It still amazes me that there are not just a few, but a large number of cities throughout the country that still have yet to implement and welcome food truck operations to their area. Understandably change is slow, some cities don’t have the environment and street traffic to support a truck, and some are having difficulty figuring out details on how best to work it; those are acceptable problems. Yet still many more seem absolutely OPPOSED to the whole idea, leading owners and representatives aware of how well they’ve been received, and how beneficial they can be, to have to fight for the rights to do their business on the street.
Which is why it’s always so great to see new states and cities openly explore and welcome these mobile vendors with open arms, like Mississippi. The whole state has just recently jumped on the food truck bandwagon in the last couple years, with main cities like Jackson forming their own lineup of regulars for people to enjoy and dine from. Though even small side cities like Tupelo are getting their own individual trucks. That particular college city of Jackson, though having been on this path for 2-3 years with some ease of regulation, still has a smaller grouping of vendors that drive the streets, leaving it wide open as a great possible destination for new entrepreneurs, in Mississippi or without, to look towards as a great city for business.
Which we so happily were able to discover from Christopher Freeman, proprietor of Chrississippi catering and culinary services, and new truck owner in Jackson. He just recently opened up his IPPI Ki Yay Taco truck, and agreed to sit down with us to talk about all the main impressions as a starter business on the streets of this Mississippi town. We thank him ahead of time for taking time out of his day to help us answer these questions.
Chris: I’ve been operating in Jackson about two months now, worked in several states across the country, and wanted to come home and do as much local as possible. And the best way to do and afford that was start a Food Truck.
Q: What’s the Food Truck scene like in Jackson, and how have you been navigating it?
Chris: It’s a bit different since it’s new. But Jackson seems to welcome trucks with open arms, the regulations aren’t really stringent. For the most part most of us are doing private parties or cooking on private property. It’s good business, and now that we’ve started a Food Truck Association we’re starting to come together as a team; things are starting to happen for us for sure.
Chris: Well I think one of the advantages, at least to food trucks in general, is that you can operate whatever kind of day you want; set up in a private park or on the streets wherever, can work a 9-5 day or even 24/7 (supposing you can find different places to park during your desired times). There’s none of the confines of being in a brick and mortar, you can go where you want.
One of the biggest issues is maintenance and all the things that break down, you’re likely to have SOME sort of issue at least once a week; it’s not just the refridgerators, now you have generators, diesel engine, etc. Had to pull a tire out recently and that was $300.
Q: Navigating local regulations and codes is usually one of the most important and trickiest thing for any food truck; what sites and other local resources should new trucks go to find out about them?
Chris: Okay, Resources; definitely check in with any sort of Business Association and the Mississippi Food Truck Association. And make friends with other food truck guys at parties and established events. I can’t thank these guys enough for the help they gave me when getting started, they really reach a helping hand out, all of them do that. Definitely make friends in this business.
But we have something really cool to offer; if you need catering, catering is great here in Jackson. Our stuff comes right off the grill, right out of the friar, fresh and juicy; we don’t use cambros to hold stuff down here.
Q: What’s the parking situation like? Do you need a special permit to park or is it a free for all, how easy is it to find, and would you suggest any particular areas to start focusing on?
Chris: I’m not sure of the hours, but trucks can park on the street with a $500 permit, which you have to renew yearly. They just designed a map of where you can park, it’s not quite finalized yet, but as of right now you can park anywhere in the city of Jackson where it’s legal to park there, whether it’s a meter or parking spot, so long as you are at least 300ft from a restaurant. This latter can make it a bit difficult to park, which is the main reason we just do private property, eliminates that whole problem; I don’t even need to operate with that permit. That’s my biggest advice, private property is your best bet.
As for areas, other than the food trucks getting and parking together once or twice a week, it really depends on what you’re selling.
Q: Any particular events and/or businesses to connect with and start looking into?
Chris: Can always check out the Jackson website to find out what’s happening. Jackson Free Press is a great resource. The biggest asset is going to be the Food Truck Association though; they’ll connect trucks with people who are looking for parties.
Q: Finally, is there any last piece of advice or two you’d like to give to upcoming interested Food Truck owners in the area?
Chris: You know, do one thing and do it right. Don’t try to be the big box restaurant; if you do hamburgers, do great hamburgers; if you do tacos, do great tacos; if you do BBQ do great BBQ. Just make sure to crank the best food out possible. And get on Social Media, Twitter and Facebook.
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