Food Trucks Are Restaurant's Version of a Lean Startup

Austin is boomtown for food trucks. They’re everywhere! For example, the trailer-food park on South 1st (http://www.yelp.com/biz/south-austin-trailer-park-and-eatery-austin). There are too many great food trucks around town to name, but a couple of my favorites are Sushi-A-Go-Go and Gourdough’s.

Anyway, after a recent outing where I sat at a kitschy picnic table in the summer heat eating trailer food, it struck me that food trucks are restaurant’s version of a lean startup. Just as the cost of starting a software business went down with the commoditization of hardware and bandwidth, we’re seeing an explosion of restaurants thanks to greatly reduced startup and operation expenses offered by trucks/trailers/carts. I imagine that by using a truck/trailer/cart, the business owner saves a ton of money; I’d guess there are significant savings on electricity (heating and cooling, lighting), service (less area to maintain, fewer waiters necessary), and rent. How cool is that?!

The truck/cart/stand is the proving ground. Those who are happy with their situation are free to keep doing what they’re doing, or they can move easily (thanks to the mobility of the restaurant). Business owners who choose to expand can move to a more permanent home in a brick-and-mortar store. A few Austin examples include Franklin’s BBQ, Man Bites Dog, and Torchy’s Tacos.

Overall, I think it’s a great trend! As the options increase, food quality goes up and prices go down. And don’t tell anyone, but I have a little dream of opening Austin’s first decent ramen restaurant…

What do you think? Do you like the trend? Does my analogy make sense? What food trucks/trailers/carts do you like? What are we missing?