5 Benefits of Adding a Food Truck to Your Brick-and-Mortar Restaurant

A food truck could be your restaurant’s best marketing and customer conversion tool.
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A food truck acts as mobile marketing for your brick-and-mortar restaurant. (Photo: kithanet/Shutterstock)

Restaurpreneurs will often start a food truck before committing to opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. But some are taking the opposite journey and adding a food truck to their existing restaurant. They’re finding that the trucks are not only a great side business but also have the power to boost their restaurant sales.

Related: Making the Leap From Food Truck to Brick and Mortar Restaurant

NCR Silver talked to a handful of owners to find out how the strategy has paid off.

Marketing on wheels

A food truck bears your restaurant’s name, logo and contact information. The food packaging that comes off the truck may have the same. “A food truck is good for marketing and keeps your name out there,” said Jovanis Bouargoub, owner of Porkchop, a barbecue restaurant in Chicago, which also has a food truck. (The truck’s exterior even includes the restaurant’s social media handles.)

Josh Wolkon owns Steuben’s in Denver, which serves regional American favorites in a retro-style diner. He opened his food truck four years after starting his restaurant. “It’s great to have the extra marketing and a moving billboard. It’s my favorite thing to see my food truck driving around town.”

Customer conversion through sampling

Jon Olinto, co-founder of b.good, started his food truck to complement his 54 restaurants on the east coast. The truck sells b.good’s signature smoothies, like Kale Crush and Acai Berry, to its walk-up customers. “We’ve always believed in the power of sampling,” Olinto said. “It’s a way to convert customers out on the streets.”

For b.good, it’s been “a very strong marketing tactic, and we’ve seen strong results over the years.”

Related: The 3 Biggest Myths of Starting a Food Truck

Handling overflow

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On busy days, park your food truck outside of your restaurant to handle overflow and minimize the amount of customers waiting for tables. (Photo: By Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

If your restaurant is packed, customers may not want to wait for a table. If your food truck is parked right outside on busy days, they can eat at the truck instead or get a nibble to hold them over.

That’s how Curtis Peery, owner of Calaveras Cantina in Florida, uses his truck. “On an event like Cinco de Mayo the restaurant line is so long,” he said. “Customers can go out and get tacos and guacamole or small bites while they are waiting.”

Catering opportunities

Your restaurant might not be set up to offer catering — but your food truck can. Many trucks, including the Steuben’s truck, cater private parties and even weddings. (Food trucks at weddings are all the rage.)

“You get those calls all the time where people ask, ‘Do you cater?’” said Wolkon. “We can gain a lot of extra event business with the truck. It helps bring Steuben’s home for a lot of people.”

“We can gain a lot of extra event business with the truck. It helps bring Steuben’s home for a lot of people.” -Josh Wolkon

Food truck owners can also participate in local events. Peery will take his truck to off-site Cinco de Mayo and Fourth of July celebrations as well as cooking contests to bring in more business.

A visible way to give back

Wolkon uses his food truck to give back to his community. At an event for the Denver Film Society, attendees could buy a VIP ticket and receive dinner off the truck. He charged the non-profit only for his supplies and labor.

“It’s great visibility,” said Wolkon. “[The Film Society] displayed our banners and played a commercial for Steuben’s on the movie screen.”

Of course, just as with starting a restaurant, starting a food truck requires a plethora of licenses, permits and types of insurance. So prepare to jump through some hoops before driving off.

Related: The Rules of the Road: How to Make Sure Your Food Truck is Compliant

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