Food trucks on the rise in downtown Phoenix

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The food truck business is experiencing a rise in popularity in Arizona. In particular, downtown Phoenix has seen a lot of growth due to the abundance of street festivals and open-air markets. (Annika Cline/DD)

The food truck scene has recently become popular in Arizona and food truck owners say downtown Phoenix is where the food truck business is taking off.

“Food trucks are in their infancy here in downtown Phoenix,” said Scott Schraml, owner of Mojo Bowl, a food truck that serves smoothies and salads. “I do see the food truck scene growing and expanding in downtown Phoenix, especially with the folks at the Phoenix open-air markets being so welcoming and receptive to it.”

Downtown Phoenix is on the right track, but it should have catered to food trucks a long time ago, said Jason Fimbrez, policy director and social media support for the Phoenix Street Food Coalition. Phoenix is the sixth largest metropolitan city in the country and food trucks should have taken off sooner like they did in Los Angeles and Portland, Fimbrez said.

Brad Moore, chair of the Phoenix Street Food Coalition and owner of the Short Leash Hot Dogs food truck, said that partnering with businesses such as the Phoenix Public Market is key to keeping food trucks in business.

With the mobile nature of food trucks, they are capable of serving more than one location and clientele any day of the week. But finding places to serve can be difficult, depending on each city’s licensing and ordinances, Fimbrez said.

“Every city has their own rules and regulations,” Fimbrez said. “Some places are easier to serve than others depending on the city’s health regulations, required equipment, safety rules.”

Julia Ireland of Torched Goodness, a food truck serving up creme brulee, said her agenda changes every month depending on how many private parties, weddings, special events or street fairs there may be. Although her food truck can be found in Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale and other locations, Phoenix is the easiest place to serve, Ireland said.

The success of any food truck also depends on how well they can inform consumers of where they will be each day.

Schraml had a lot of advice for people who want to start their own food truck. Before joining the food truck bandwagon, people need to make sure they have a business plan, Schraml said.

“Your business plan is like a road map. If you don’t have one, you’ll run into a dead end. Think of your business on paper first before starting up a food truck. If you don’t, you’ll fail.”

Food trucks could find it easy to serve in Phoenix due to temporary licensing and exemptions that are not extremely demanding, said Denise Archibald, license services supervisor with the city of Phoenix.

“Exemptions, which are not full licenses, include farmer’s market and community garden permits,” Archibald said. “There are not as many requirements that food truck owners need have in comparison to mobile vending licenses which are far more complex, making it much easier to serve their food.”

City officials said they receive daily questions about mobile vending and vendor licensing with the growing food truck trend in Phoenix. Rosa Pulido, license service clerk with the city of Phoenix, said that the city tries to cater to businesses that are growing, like the food truck industry.

“Any city will appreciate businesses and here in Phoenix, not only as an employee, we try to work with people to help them in any way we can,” Pulido said. “With a trend like food trucks we are trying to help them grow especially since there is a demand for it.”

Contact the reporter at angoe@asu.edu