JACKSONVILLE — The food truck explosion is a nationwide phenomenon, with numerous cities embracing market competition and providing their citizens with accessible, innovative, and award-winning cuisines at affordable prices, and nowhere is this more apparent in the state of Florida than in its most populous city, Jacksonville.
Roger Bull, in the Florida Times-Union, reports that the explosion of trucks in Jacksonville, now numbering over 100 and growing, and aided by the local food truck organization, Jax Truckies, has led to the creation of auxiliary businesses that help support the industry to continue to expand.
Beaver Street Commissary, a food truck commissary operated by Chriss Brown, opened six years ago with room to service 15 area trucks.
But with so many current trucks and local regulations stipulating that any truck not self-contained with its own storage, refrigeration, freezer, and washing facilities partner with a commissary, the need has arisen for more facilities.
Enter: Food Truck City.
Entrepreneur Bob Fleckenstein is building a facility that, upon completion, will have the capacity to service 58 trucks at once, providing them with individual, enclosed, and secured car ports to store and clean their trucks. Freezers and refrigerators will be available, as well as ice machines and a propane refill station.
With the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation pushing to require all trucks to use a commissary, Fleckenstein’s development couldn’t happen at a better time for Jacksonville's food trucks.
Beyond exceptional cuisine, the food truck industry—when allowed to flourish—provides numerous jobs and revenues for the cities that partner with them. The trucks themselves are the epitome of small business entrepreneurship, funneling tax revenues into city coffers while providing numerous citizens a quicker alternative than going off-site during lunch time.
The auxiliary businesses not only help food trucks in their preparation of food and cleaning and maintenance of their trucks, but provide much needed jobs in their communities.
Food truck festivals, like the Jacksonville Food Truck Championship, not only showcase some of the most innovate food the area has to offer, but provides a gathering space for the citizens of Jacksonville to gather, share food, and communicate with neighbors.
These are true, open spaces of American democracy.
And successful trucks can parlay their popularity into brick-and-mortar restaurants, like Super Food Truck and Corner Taco, something that would not have been financially feasible for these businesses had they not started out in a truck. What the City of Jacksonville gets when a successful food truck opens a brick-and-mortar restaurant is a business with proven staying power.
Food trucks also serve to support locations on-site which are undergoing repairs and renovations, and cannot provide food services for their populations. The Hit-N-Run Grill truck run by Kevin McCann, amongst other trucks, have been providing food to the students and employees of Florida State College at Jacksonville’s North Campus, where renovations to the cafeteria have shut down services.
Simply put, repeated off-site preparation and delivery by a brick-and-mortar restaurant would be infeasible and cost-prohibitive.
Jacksonville’s food trucks continue to be a vital part of the city’s growth and community, with forward-looking elected officials knowing that by allowing the industry space to thrive, they are providing what their voting constituents have now long celebrated and enjoyed.
By Matthew St-Germain
National Food Truck Association