Are food trucks here to stay?

COLUMBUS, Ga. – For many cities, eating is no longer limited to fast food and sit down options. Food truck dining has rolled onto the scene, bringing a new way to enjoy new foods.

You may have noticed food trucks popping up more often at events like RiverFest of Phenix City’s Food Truck Friday’s, but we wanted to know if there’s a future for a permanent food truck culture on streets of Columbus.

Food trucks, where fresh ingredients meet diversity and time efficiency. For many food truck owners, it’s more than a business, it’s a way to share their culture for Kizzie, it’s a piece of home.

“We moved here from New Orleans, Louisiana after hurricane Katrina. We evacuated to Maryland with family, then settled in Phenix City, Alabama/Columbus area and could not find our food anywhere. We tried every single restaurant that either said New Orleans or Louisiana style… nothing truly authentic. Ergo.. Po-Boy City,” said Kizzie Johnson.

For Ana, the owner of an El Salvadoran truck next to Kizzie, it’s also about bringing her culture to Columbus.

“When we came here, they asked me “Ah, Mama, I want pupusa. Where we can go to buy some? And we go around Columbus, and nobody had pupusas. No, I was surprised about that,” said Ana Martinez.

So this is the fresh made papusa. It’s the homemade flour tortilla with pulled pork already cooked inside. You put some of this homemade cole slaw on top of it with a little bit of the tomato sauce.

Uptown Columbus President Richard Bishop feels permanent food trucks could do well in other parts of the city, but Uptown is not the right place.

“We’ve had meetings with our local businesses, particularly the ones that have food businesses. They’re ok with festivals, but to have food trucks located on our downtown streets would be a real struggle for them right now,” said Richard Bishop.

“It’s hard, especially in these upcoming months, and if someone were to come in and steal all the business, I feel like it would be unfair to all of the employees down here,” said General Manager, Pasquale Curry of Picasso Pizza.

Meanwhile, Amy Bryan with the Chamber of Commerce says it could be a promising concept, especially with the younger crowd.

“It’s a very hip thing right now, and millennials are looking for ways to engage in communities. The ones that we have, it’s a lot of existing bricks and mortar, and that’s a way for them to enhance their business and grow their business in a different way, so I think it’s sustainable for those folks and for new people in the market,” said Bryan.

Until the concept catches on, Ana and Kizzie will continue to provide nourishment through their food, while getting their own nourishment from the sense of community in return.

“It brings diversity, and in this day and time, that’s what we need.”

“Fresh vegetables, fresh meat cooked in front of you… can’t beat that.”

Ana said she didn’t have enough money for a brick and mortar restaurant, but bought a food truck as a start.

What’s next for these food truck owners? Ana and Kizzie had one of their last inspections last week and should be operating at a permanent location on Veterans Parkway very soon.

 

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