Did you know that approximately 2.5 billion people eat food from a food truck every day?
Food trucks are one of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry, and over the last several years we’ve seen the food truck evolve from yummy hot dog carts to tasty taco wagons to all-out mouthwatering gourmet! From ethnic fusion to cupcakes and ice cream the variety is never-ending.
The center of food truck branding is in the design. Some trucks take food and art too another level with ridiculously cool designs that not only stand out, but tell their brand’s story. We had the pleasure of talking to 5 of some of the coolest designed Food Truck brands in the land to discuss their design and the story behind the art.
Take a look!
1. Franks Anatra: From a push cart hot dog stand to a VW single cab food truck, the story behind Franks Anatra is beautifully represented in the design. Growing up in Greece, when owner Bill Loizon, was 13 he and his family lived above a VW dealership.
“ I would stand on our balcony for hours and watch the old world repairmen work on these intriguing VW cars and trucks,” Loizon explained. Later, in junior high he bought his first car, a 1959 VW beetle.
His creativity took form in his high school shop class in 1968. He built a dune buggy. “A shortened VW chassis, plastic kitchen chairs, beer keg gas tank, sheet metal body and a hand operated windshield wiper. She was a thing of beauty,” he reminisced.
Loizon’s VW passion continued as he landed his first job after graduating high school at a local VW dealership. “Little did I know that 30 years later I’d make a 1965 VW pickup the brand of my hot dog business,” he shared.
He opened his first hot dog stand in 2001. He started with a push cart that he would load and unload for every event. The loading process eventually wore him down and inspired thoughts of a vehicle he could simply drive to an event and start cooking. This was in 2002. Long before the food truck craze began.
“I looked online and in minutes found my truck in California. I booked my flight and 10 days later I was outfitting her with cooking equipment and printing my menu.”
Today, Bill Loizon, AKA “Bill the hot dog guy” runs 4 hot dog stands. He and his team have hundreds of catered events under their belt with every event different in it’s own creative problem solving way.
We asked about the type of reactions he gets from customers. He shared that some are speechless, some give a head nod and smile, and others like to share their own stories about VW cars they’ve owned.
He recalled 3 different, but very specific instances of fun and memorable customer reaction. He recalled someone asking “Does it Drive?”, a young boy exclaiming“It’s half truck, half restaurant!”, and one guy just had two words “BAD ASS”.
“ I love it all”, Loizon confessed. “At 65 years old, I’m most grateful for the VW thread that has weaved its way through my life’s wild patchwork quilt.”
2. East Side King: With their first truck starting behind The Liberty bar in Austin, Texas as a space for creative freedom, fun and food, Moto Utsunomiya and Paul Qui put that very passion into the design of East Side King. It’s without a doubt a creative and super fun design that is sure to draw attention and customers to the truck. “A lot of people like to take photos of the truck- the designs are definitely something that catches people’s attention if they’re walking by, said co-owner Moto Utsunomiya.
He also shared that the design is inspired by Asian cultures, rock bands, and the city of Austin’s laid-back, fun loving vibe. The trucks were all painted by Peelander Yellow, member of the Peelander-Z ban. His work can be found at every East Side King location.
This dope, fun, creative and yummy food truck can be found in Austin, Texas. You may want to put it on your list for your next trip to the Longhorn State.
3. SoCal Tacos: Started by Scott Wooley and his wife after surviving an inoperable tumor in his shoulder in 2010 as a way to share their story, inspire, encourage and help to others. “Food is a universal language and brings folks together,” said Wooley. “We missed our favorite Southern California Style Fish Tacos, so we made our own, and people loved them. With three kids and one on the way, I quit my job, pushed our “chips” in and started the 3rd food truck in Fort Worth.”
The design was inspired by their love of vintage California and vintage surf swag. “Old Woody’s are a staple in that era so it just seemed to be a perfect fit.” He continued, “The vintage 1968 Hobie surfboard was a perfect fit as our menu board.”
When asked about the customer reaction he said that most people really dig it. He shared that many say it takes them back to the beach in the 40’s and 50’s, which is the exact experience he and his wife are looking to create.
“Everything is just a little more laid back at the beach, so we do our best to bring the love and “chillness” to the people.”
4. Tricycle Ice Cream: An awesome tell of 2 dreams fusing together to make something amazingly delicious. Owners Dave and Gio came together with their own interests and talents. Gio graduated from culinary arts school and loves to cook. Dave has been in the “tricycle business” owning a pedicab business for over 5 years. “I’ve always wanted to start a food business sold via tricycle, so when the two of us met the business came to be,” said Dave.
“The goal of the design was to immediately connect customers with their brand. “We wanted something that conjured up nostalgia and memories of childhood.”
He explained that he wanted the business to be called Tricycle Ice Cream, because he felt that the idea of a tricycle immediately connects you to childhood. “The bear riding the tricycle idea came from the fact that circuses used to have bears that rode bicycles. It was a natural fit”
After coming up with the branding, Dave and his partner Gio decided that in keeping with the brand they should outfit the trike with rustic stained wood with hand a hand lettered logo.
He said the feedback from customers has been great. “All in all, we accomplished our goal to connect the design with the brand. Ultimately, however, it was the quality of the product that made us a success. We take pride in our ice cream–every churn and every cookie has to be perfect. You can have the most beautiful, creative design for a food truck (or tricycle) but if your product isn’t as impressive then none of it matters.”
Oh, he made a point right there! If the product is good, the customers will surely come back to enjoy the entire experience.
5. Del Popolo: As an aspiring restaurant owner, Jon Darsky was inspired to create the Del Popolo food truck after a trip to Austin, Texas. “In April, 2010, I visited Austin, Texas, and was impressed by the street food and mobile food culture. I returned from that trip more focused on building a truck than on finding a restaurant location,” said Darsky.
Fascinated with the idea of doing something new with mobile kitchen architecture he wanted to create something different with his design. “Most food trucks start from the same place, with a re-purposed step van, and incorporate similar modifications, designs and equipment,” he explained. “ I started with the idea that I wanted to use an unconventional appliance in a custom format that would expand the idea of what mobile food can be.”
The truck is a 20’ long and 8’ wide deconstructed shipping container/glass enclosed kitchen. It is transported on the frame of 2006 Freightliner M2106 bobtail truck. It’s designed to eliminate the awkwardness of many mobile operations, where the customer is forced to stand outside a small window craning their neck upwards in order to place an order. The Del Popolo has an internal step-down feature that places the employee on a plane much closer to level with the customer.
The truck’s 5000 pound, wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven is 5’ wide and 6’ deep and offers a baking surface of 47” capable of producing 72 pizzas and hour.
Darsky said the truck always gets a huge amount of attention wherever it goes. “It’s It’s something that carries it’s own aesthetic. Customers often take pictures as well as selfies.”
Del Popolo now has a bricks and mortar restaurant as well, located at 855 Bush Street in San Francisco. While it did start with the truck, the truck is now the mobile arm.