Anne-Marie Aigner, founder of Food Truck Festivals of America, said for aspiring restaurant owners, food trucks are an affordable entry point into the business. It can take around $50,000 to start a food truck, compared to a restaurant which can be around $200,000, she said.
“The popularity of today’s food truck has to do with the menu, number one. Number two, convenience: you don’t need a reservation, no tipping. And I believe it’s become a sort of trendy and social experience,” Aigner said.
Belinda Rosales, co-owner of Mama Bee’s Cuisine and Catering, said she always loved cooking, which led her to dream of opening up a diner. However, it was not financially feasible.
After realizing there was a rise in popularity for food trucks, she said, they decided to start their own, found a truck, picked the name and the business began in 2011.
“It’s easier to start a food truck than it is to start a brick-and-mortar,” Rosales said.
However, after six months in business the food truck closed due to a lack of interest and experience, Rosales said. In 2014 they decided to try again, and it has been a success thus far.
Food trucks operate similar to a restaurant, she said. To ensure cleanliness, the trucks have to be annually evaluated by the health department and are also subject to random evaluations, she said.
Owning a food truck is still cheaper, Rosales said, because there is low overhead cost, less money for electricity and no property tax.
But she still hopes in time she can build up enough revenue to start her own brick-and-mortar, she said.
“To let the city of Albuquerque know there is a love for food trucks in Albuquerque. And I believe we just need to become a little bit more metropolitan because all these other big cities and stuff they cater to the food truck industry; they build them sites and commissaries,” Rosales said.
Like Rosales, Louis Mentillo, co-owner of Adoughbe Pizza, said he always wanted to open a restaurant but did not have the capital to fund the business.
When the food truck boom happened, he said, he got some investors to support him and Adoughbe Pizza started in 2014.
“It seemed obvious to me as far as being your own boss, making your own hours, the freedom to work where and who you want to work with,” Mentillo said.
Mentillo said he caters for special events such as weddings but most often he is vending at local breweries in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.
“There is just a lot of understanding, I think, between craft beer and good food. It is very much the cheap man’s wine,” Mentillo said.
Adoughbe Pizza, Mama Bee’s Cuisine and Catering and more than 20 other food trucks will be at the first Great New Mexico Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival.
The event is hosted by Food Truck Festivals of America and will be held Saturday at the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum field.
Lynda Hubley, operations and event manager for the balloon museum, said the main goal of the festival is to focus on the food trucks, but it will also have face painting for children and music.
The festival also helps draw attention to the balloon museum by attracting a different crowd that might not normally come to the museum, she said.
“I think Albuquerque really supports local entrepreneurs. And there’s a lot of resources in place, I think, that helps small business get started and food trucks play right into that,” Hubley said.
Lauren Marvin is a culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LaurenMarvin.