We spoke to Athos from Two Pitas In A Pod last night, who told us they will not be on the street for the foreseeable future.
Two Pitas still have several private events booked, and they will be accepting future private events, but there are several reasons street operations are being suspended for now.
Having a food truck on the street is a lot tougher than people realize, and Athos asked if I could write about the realities of the food truck business in an honest and unglamorous way. Too many people think owning a food truck is a quick and easy path to fame, riches, and owning a restaurant. The reality is much different.
The first problem is a legal system set up to favor brick-and-mortar restaurants. In NYC, Hoboken and now Jersey City, regulations exist making it tougher, if not outright illegal, to have a food truck.
Beyond that, logistical issues are difficult to overcome, such as kitchen rental. You are not in control of your own kitchen, often sharing a commercial kitchen, which has a whole other mess of issues when you make all your food from scratch like Two Pitas does. In NJ, there aren’t too many commercial kitchens to choose from either.
Weather in the Northeast is an issue as well. Getting rained out 3 days in a row can be devastating to an outdoor food business. In NYC this can sometimes be made up by volume, but even that isn’t guaranteed. In NJ, it makes things even tougher.
Parking is yet another issue. You can easily end up looking for a spot anywhere from 1-2 hours, and if you miss the early part of lunch, that could be 25% of the day’s receipts. It turns out it’s just as difficult to find parking in Newark as in NYC.
The animosity food trucks face from brick-and-mortar restaurants is another problem. For some reason, restaurant owners think food trucks are money-minting machines, and put them at a disadvantage, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
For all the reasons mentioned, food trucks are a notoriously low-margin business. Street operations are the portion of the operation with the thinnest margins, which is why the best food trucks make at least 50% of their income from private events.
The food part of a food business is still not enough to necessarily survive. Two Pitas had a five star average rating on Yelp, but that doesn’t help with all the other issues.
Athos did want me to say they are suspending street operations for now, and they may start back up again if some things are resolved. In fact, Two Pitas In A Pod will be at Trucks On The River as part of the NYC Wine & Food festival in the fall.
Personally, I hope things work out. Not only were Athos and Scott two of the nicest guys around, but who else makes their own lamb kefta from scratch. That stuff is amazing!