Operating a food truck business in Rochester, New York offers its own unique opportunities and challenges. Just like with any city in the U.S., the local population of Rochester loves and supports the food truck community operating in their city. Lou DiMarco of Wraps on Wheels bears witness to this. He has been operating his successful food truck for four years now and he has much to say about it. Read on to learn from his experience and get some tips that you can only get from food truck veterans like Lou.
FTE: Can you give me a brief summary about you and your business?
Chef Lou: I am the former owner of a brick and mortar restaurant that operated for 30 years. When it came time to sell and take some time off, I discovered that I was not ready to sit around in my recliner day after day. The idea of owning and operating my own food truck came after a short employment with a local college that was giving it a try. I knew that with my past experience, I could be much more successful at it than they were. I purchased a truck, built it out, my wife and I came up with the name and Wraps on Wheels was born. 2016 will be my fourth year operating in Rochester, New York.
FTE: So how did you manage to put it all together? Did you seek help elsewhere?
Chef Lou: I was in the restaurant business for so long that I already had connections with equipment and food suppliers so that part was easy. I met someone who approached me at one of the college jobs who said he was going to be designing trucks and asked if I would like more information. We started getting together, and he was the person who I counted on to pull all of my ideas together. In the early days, it was easier to go where you wanted to go. Because food trucks were so new here, the city had not regulated it yet.
FTE: As far as city regulations are concerned, what is your recommendation?
Chef Lou: They would need to go to their local health department, city permits department and fire department.
FTE: Some food truck operators find parking to be their number one problem? How is it in Rochester, New York?
Chef Lou: The city has really been supportive and made accommodations for the food trucks in Rochester to be in all of the major events that happen here. Several of the truck owners formed a food truck coalition that worked closely with city hall to develop the standards that would work for both the city and the truck owners.
FTE: What can you consider to be your biggest challenge in operating a food truck in your city?
Chef Lou: I think that the biggest challenge for the trucks in Rochester is the weather. In the winter, our faithful customers still come for lunch, but many times, the snow is not removed from sidewalks and curbs for easy access to the trucks. The other challenge that I face is having enough supplies on hand when I am working at a large event. There is only so much room on the truck to hold frozen and refrigerated supplies. That’s where my wife comes in. She’s the gofer.
FTE: Finally, can you leave us with some words of wisdom for aspiring food truck entrepreneurs?
Chef Lou: Have an original idea and offer a quality product at a very fast pace. The truck owners in Rochester have been diligent about not duplicating their themes.
You’re great Lou. Thanks a lot!
Here are some things that you might want to check out for more information.
City of Rochester (Food Trucks) – Here’s your starting point for your food truck business.
Business, Vendor and Gaming Licenses – Here’s another important link to the city government’s site that you need to take a look at.
New City Food Truck Ordinance – Here is a downloadable PDF file on the latest ordinance for food trucks, carts and trailers.
Food Trucks, Trailers and Carts – You should not pass on this one as it contains in-depth information about operating food trucks in the city.
Wraps on Wheels – Show how much you appreciate Lou’s advice by paying his site a visit.