'Rolling restaurants' hit the streets


Wingzza at Bar Camp in 2010 (Photo credit: English Invader)

An article on MSNBC.com about "Rolling Restaurants" reminded me of the recent brouhaha in Charlotte over food trucks (which we wrote about last year). Not every city is interested in them, which is strange since they seem like a convenient and often creative way to feed the masses.

Here's a snippet from the article, by Kari Huus, that helps explain why some cities are food-truck shy as well as why some food vendors are hella cool:

Craving a gourmet meal on the fly? Food trucks plying American streets are delivering increasingly varied and sophisticated fare to the urban palate. Mobile kitchens offer hamburgers made from grass-fed cows, artisan breads, ethnic blends like Korean tacos and gourmet dishes that stand up next to fine fare from the brick-and-mortar sector.

The explosion contributes color and variety to cities, arguably invigorating urban spaces in a tough economy. But the popular trucks also present new problems — traffic and sanitation issues and resistance from traditional restaurants. So, while some cities are loosening restrictions on food trucks, others are revising and updating legislation to control the growth.

But supporters say food trucks bolster chefs and entrepreneurs who don't have the funds to start full-blown restaurants. Existing restaurants also can use food trucks to test recipes and neighborhoods to see what resonates with consumers before jumping into a brick-and-mortar commitment, they say.

“It’s a great entrepreneurial move for someone who wants to start a restaurant when credit is tight… Also for consumers because they tend to be very affordable (and) convenient — they come to you, if you will,” said Annika Stensson, director of media relations at the National Restaurant Association. "And they have a lot of exciting menu items."

And, in case you're wondering about Charlotte's food trucks, check out the August issue of Charlotte magazine for their reviews. Here's one:

Holy Matrimony Wingzza Truck

The Food: Wings and Pizza

Best Dish: The Carolina Buffalo Wings offer a local, barbecue-flavored twist on the traditional buffalo wing sauce

Fun Fact: This former corporate executive creates six different sauces from scratch for both the wings and the pizza.

Find It: On Twitter at @WingzzaTruck

Read the rest of the reviews, by Michelle Boudin, here.

In related news, LocalHarvest.org is conducting a local food survey. Participate here.

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