Food Truck Theme Ideas and Inspiration

Ideas for Opening Your Own Food Truck

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One of the hottest trends in the restaurant business are food trucks. These mobile restaurants have come a long way since ice cream and hot dogs. Today’s food trucks run the gamut from gourmet cupcakes to sandwiches to ethnic fusion street food. If you’re thinking of opening a new restaurant, why not try a food truck? It requires far less start-up capital than a traditional sit-down restaurant and offers low overhead costs. Read on for 10 cool food truck themes to help inspire you.

  1. Barbeque. BBQ is a great restaurant because it combines low-cost food with high appeal. Carnivore BBQ out of Washington D.C. incorporates the best of Texas-style barbecue with locally sourced foods, environmentally friendly packaging.
  2. Cupcakes. This is one food trend that still has staying power. Gourmet cupcakes can be served up plain and simple or decadent. Cupcake Blvd. out of Rockville, MD offers a wide selection of gourmet cupcakes, include alcoholic specialties like mojitos and strawberries and Champagne. They also over catering services, delivering cupcakes far and wide.
  1. Ethnic Fusion. Blending one or more ethnic cuisines results in some tasty ideas. Current trends for ethnic fusion include Korean barbecue and Vietnamese cuisine. Lemongrass Truck out of DC offers traditionally prepared lemongrass chicken, in a salad or a taco, for a lunch-friendly take on international classics.
  2. Panini Sandwiches. Sandwiches go gourmet. Panini’s require minimal equipment (a Panini press or two) and offer a huge variety of dining options, ideal for the lunch crowd.
  3. Organic/ Local Fare. Local foods don't mean just salads. For example, Underdog Truck out of San Diego offers sausage sandwiches made with only locally sourced foods. Celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito has his own food truck, Now Eat This! which focuses on healthy comfort food. Not only are all the entrees less than 350 calories, the menu board has a calorie information posted on it. Cheesy turkey black bean enchiladas and faux fried general Tsao’s chicken. Read more about how to incorporate local foods into your restaurant menu.
  1. European Flavors. The Old World makes resurgence via food trucks. The Bratwurst King out of Virginia offers bratwurst (obviously), paprika chicken, Austrian goulash and homemade cakes and strudel.
  2. Regional Cuisine. Red Hook Lobster food truck brings Maine lobster to New York City. I admit, being a Mainer myself, I am kind of partial to this particular food truck theme. Red Hook Lobster offers an assortment of authentic new England specialties, from lobster rolls to clam chowder. No seafood handy? What are some regional classics in your area? Build a concept around one of those.
  1. Waffles. There are many different types of waffle trucks, from waffles and chicken to simple waffles with butter and maple syrup to gourmet waffles with blueberries with lemon cream cheese filling.
  2. Burgers. Always popular. Always a favorite. I like to say the burger is the little black dress of any menu. It can be served plain – elegant and appealing. Or it can be dressed up, though perhaps not as much as the world’s most expensive burger by NYC food truck 666, which featured a burger worth a whopping $666, topped with foie gras, caviar, lobster, truffles and aged gruyere cheese.
  1. Ice Cream. The original food truck theme. An American classic. Need I say more? A food truck is like a restaurant on wheels. It has several distinct advantages over a traditional eat-in restaurant. It can go to the customers, has low overhead, compared to a restaurant. However, a food truck is still a business that requires a lot of work and attention- especially in the first couple of years. Food truck owners put in long days and have similar problems as restaurant owners, such as slow seasons, bad weather, and a sluggish economy. Read on to find out how you can start your own food truck business.

    The current food truck trend shows no sign of slowing down. If you can dream up a menu, you can carve out a food truck business. Still, there are stronger food truck concepts than others. Ethnic cuisine, sandwiches and Mexican food are all menu concepts with demonstrable staying power. As food trucks continue to evolve, showing up in rural areas, at weddings and other private parties, so will their menus. With low start up and high mobility, food trucks offer a great way to "try out" the restaurant business without a huge investment.