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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

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Food Trucks Take Over DC

Something really exciting has been happening in DC over the last couple of years.  There’s an explosion of food trucks in the downtown area.  DC is in the process of changing its laws making it easier for these small businesses to operate throughout the city. Say goodbye to a half-smoke hot dog being your only street food option.  On any given weekday a quick walk by the intersection of G and 12th Streets, NW you’ll encounter at least six food trucks offering choices ranging from Indian, Ethiopian, lobster rolls, pizza, kebabs, crab cakes, Korean tacos and barbeque to just name but a few.

Food TrucksAuthor/journalist/blogger Heather Shouse spent a year travelling throughout the United States researching her book Food Trucks : Dispatches and Recipes from the best Kitchens on Wheels. Part travelogue, part cookbook Food Trucks is divided by geographic region highlighting various street vendors from each area.  It comes as no surprise that the Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR) and Southern California get the loudest shout outs. Shouse, to our benefit, includes one or two recipes from each vendor.

Washington, DC gets a gracious nod with profiles of three food trucks.  Most notably, the Fojol Bros. of Merlindia a rather wacky ensemble started by four men that dress in turbans, colorful jumpsuits and waxed mustaches and who serve delicious Indian food.  They have also started two other food trucks specializing in Ethiopian food (Benethiopia) and Thai food (Volathai).  Most, if not all, of the food trucks make use of social networking media (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) to alert customers where and when they’ll be serving up their goods on a given day. 

Stephanie Tasty KebabIt seems like every day a new food truck appears on the scene.  With the "recent" economic downturn, starting a food truck endeavor has proven to be a fun, creative and "relatively" low cost way to make a livelihood while at the same time adding a nice tasty splash to downtown DC.  Many of the food truck vendors echo each other in saying how one of the greatest rewards of running their business is seeing how it builds community amongst downtown office workers.  There is strength in numbers and the majority of food trucks have banded together to form The Washington, DC Food Truck Association, Inc.  According to the Association's website they are "a collaborative group of food truck owner-operators who seek to elevate and sustain the well being of food trucks, foster a sense of community and work in partnership with the District to revise food truck regulations." Visit the website and check out the list of member food trucks.

Food Truck BusinessInterested in exploring what it takes to start up your own food truck business?  Look no further than Entrepeneur Press and Rich Mintzer's Start your own food truck business part of the Entrepreneur magazine Startup Series (a super great series by the way).  This small but information packed tome goes over all the "nuts and bolts" of what it takes to start a mobile food business from menu planning and funding to licensing and marketing.

Another great resource here at The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is The Enhanced Business Information Center (e-BIC).  e-BIC provides workshops and resources to help empower small entrepreneurs to get their businesses up and running. You can contact e-BIC staff members by phone at 202-727-2241 or, better yet, come in and visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

In the meantime, get out there and try some great food!
S. McDermott