Have you checked out Kansas City’s food truck scene lately? If you haven’t, you really should.
Story by Dave Eckert
KC was late to the food truck craze, but what it lacked in early numbers, it has matched with relentless recent momentum.
The last public list of KC’s food trucks published by a local paper put the city’s truck numbers at around 30. That was 2014. The food truck folks I spoke with for this article say the current figure is double that!
“Not everyone can open a restaurant. This is a great way to express your culinary creativity outside a restaurant,” Chef Carmen Cavia told me.
Cavia owns and operates the El Tenador food truck, which has been on the streets for five years. After a career in restaurants she wanted more freedom.
“If you don’t want to work, you just close the door and drive away,” Cavia shared. “Running a food truck is the best idea I’ve ever had.”
Wendi Graves is equally bullish on the food truck business. Graves co-owns KC Fooditude with her fiancée, David. The couple creates artisan pizzas on the go. They’re newbies to the Food Truck scene, approaching their one-year anniversary in the business.
“It’s been a learning experience, but a lot of fun,” Wendi Graves said.
Fooditude’s specialty pies include very popular vegetarian and vegan options. The pizzas are cooked in just 90 seconds thanks to a special, uber high temperature oven, which is another big selling point. But, how did they land on pizza for their food truck venture?
“David has done competition barbecue for years, so we considered that. But, there are just so many barbecue trucks. Plus, we didn’t want to be tied down to one type of food. With pizza, the possibilities are endless,” Graves commented.
Wendi and David have joined an exciting and emerging food truck scene in Kansas City, one Cavia has watched blossom and mature on so many levels.
“When we first started, people thought I was serving tacos, not tapas. I had to explain the concept to them,” Cavia said, laughing as she remembered her early days in the truck. “Back then, most of the trucks served barbecue. Now, there’s all sorts of amazing cuisine from Asia, Africa, Europe – you name it.”
Cavia says patrons can experience those culinary choices without spending a lot of money – a big reason food truck popularity continues to rise. No, food trucks will never replace brick and mortar restaurants, but that’s not the point. Cavia says if there are people with the culinary vision and the drive (pardon the pun) to bring it to the streets, there will be patrons eager to sample it.
“The change from when I first started is amazing. Every day there are people calling to ask how they can start their own food truck. I don’t see it slowing down,” Cavia said.
El Tenador belongs to a group called The Food Truck Mafia. To check out its list of trucks, their food, and where you can find them, head on-line to kcfoodtruckmafia.com. To find KC Fooditude, check out their Facebook page by searching KCFooditude.