Roaming Hunger Hooks Up Food Trucks
Ross Resnick was just a ‘hungry guy’ who liked the food truck experience and wanted to connect a disjointed industry.
Think of it as a dating service for food trucks. Roaming Hunger is a national food truck booking service that connects consumers with food trucks in real time. And if you’re looking for a truck for a food event in Minnesota or just to find out where your street food fix is going to be next Tuesday, you can log onto their website and see 200 Minnesota options. And of course, there’s an app for that.
Ross Resnick is the president and founder of the concept, but his preferred title is Big Burrito. “I thought it would be fun to pick your own title,” he said in a phone interview.
The site has been around 10 years, but a lot has changed in those years in both technology and in the food truck industry.
“There were 300 food trucks and carts nationally at the time we formed,” he said. “What was initially exciting was following all these food trucks for the first four or five years, then what kinda happened, for whatever reason, was people thought it wasn’t convenient to follow the trucks, but rather wanted a kitchen that filled the gaps at events, parties wedding, consumer stops where people can eat together.”
There are now more than 16,000 vendors on the site, a mix of food trucks, pop-ups and caterers who want to fill their calendars. “We provide software that helps them get booked, plus we hook them up with people who contact us,” Resnick said
It’s basically the convenience of having a kitchen where there wasn’t one before. Which is why you’ll see a food truck parked regularly at venues such as Modist Brewing in the North Loop and in downtown Minneapolis to handle the high-rise office lunch rush.
While food trucks used to be guilty food, such as fare you’d find at the fair, the search for nutrition has created a demand for healthy food on wheels. And yet, “a lot of places we typically see food trucks aren’t where people are thinking about healthy eating,” he said. But that’s changing.
A positive trend is “a lot of ethnic food in trucks and trailers,” Resnick said. “It helps people who may not have the funds to open a brick and mortar. We’ve seen so many varieties: Japanese festival food truck, a double-decker South African meat pie truck.”
The value in having a food truck is that the start-up costs are low in comparison to a brick-and-mortar location and it’s an easy way to interact with customers to see what they want. It’s also a test run to see if the restaurant life is for you.
There’s no charge to be listed on the Roaming Hunger website or to receive a lead from the company. “To use our software there’s a cost,” Resnick said. Their revenue also comes from event planners for businesses and events looking for specific cuisine.
An unusual feature is their 120 percent guarantee to event planners who hire the food trucks. “If something goes wrong, they get 120 percent of the money back,” he said. “That’s the cost of getting peace of mind for our event planners.” And the Big Burrito shoulders all that cost, not the food truck.
The software allows a food truck owner to run their invoices, contracts and pricing through a system designed specifically for their style of business. “Using our software, you’re plugged into the community of needs for gigs,” he explained. “We’ll help with menus for specific events; we have a place called marketplace for equipment sales.”
Food trucks also may be a gateway vehicle for operators moving into catering, pop-ups and then opening a stationary restaurant. “I think what we’re seeing is trucks are food brands with a piece of equipment,” Resnick said—as in a roving billboard.
The trend is heating up thanks to the millennials who are all about spending money on experiences.
If there’s a downside to the business, it’s the weather and the fact that “every time you move you have to stop cooking.”
And in truck-eat-truck economy, it’s nice to have someone looking out for your location, since it’s always a moving target.