Food truck phenomenon rolls into town

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Often dubbed curbside cuisine, food trucks have come a long way from the humble hot dog cart.

The colorful food truck owned by Crave Cupcakes on Boundary Street in Beaufort.
The colorful food truck owned by Crave Cupcakes on Boundary Street in Beaufort.

According to Chef2Chef website, “The food truck invasion is taking over America’s street corners from LA to NYC and Portland to Austin. There are no limits to the types of food that are now being sold from trucks and carts — a million chicken dishes; Korean BBQ tacos; Indian curries; sushi; waffles; cupcakes; rice balls; regular, gourmet, eco-friendly, or Black Angus, grass-fed, organic burgers; vegan-friendly fare; ice cream treats and desserts of every type and delicious design…”

In the last couple of years, this trend has created such a fan base that entire TV shows are now devoted to the topic. The Food Network is about to launch season 4 of “The Great Food Truck Race” with Tyler Florence (a South Carolina native), The Cooking Channel hosts “The Food Truck Revolution” and “Eat Street”, to name a few.

But that’s not all. In major cities, true devotees tack the daily location of their favorite trucks through social media, websites and phone apps. In order to help boost their public image, control standards, and host gatherings of vendors, many areas have created nonprofit food truck alliances. An example of this in the Lowcountry is The Charleston Food Truck Federation which was established in 2011 “as a resource that provides open communication throughout the mobile food industry and spotlights the diversity of the culinary landscape of Charleston, the Southeast and beyond.”

But this trend isn’t just for major cities. Food trucks can now be spotted right here in Beaufort.

A notable example of this is Crave Cupcake Boutique which operates out of a storefront on Boundary Street and where it also parks a brightly colored food truck which they use for catering and events.

Food trucks and carts serving everything from crepes to curry can also be spotted at local farmers markets. Some local entrepreneurs have even gotten their businesses by first “testing the waters” with a mobile business. That is what Tony Herndon of Joe Loves Lobster Rolls did by rolling out a food cart in Savannah. The business was so popular at local farmers markets and festivals that he was selling out. This prompted him to open the first Joe Loves Lobster Rolls restaurant in Okatie.

There are two local events coming up in Beaufort this summer that aim to showcase food trucks. The first is the Beaufort Food Truck Festival, a fundraiser for the non-profit Arts Council of Beaufort County, which is being held on Saturday, June 21 at the Beaufort Town Center Shopping Plaza. The second event is The 2014 Tomato Festival on July 12 at Cane Island.