The Grilled Addiction food truck has been operated by the husband and wife team of Lance and Beth Smith for over one year. But the idea for the food truck business began even earlier during a casual visit with their family. During a family event with good food and a few bottles of wine, the couple started to talk about the increased popularity of food trucks and brainstorm the type of food they would hypothetically serve if they had a truck.
Lance always had a knack for grilling and their dream food truck would reflect that concept. But unlike most folks that imagine a different life on the weekend, yet begrudgingly continue to drive to their corporate jobs on the weekdays the Smiths decided to follow through on their vision of operating a mobile restaurant fulltime.
We want to thank Beth and Lance for sharing their experiences starting a food truck in Phoenix, Arizona. If you want to learn more about the Grilled Addiction story we encourage you to visit their website. If you’re in the Phoenix area, Grilled Addiction will be at the Carefree Winter Festival and Cardinals Stadium in the month of December.
FTE: How did you go about starting a food truck in Phoenix?
Grilled Addiction: We learned by being pests at all the food truck events while our truck was being built out. The truckers were very patient with us and helpful. They were happy to give us advice when we asked, but much of our experience is hands-on. Everyone has to pay their dues building a reputation, putting in the hours and building their spots. Figuring out the menu took time; you needed to be efficient cost wise, waste wise and taste wise. It all had to come together inside the truck before it goes out the window. Food truck organizations and groups can help you to get the ball rolling and learning what works best for your truck. Not every location works for every truck. Not every truck works for every locations and the Food Truck Groups (RAD – Ride and Dine, Food Truck Caravan, Best in Show Mgmt.) know how to place trucks into events that work for everyone.
FTE: What are some of the unique opportunities of operating a food truck in your city?
Grilled Addiction: The Phoenix Valley has many opportunities for the food truck industry. Besides parking and serving at corporate centers to serve lunch all over the valley, but their are always events and festivals going year round. Of course, the summer months tend to slow down quite a bit (mid-July thru mid-September), but when the season comes around, it gets crazy busy! We were one of the fortunate few to be chosen to serve on the Flight Deck (Gate 2) at the University of Phoenix Stadium for all the Cardinals Football home games. We were also called upon to be featured on BBQ Crawl with Diva Q for the Travel Channel (to be shown Summer 2015). We have served opening day for Diamondback Baseball at Chase Field and Cubs Spring Training games in Mesa, Az. With all the exposure we have been getting it really puts us out there for all the special corporate events, employee lunches/parties, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings! It’s been a lot of fun!
Grilled Addiction: The biggest challenge, I’m sure everyone can imagine, is the summer heat. Serving inside these trucks is like sitting inside your oven turned up on high! You tend to take more of the evening locations and spots when the sun has gone down.
FTE: What advice do you have for the next generation of mobile food vendors?
Grilled Addiction: Do your homework, hang around other trucks and watch to see how it’s being done, ask questions. There are alot of ways to do things and you have to figure out which way works best for you. It’s a lot of fun, you are somewhere different everyday, doing something different and meeting new people, so it keeps it interesting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of hard work too! Keep your menu simple, within means of being able to serve a lot of people in a short amount of time.
FTE: Anything else newbie food truckers should know in the Phoenix metro?
Grilled Addiction: Prepare, prepare, prepare and be ready. Busy October – May/June Slow – July – August/September.
Serious about Starting a Food Truck in Phoenix? Here are some local resources to help you get started.
Phoenix Street Food Coalition – This is an organization of street food vendors in Phoenix. This organization of vendors has banded together to help increase awareness of the industry locally and influence local laws in a positive way. If you are starting a food truck in Phoenix, enrollment in this group can be a terrific way to fast-track business relationships in the area.
5-Tips from Phoenix-area Food Truck Owners – Article published on AZCentral.com that was based on a panel discussion moderated by Republic dining writer Jennifer McClellan about the future of food trucks. This is a worthwhile and fast read if you’re serious about building this type of business.
Street Eats Food Truck Festival – This is a food truck event that will be held on February 7th – 8th in Scottsdale, AZ. Grilled Addiction will also be present at this event. You can learn more about this festival or download an application for your food truck at the website.
Open Air Market – This is located at the Phoenix Public Market. Each Friday is Food Truck Friday so check them out.