Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food Trucks Matter More Than You Realize

It's no secret to those who know me that there's always some cooking show on the TV, much to the chagrin of Amir who'd rather be watching some form of sports.  So, it should be no surprise that I'm celebrating that Chicago finally has some food trucks.  I've (over)tweeted their locations, their menus and any interesting food truck story that I can find.

What is it about these trucks that are so fascinating other than food??? There is the fun of the truck that chooses my corner and me catching the tweet at just the right time with the announcement of both menu and location.  It's not unlike the joy of hearing the Good Humor truck when we were young albeit without the tech whizz bangery.

The fun is also that dining is one of the few experiences we have where all senses are employed and multiple people can have this same concurrent, intensely human, multisensory experience.  The food truck experience is intensely social.  And it brings me back to this post from early last month which was triggered by this tweet by David Meerman Scott:

"Get out of your nice comfortable office and meet with your potential customers. Use what you learn to create valuable stuff online."

As I mentioned then, it's all well and good that I'm parked behind my laptop like many others in my quest to be all things social.  I came of age in what is now the equivalent of marketing hieroglyphics (aka direct marketing) and am making my strategic experience mesh with what I learn in the social space.

At some point, you've got to have a multisensory experience beyond the tapping of the keyboard and accelerating your (or my) need for reading glasses.  Things become more meaningful with human touch even though I've read that half of all Facebook users log in once a day and one third of time spent online is spent on Facebook.  

We still gather in person for Barcamps and ProductCamps.  We go because we want to mingle and learn from thought leaders and also meet people who are eager to learn just like us.  We like to be with originators and other users.

Let's get back to food trucks.  The chef is the originator of content, products, etc. and can certainly talk it up all she or he wants in a blog, post pictures on Facebook and tweet pictures as well.  But, really, what's the point?  Unless the chef's massively gluttonous, all of those lovely things will go to waste.  The chef has to share.

Similarly, we can sit behind our laptops while damning ourselves to the prosaic turkey on wheat come lunch.  But, we can give ourselves permission to emerge, interact with the originator, witness creativity first hand and maybe meet some new people all at the same time thereby satisfying two intensely human needs: socialization and nourishment.  And all of this happens organically because we happen to read the right tweet at the right time.

Don't believe me? Here's an exchange between Amir and Chef Phillip Foss (see below).  Amir loved his sandwich, by the way, and the joy of something different for lunch.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


  1. The sandwich was really yum. Fresh and tasty indeed! A great break away from my normal routine lunch.

  2. Unfortunately I reside in Philadelphia and since I got here we were known for our roach coaches on every corner selling crap. As a result I have passed on this whole food truck wave. They are all roach coaches to me even with all the gourmet offerings that are surfacing.

  3. As they say, different strokes for different folks. The core idea is that they draw people out for organic and social experiences which is what we should strive for as opposed to hiding behind the security of a laptop. :)

  4. The major franchise companies like Subway, Quiznos, etc. would like to thank the foodies for pioneering this new distribution channel.

    They will be taking over very soon, much to the impoverished chagrin of all existing bricks-and-mortars franchised restaurant investors.

    Renting a tradename may not for the faint-hearted or rational.

    Les Stewart MBA
    Midhurst ON Canada
    FranchiseFool : : LinkedIn

  5. Hi Les,

    Thanks for your comment! I read that companies like Sizzler are offering pop ups but I don't anticipate long term success with those gimmicks. People don't go to pop ups for the same old same old. They go for the new and different they wouldn't normally be able to get. In many cases, it's highly trained chefs offering tasty, creative well made items that are also accessible.