Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and recognize the things for which we are thankful. I’m thankful for the same things that many of you are – family and friends, good health, a (good) job and the freedoms allowed by living in the United States. At the risk of sounding superficial, I’m also thankful that food trucks became a part of my life this year. Read on and I think you’ll agree that there are many reasons it’s not superficial at all.
I’m thankful for the new friends I’ve made, both near and far. I never go to a food truck and not come away feeling better than when I arrived. The long, grueling hours required of anyone working on a food truck doesn’t stop them from greeting me with a smile, a friendly greeting and always a ‘Thank You for coming!” These entrepreneurs share a common characteristic with all small business owners – it is a labor of love and the enthusiasm is infectious. And that enthusiasm and friendliness is mirrored by the patrons who reach out to people they’ve never met before to ask questions and share opinions.
I’m thankful for the exposure to new foods and the chance to enjoy old favorites re-imagined and reinvented by the creative chefs. The options cross cultural lines that circle the globe and creatively re-imagine American classics closer to home. I’ve learned that Vegan/Vegetarian can be so good you don’t miss the meat, that tacos come in as many varieties as there are countries, that gourmet is not restricted to fancy restaurants and that even hot dogs and burgers can go really upscale with creative toppings. And speaking of upscale, who would ever believe you could get sushi, escargot and steamed dumplings or pizza cooked fresh, in creative and classic styles, from a truck. Desserts range from Whoopie Pies to classic cream & fruit pies (sometimes with a surprising hot pepper kick) to fried pies (including an unbelievable Guacamole pie!), shaved ice (even in an adult versions), cupcakes galore and more flavors of Cool Haus ice cream than I can name. But it’s true, I had all this and more! Who wouldn’t be thankful?
I’m thankful for the generosity and community support demonstrated by the food truck community. It reminds me of the importance of giving and helping those less fortunate than ourselves. I’ve seen food trucks become the featured attraction at fundraisers for charities and churches, schools and youth sports leagues. In addition to contributing time and a generous percentage of their sales (not profits), truck owners often donate 100% of their tips (and sometimes 100% of their sales!) to the sponsoring organization. Some local trucks always donate their tips to a cause near and dear to them. And when sales are not as good as anticipated, the excess food is taken to local food banks to share with those less fortunate.
Reaching out beyond local communities, DFW food trucks generously donated tips and/or a percentage of sales to support aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Local governments in the Northeast embraced the offer to help extended by food trucks in the hard hit areas that resulted in thousands of meals being delivered to victims of Sandy. Many of our own food trucks filled the need for meals and bottled drinks following the 2012 tornadoes in the DFW metroplex. And sadly, some trucks who tried to help were prohibited by local government who hid behind archaic regulations and would not make an exception, even in such an exceptional situation. I pray these cities will see the bigger picture should (or given Texas weather, when) catastrophe strikes our community again.
I’m thankful for all of the new trucks that came to Dallas/Fort Worth. At the same time, I’m saddened by the retiring of other trucks. I’m thankful for the trucks I found before they were gone. They’ll be missed but I wish them all success and happiness wherever life takes them.
I’m thankful for the regulations faced by food truck owners, but not all of them. I’m confused by regulations that give preferential protection to brick and mortar restaurants and relegate food trucks to second-class status. I wonder how this can be considering the history of America, and the American Dream, that reveres the entrepreneur who sees a niche and fills it. At the same time, I embrace the regulations that recognize a gourmet food truck is truly a restaurant on wheels. I want food trucks to be inspected for health and safety like any other restaurant. These regulations not only put everyone on a level playing field, it gives credibility to the truck and removes any fear about safety in their product. I’m constantly amazed at how obstacles are met with creative solutions by food truck operators who fight traffic, bias, regulation, breakdown and the weather to bring their food to the people.
I’m thankful for living in a country where people who have a dream can actually make that dream come true. This country was built by the blood, sweat and tears of people willing to take risks to achieve their dreams. These food truck entrepreneurs remind me of how we became a great country and, despite the interference of politics and politicians, how we can once again return to the prosperity we enjoyed when small, local business was the core strength on which this country was built.
Finally, I’m thankful for the chance to give something back to the food truck community. This website is a labor of love for me. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my experience and to spread the word. I’m thankful for each and every person who visits Food Truck Connection and even more thankful when they pass the articles on to their friends and followers. I’m thankful for the opportunity to encourage my readers to try the food truck experience. I’m thankful when I convince someone that’s staring at a menu, a little hesitant to try something new, and my encouragement gives them the courage to give it a go.
I’m thankful that I can be a part of the food truck community. It’s a really nice place to live.
For a photo documentary of our totally Food Truck Thanksgiving meal, check out Thanksgiving – Food Truck Style.