Food truck craze on the rise

Lanikai Express is a Hawaiian barbecue style food truck that works out of Lanikai Grill in South Jordan. Daysha Filipe, the truck's owner, said driving the truck to its various locations is one of hardest parts of her job. Photo by Daysha Filipe.

Lanikai Express is a Hawaiian barbecue style food truck that works out of Lanikai Grill in South Jordan. Daysha Filipe, the truck's owner, said driving the truck to its various locations is one of hardest parts of her job. Photo by Daysha Filipe.

Lanikai Express owner Daysha Filipe wakes up every morning at seven to get her food truck ready and on location in time for the lunch rush.

“Food trucks have been a big thing in the past three years, and I think it will last,” Filipe said. “Not certain trucks, though—they come and go. You have to have good food and good customer service to stick around.”

The mobile food industry is in its seventh year of consistent growth with over 4,000 registered trucks in the U.S. in 2015, according to Mobile Cuisine, an online food truck resource.

Many established restaurants, like Apollo Burger and Lanikai Express—based out of Filipe’s grandparent’s restaurant Lanikai Grill in South Jordan—have opened trucks to help brand their businesses.

Lanikai Express employees Braxton Filipe and Josh Taototo stand by the food truck, which opened in July. Filipe's sister, Daysha, deciding to open the truck to expand on their grandparent's restaurant, which is located in South Jordan. Photo by Daysha Filipe.

Lanikai Express employees Braxton Filipe and Josh Taototo stand by the food truck, which opened in July. Filipe's sister, Daysha, deciding to open the truck to expand on their grandparent's restaurant, which is located in South Jordan. Photo by Daysha Filipe.

Andrew Baguley, Apollo Burger’s director of operations, and Elysha Perfili, the organization’s food truck manager, have worked the food truck since it debuted in June.

“We see it as not just an opportunity to make money, but more for branding because it is a big, moving billboard,” Baguley said. “It was also an opportunity for us to have fun.  The food truck can be a hard day's work, but they are also my funnest days of work.”

Perfili tossed fries into a basket and called for order number 46, explaining why food trucks are more than just a trend.

“It seems like everyone wants to have a food truck,” Perfili said. “I think the newness of them, the different foods that can be provided, the speed and the convenience is what people like.”

Although summer is typically the primary season for food trucks, Perfili said she hopes to maintain Apollo Burger’s truck year round.

“Now that the summer is over things have slowed down, but we’re hoping to maintain steady business so that we don’t have to shut it down in the winter,” Perfili said.

Of the 200 registered food trucks in Salt Lake County, 90 percent prepare their food in a commissary—a commercial kitchen to prepare and store food, according to Filipe. From there, the food is loaded it onto the truck.

Unlike the majority of food trucks, Apollo Burger is one of the few trucks that cooks its food on the truck, according to Baguley.

“It cost us more to build this than the average home in Utah, but we have a legitimate kitchen on wheels,” Baguley said.

Filipe opened Lanikai Express in July and said she’s seen the boom of the food truck industry firsthand.

“My favorite part is seeing it grow,” she said. “We started with no bookings and scrambling to find locations, and now people are asking us if we are available to do events.”

Food trucks congregate every Monday night at Sugarmont Plaza in Sugar House throughout the summer months. There are over 200 registered food trucks in Salt Lake County and 4,000 across the United States, according to Mobile Cuisine. Photo by Kamarie DeVoogd.

Food trucks congregate every Monday night at Sugarmont Plaza in Sugar House throughout the summer months. There are over 200 registered food trucks in Salt Lake County and 4,000 across the United States, according to Mobile Cuisine. Photo by Kamarie DeVoogd.