Park it Right Here
The STL food truck scene is booming in more ways than one.
THE ST. LOUIS FOOD TRUCK CRAZE has become a staple of sorts on the STL dining scene. Now, food on four wheels is coming full circle, as popular trucks expand with bricks-and-mortar locations and well-known foodie destinations get behind the wheel.
Trucks to Bricks
Since Seoul Taco anchored itself to an eatery in October 2012 in The Loop, other trucks have followed suit, including Hot Aztec (Fenton), The Sweet Divine (Soulard), Bombay Food Junkies (St. Ann) and Burger Ink, whose owner eventually took to the curb permanently to open The Tattooed Dog (Wentzville).
Fundraising for a new restaurant by Guerilla Street Food got a springtime boost after the truck’s first-place finish in The Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards. Owner Brian Hardesty is currently scouting locations and hopes to work quickly to open a physical location serving up Guerilla Street Food’s signature rotating menu of Filipino-inpsired cuisine.
When Lauren Loomis and Robbie Tucker of Lulu’s Local Eatery opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant on South Grand in early May, they added menu items, expanded their hours and spread the Lulu’s food philosophy of fresh, often local, vegan and vegetarian fare with new dishes. “The restaurant is an extension of what the food truck is providing: a fast, casual, affordable, sustainable dining option,” Loomis says. “We’re excited to be a part of the South Grand neighborhood because they are also committed to sustainability.”
Opening a bricks-and-mortar also meant they could focus on ambiance. Lulu’s incorporates both greenery and reclaimed materials from Refab St. Louis in its decor. “We’re really excited to be offering a new brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays,” says Loomis, “and we’ll have a beer garden as well!”
Bricks to Trucks
The call of the open road is still plenty strong, which is why established venues like Zia’s, Sarah’s Cake Shop, Yemanja Brasil and L’Ecole Culinaire are among the local fleet of 40-plus food trucks rolling around town.
For Jane Callahan, who launched a Pie Oh My! truck in March, going mobile “is our next incremental growth step.” It complements the Maplewood shop both in terms of customer base and menu items. “While we sell ready-to-bake potpies in our shop, we’re introducing individual-sized savory pies on the truck,” she says. “We’re excited to use the truck to test new savory flavors, including veggie options and empanadas.”
But as she has already learned, just like opening a bricks-and-mortar establishment, getting a truck up and running is an adventure in and of itself.
“I bought the truck at the Hostess auction last fall,” Callahan says. “I’ve never participated in an auction before, let alone a vehicle auction, so it was a real baptism by fire for me!”
Loaded Nachos, Lulu’s Local Eatery
Photo credit: Christopher Gibbons