Today, a new generation of street-food lovers is lining up at food trucks in Barranquilla. A few years ago we knew little about this new type of street food, just that it was a popular trend elsewhere. And it’s not like Barranquilleros haven’t enjoyed street-food already, but in this new package, it’s experiencing a very popular phase. It’s difficult to count how many food trucks there are in Barranquilla since the mobile food industry is not as organized as it could be and since there’s no real licensing, there’s no way to count. Nevertheless, the proliferation of food trucks and gourmet meal carts across the city evidences the boom.
As these trucks become more popular, so too does the concept for entrepreneurs, especially given the lower overhead versus a regular restaurant. Young aspiring foodies are enthusiastic about the opportunity of opening a food truck business, but there’s a lot to know before getting into this kind of industry.
Humberto Medina, President of the National Association of Food Trucks, claims that “one of the biggest barriers for the food truck industry is the little preparation of entrepreneurs to take on the challenges that can occur when riding a nomadic business. When a chef or cook starts working on the street, they expect a similar behavior to a local restaurant, but this business is entirely different”. You can read the full interview here.
The experience of entrepreneurs like Humberto Medina has helped many newbies in this startup business, and just like him, Alfonso Caballero has become a reference in Barranquilla. Alfonso is the owner of Groso Food Truck and in this interview, he shared the most practical insights for any aspiring food truck owner.
Barranquilla Life: Tell us a bit about Groso Food Truck – What are you guys all about?
Alfonso: Groso Food Truck is all about offering people good products, premium ingredients, and freshness. We show our customers that they don’t have to pay a fortune for a burger. We serve fresh and never frozen.
BL: What are some of the struggles you faced when starting your Food Truck?
Convincing people that we weren’t a two thousand peso food truck. Also, finding a parking lot for the truck and getting used to the pace of working on the street is always complicated. There’s a difference in the cost of operation too; the FTs have direct contact with the customer and immediate feedback. You have to understand that you’re selling an experience too, a restaurant is something more formal and has more amenities that you can’t find in a food truck, which is also reflected in the price of the food.
The issue of parking and the daily assembly and disassembly of the FT can be hard to get used to.
BL: What do you need to start a Mobile Food business?
Basic knowledge in assembling a business is a very important thing. You must like being in the kitchen and you have to enjoy being in contact with people, but even before you decide what foods you’re going to sell, consider how you want to sell them:
Your startup money and budget will guide a lot of your decisions. To start you can spend between 60/70 million pesos on a truck with all technical requirements, sometimes the budget can be adjusted to the needs and the type of business you’re investing in, it’s not the same when you sell hot dogs or ice cream. Another important consideration is your commitment to the business: Can you do it full time or half time?
Use all your creativity and think about what it will take to fulfill these needs. Take advantage of social networks but don’t forget that having an excellent product is the best advertising.
Last but not least, find your ideal demographic. We like Villa Carolina for its location and population. For us, it’s also important that our business doesn’t generate a negative impact on mobility and doesn’t cause unfair competition. That’s why we don’t park our truck directly in front of businesses that are paying rent.
BL: How do you feel when you see the Food Truck movement growing up in Barranquilla?
We’re proud and happy to be pioneers of this movement along with the crew of Taquero Mucho, and we hope the industry grows even more. We need more people to join us in this startup game.
The food truck business is not only about your passion for food. It’s a combination of planning, knowledge about the facts of the business, marketing, time management and making people happy with your products. Your commitment will directly impact the success of your business.
I want to thank Alfonso for the interview and advice. If you haven’t visited Groso Food Truck yet, be sure to catch them at one of their regular spots, and follow them on Instagram @grosofoodtruck. If you are interested in getting into this startup business and need some advice, you can also visit the Facebook page of the Colombian Association of Food Trucks.