell their food truck along with equipment, brand, website, and all other assets.  They are still out at highly profitable special events, but are otherwise seeking a buyer.  They tell me the business is just too hard.

Rollin’ Diner in Ft. Worth had a food trailer, but decided that they needed a truck instead.  So they sold the trailer, retrofitted a truck, and before they even got rolling with the truck, have decided to sell.  We don’t have a specific reason though that they are selling out.

10 comments on “Hard Truck Story: Five DFW Food Trucks Are Down and Out

  1. Pretty sure I got a mild case of food poisoning from the munch box after eating a sandwich with raw chicken. That was a bummer!

  2. I tried several including the ‘big’ ones and wasn’t impressed enough to put the effort into tracking them down again. Was a good fad while it lasted.

  3. There are numerous Mexican food trucks traveling between new-home construction sites doing a profitable business. I have seen some of the same trucks for years. Their only advertising may consist of a simple name written on the doors, not intended to be memorable.

    They have the same simple, utilitarian design with quilted aluminum sides and back that open up to display the food and drinks. Sales are made in cash, and everything seems to be priced an even number of dollars for fast, convenient service during the peak lunch hour. Very efficient and economical, and maybe not officially permitted. Like the push-cart vendors of genuine street tacos.

    And the fresh, daily, hand-made, home-made, Mex or Tex-Mex food tastes better than food from a vending machine or a franchise convenience store. These Mexican food trucks are survivors and appear to have mastered this particular niche in the food industry.

    The American “entrepreneurs” who didn’t survive in this business didn’t have a viable business model and appear to have pursued conflicting goals. They did not understand the economics of the business, and they did not know where they could add value.

  4. City street grille – so ur saying “turn her attention to Bob’s” is an excuse? If you can’t make it as a food truck, how can you make it with a steakhouse. LMFAO!!

  5. Pingback: Five Dallas Food Trucks Are Down and Out | Mobile Cuisine | Gourmet Food Trucks, Carts and Street Eats

  6. It would seem that in Texas food trucks are going to have some issues in the Summer. I do not plan on waiting outside in 100+ degrees for my order.

  7. In Austin when you are walking and shopping on S. Congress a food truck is great to take a break and have a drink/light lunch etc. In Marfa the Food Shark is great because there is covered seating and there aren’t a ton of restaurants around. In Dallas I like it when there is a truck outside the Contemporary or a gallery opening but I can’t see driving somewhere to park and order at a food truck. I think it is the lack of walkable neighborhoods that make it so hard to do one in Dallas.

  8. Kadie… The Munch Box uses immersion circulators and cryovac bags which completely eliminates any possibility of bacteria growth. Circulators cook and hold food to the perfect temperature. However, the sous vide method can sometimes break down tissue and make the meat too soft or even leave it slightly pink in appearance. This might come across as undercooked but using the circulator eliminates the possibility of food poisoning. We checked out their truck and have to say…these guys do it right. I just hope they come back…but I’ll take a slush while I wait. If you get a chance to have Rob’s ravioli…I think it’s the best I’ve ever had! Give em a try again when they come out.

  9. Pingback: Food and fun throughout DFW | RENTCafe rental blog