This Mile High City is well known for their vibrant macro and craft brewing industry. But what folks outside the state of Colorado may not know is it’s a huge foodie town with a thriving mobile food scene. While there are lots of deeply entrenched food trucks operating in the area that didn’t stop John Eliav, owner of The Cravings Truck from making his vision a reality.
In today’s featured interview, John shares what it’s like to start and operate a food truck in the Denver metro. We hope you enjoy today’s post. If you happen to live in the Denver area, be sure to check out and support The Cravings Truck!
FTE: How did you get your start?
John: My name is John Eliav, I own The Cravings Truck. I’ve always dreamed about owning a food truck or a small brick and morter, The food truck life style fits into my life.. I was a huge car guy and sold my dream car (a 2012 GTR) to buy my food truck. Funny story, the day I sold my GTR for the food truck my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. So, our first year in business we started a family and a business at the same time. My truck is a huge reflection on who I am. I’m a Middle East mutt that moved to Colorado when I was five and the area we lived in was filled with every culture you can think of. I fell in love with Korean food and anything full of flavor. We’ve been operating for 3 years.
FTE: How did you come up with a unique menu?
John: Our menu comes from food that honestly I want to eat. Everything on our menu in one form or another comes from my upbringing, Food that I had at home and food that I had at friends houses. But I also pull inspiration from food I have grown to love.
FTE: What process did you take to learn how to start a mobile food business in Denver?
John: Honestly, I started with a book, but I’ve never been the type to learn from reading, I need to “do” and that’s how I learn. I read a lot of articles online on how to get licenses. Once we got what we needed and the truck was built I started out slow. Small events to get my feet wet (I have cooked for big family gatherings and at some events using other peoples equipment) Once the flow of the truck was established we started moving into bigger events and breweries that we knew were busy and would let us in.. Owning a food truck the first year is hard, a lot of places have established food trucks. I would cold call or email breweries and festivals that I knew I had seen food trucks at and hoped they were willing to have a new truck come out. That’s how we got our name out and its not just the food, its the service. No one wants to eat from someone who’s a dick.
In Denver we fight a lot with the weather. In the winter lines freeze, tanks freeze up. In curtain counties we have to deal with parking restrictions, and even though we haven’t been around like some food trucks (5yrs and up) the scene is pretty saturated, thats why you have to stick out with your food and attitude.
FTE: How did you figure out the food truck laws in Denver?
In Colorado we have a handful of regulations that trucks have to follow. If you get want to server only in denver county I would recommend visting https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/747/documents/permits/food-truck-guide.pdf If you want to server any anyother county but Boulder county visiting https://www.tchd.org/445/Food-Trucks-Push-Carts.
FTE: What do you enjoy most about being a food truck owner?
Honestly the thing I love about the food truck is serving people and being creative. I can’t draw, I cant write poetically and my food isn’t gorgeous on a plate like a 5-star restaurant. But I know how to cook.. I know how to create flavors. And the best feeling is when customers come back to the window and tell us this is some of the best food we’ve had.
FTE: Any tips for people just getting started in the industry?
Be ready to work your ass off and enjoy every minute of it.. Food doesn’t have to be fancy, it has to be something you would want to eat or something you get cravings for cause honestly someone else is probably having those cravings too. There will be plenty of days were nothing goes right on the truck and you have to be ready to adapt.
City and County of Denver Food Truck Guide – This official document published by the city outlines the rules for operating food trucks, including parking restrictions and business license requirements. This is a must read if you’re planning to start a food truck or concession trailer inside the city limits.
GoTruckster.com – If you plan to operate in Denver, getting your food truck business listed here is a must. This is the most comprehensive website / app available in Denver for food trucks. The website and app can help your truck get recognized locally and secure lucrative catering gigs in the process. This website was co-founded by a fellow food truck owner that deeply understands the needs of mobile food vendors.
How to Setup a Food Truck in Colorado – This easy to read document from FoodTruckRow.com should be printed off and used as a checklist if you plan to operate anywhere in the state.
Tri-County Push Cart and Food Truck Rules – If you plan to operate a food truck outside the city limits of Denver, make sure to bookmark this page.