The food truck business in Toronto has experienced a boom over the past couple years as chits line mobile passes and cash is exchanged for curbside delights across the downtown core. Following the city’s failed A La Cart program in 2010, the street truck movement has been revolutionized as of late. Though the culture and curiosity surrounding these mobile eateries has taken off, street truck operators are still met with a considerable amount of red tape. Yet, while finicky permitting and geographic constraints remain, there will soon be a new way for consumers, operators, and even prospective food truckers to get in on the action.
Roaming Hunger began in 2009 by serial entrepreneur Ross Resnick. A food fanatic to the core, Resnick became more involved in the “new foodie revolution” while attending USC in Los Angeles. He noticed there was no central location to find out about food trucks, thus inspiring him to found Roaming Hunger.
Resnick developed an algorithm to aggregate all food truck locations on a map from their tweets. This was just the beginning of Roaming Hunger’s menu of fine services for the food trucking community. As private catering became a focus for many food trucks, Roaming Hunger started a unique food truck catering department – another first of its kind.
Since then Roaming Hunger has started to rev their creative engines, helping food trucks with branding, marketing and advertising across 35 US cities as well as Vancouver. The latest addition to Roaming Hunger’s resume is the development of a full-scale online food truck marketplace.
Launched on December 13th in Los Angeles, the marketplace is the only online destination for restaurateurs looking to buy, sell and build food trucks. The marketplace features exhaustive details including make, model, modifications, pictures and more. It’s essentially an “Autotrader for food trucks,” as described by Lindsey Hopkins, who heads up the division at Roaming Hunger.
From custom mobile kitchen designs to helping new food truck owners secure financing, Roaming Hunger is capitalizing on an industry that’s showing no signs of stepping on the brakes.
“In 2009, it was the wild wild west,” says press liaison Ryan Carlin. “Wrapped, gourmet food trucks were following in the footsteps of Kogi BBQ and serving up random spots throughout Los Angeles. They were the hippest new food trend.
“After speculation that food trucks were just a fad, 2012 was the year they were cemented as legitimate businesses. People started trusting food trucks so much they started booking them for private events.”
Though Toronto’s food truck scene has not reached the breadth of pioneering cities like LA, Portland and Seattle, food trucks have become a jumping off point for Torontonians looking to start their careers in the restaurant business.
“Food trucks play a big part in the advancement of food marketing,” explains Carlin, “especially when restaurateurs are using food trucks as a tool to launch brick and mortar.”
As truckers turned restaurateurs like Matt Basile (Fidel Gastro’s/Lisa Marie), Krystian Catala and Terry Nicolaou (Gourmet Gringos) and others are taking their businesses to a new level, it will be interesting to see what may come of a service like Roaming Hunger to the Toronto market. With 30 trucks needed to get rolling in the new year (there are currently 28 food trucks operating in Toronto) more accessible entry into the market makes for a tasty prospect for diners and dreamers alike.