The Jacksonville meals truck growth creates a associated enterprise: Meals Truck Service Middle – Enterprise – The Florida Instances-Union
The first few buildings are ready, but Bob Fleckenstein is planning 58 carports big enough to accommodate food trucks. He calls it Food Truck City.
The food truck explosion when it finally got to Jacksonville was evident. There were only a handful a few years ago, but now about 100 are licensed in Jacksonville.
Chunky Tomato, Chubby Burrito, Mother Truckin Pizza, and Pie Daddy … they’re in office parks, on vacant lots, and almost anywhere else that someone could go to the window to eat.
Fleckenstein said he just noticed how many there were and, to be honest, he was looking for something to do.
He is 74 years old and has sold his stake in Summit Contracting Group, a company he founded in 1989.
“I didn’t do well with retirement,” he said. “I don’t like sitting at home and I really enjoy being with all these young entrepreneurs. They really fascinate me and they work so hard.”
So he rented two acres of vacant lot on Richard Street, one block from Bowden Road on the Southside. He picked this lot because it’s near Restaurant Depot, the wholesale store where many food truckies shop.
He doesn’t think of Food Truck City as a place where trucks would serve food, but if some of them want to do that from time to time, that would be fine with him.
His plan is a parking lot for trucks when they aren’t selling groceries, a safe place with covered and fenced enclosures for each truck, with storage space and space for freezers and refrigerators. He uses ice machines and a propane filling station.
There are two ways to license food trucks. Some are self-contained and have their own storage, cooling, freezing and washing facilities. But others have to join a local kitchen or commissioner for some of these.
All of them need approved places to get water and drain water and fat. So Fleckenstein uses that and also offers space for washing trucks and pots.
He’s not planning a kitchen.
There are already some places in town for truck owners who cannot or do not want to park theirs at home.
Izzy Pahil has been running his Blue Pacific Grill & Taco Bar Truck for about two years. He parks it in a self-storage center overnight. It costs him $ 150 a month, but it’s just an unserved parking lot.
Others offer the kind of services Fleckenstein speaks of.
Chriss Brown opened her commissioner about six years ago in a nondescript building on Beaver Street. Food manufacturers and caterers who did not have their own kitchen rented space and time.
Then the food trucks popped up and she took over the former Jacksonville tractor construction site next door. She calls it The Lot with commissioner, water, grease trap, fridge and freezer.
There are now about 10 trucks parked there and there is room for five more. She said there is also room for a new lot like Fleckenstein’s.
“Competition creates trade,” she said. “His competition will be price. There seems to be a misunderstanding that because these food trucks are everywhere they have to make a lot of money. But they’re not and price is important.”
Brown said she bills $ 100 to $ 300 a month depending on the services.
Fleckenstein said he’s looking at more than that: $ 150 for up to $ 600 or so, again depending on the services.
As quickly as the food truck scene is growing, it is changing. Trucks come and go, said Brown.
“Right now there are probably nine or ten for sale,” she said.
Brown also said the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is pushing for all trucks to use a commissioner, as it was until a few years ago.
But the trucks have settled in. A year ago, Mary Anne Hashem opened the Jax Food Truck Food Court on Beach Boulevard. Four trucks lined up there every day.
Hashem said she turns the trucks but usually keeps three lunches and one dessert truck at a time.
“Every truck has its trailer,” she said. “When we have really popular trucks like Happy Grilled Cheese, the place is just a hype. But it’s also a launch pad for those trying to get into the business.”
And more and more trucks are coming.
Kevin McCann is pretty new to the food truck world. In August, he put his Hit-N-Run grill truck on the road selling sandwiches and wraps. But he has a food background: he ran fast food restaurants and his father ran a deli in New York.
He hopes his truck will lead to a permanent restaurant, just like Corner Taco, Super Food and Brew, and others do.
He was already busy. He’s spent all of last week at Florida State College on Jacksonville’s North Campus, where the cafeteria is being renovated, and officials have invited food trucks.
On Friday nights he went to Nocatees Food Truck twice a month.
On Monday McCann had his truck at Fanatics on the Philips Highway.
He is already working on a second truck but is not sure whether he will sell grilled dishes or desserts.
“As long as you work and give your name out, stay busy,” McCann said. “We’re getting calls right now asking us to go to Daytona Bike Week.”
Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296