America’s going mobile, and it’s not just with smartphones, laptops and iPads, but for food—specifically food trucks offering everything from hot dogs and fancy ethnic entrees to gourmet desserts. And all of it at pretty reasonable prices.
I like to think of myself as something of an aficionado of “street food” having sampled fare from more food stalls and carts then I care to admit everywhere from Paris to Bangkok to Mexico City. And since I’m a New Yorker, street vendors are simply something I grew up with. I can tell you where to get the best hot dogs and souvlaki, but I’ve never been to the Russian Tea Room.
I’ve talked about this before in this blog and other columns. But the potential of this trend bears repeating. Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and even a site called Mobilecravings.com will fill you in on where your favorite mobile munchies are at any given time in any city. The restaurant industry is already taking this seriously, devoting space at the NRA trade show to the mobile food business.
They see it as a potential game changer for franchising, but also as a way to bump up away-from-home dining. I’m not suggesting that retail players like Safeway, Kroger or Wegmans roll out their own fleets of food trucks. But maybe there’s a co-branding or partnership opportunity here that would keep retail brands top-of-mind with people every day or to promote new stores or for manufacturers to promote new lines.
Of course, there’s the dark side to all this. That is the inability to control quality or food safety. Maybe so. But if everyone thought like that no one would have prepared meal programs in the stores.