What’s the latest news on the food truck scene in St. Louis?
What is the latest news on the St. Louis food truck scene? – Byron K., St. Louis
St. Louis’ first food truck, Pi on the Spot, which hit the streets more than a decade ago, was introduced. Since then, the increase has risen steadily, and the list has risen to well over 70 in 2019 – according to our calculations.
Therein lies the dilemma: There is no definitive list of approved food trucks. The St. Louis Food Truck Association (which currently lists 46 trucks) requires membership fees. According to foodtrucksin.com, which lists more than 8,500 trucks in 1,800 cities nationwide, there are currently more than 70 trucks on the road in St. Louis.
In most communities, the local health department must approve a truck before it can be on the road. The St. Louis Subway has separate health departments in the city, county, St. Charles, Metro East, and beyond. Hence, it’s difficult to put together a comprehensive list of these entities, especially since food trucks tend to come, go, and change hands – and names – a lot.
Last year, at a time when many food truck events were canceled, some trucks ceased operations completely while others went idle. At the same time, the July launch of 9 Mile Garden was a boon to the entire food truck scene, providing visibility, credibility and a permanent venue for a handful of trucks on any given day. More than 40 trucks were invited to take part this year, including newcomers BEAST Craft BBQ Co., Clara B’s Kitchen Table, K-Bop, Pappys Rollin ‘Smoke and Ramblin’ Rooster. Other trucks launched since early last year include Red Dirt Revival, Revival Meat & Three, Izumi, and Curry Club Express.
As spring turned to summer last year, food truck owners used platforms like NextDoor and homeowners associations to market their services to neighborhoods and subdivisions, creating a socially distant mini-street party on a pre-scheduled evening. Food truck owners said they took on sideline businesses from neighborhood events and gigs like 9 Mile Garden.
While technically not a food truck, the mobile drinks business continued to grow in 2020. Several memorable trucks and trailers have been called to parks, parties, and garden barbecues.
As the second year of the pandemic begins, expect more creative restaurants to hit the streets as chefs and restaurant owners continue to shrink – and downshift – into new profit areas.
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Mahe is the restaurant editor for St. Louis Magazine. Originally a fussy eater, he has owned or operated restaurants for most of his life. He started reviewing her for SLM in 1991.
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February 19, 2021