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Restaurants reinvent the food truck

Restaurants are branching out with gourmet food trucks to capture fast-growing trend. Food trucks allow restaurants to experiment with new offerings.


A young customer eats a cupcake bought from a truck in Chicago. Sales from food trucks are expected to quadruple by 2017, to $2.7 billion.

Sitthixay Ditthavong/AP/File

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Nothing beats escaping the office for a summer lunch outside. Maybe you were organized enough to pack your lunch. Even better: Your favorite restaurant rolls up to the curb and hands you a paper carton of teriyaki chicken nestled on a bed of steaming rice.

From grilled cheese to cupcakes to the latest fusion cuisines, a growing number of food trucks are roving city streets as patrons – and now restaurants – discover the ease, ingenuity, and affordability of sidewalk meals.

Street vendors – from quilted aluminum vending trucks at construction sites to ice cream trucks selling to children – have been around for decades. But enterprising restaurateurs have updated that model with splashy logos on delivery trucks retrofitted with kitchens. Through social media sites, patrons can track down their favorite trucks whenever the hankering for a hot fish taco or falafel wrap strikes.

With low overhead, quick service, and the flexibility to adapt to trends, food trucks are the fastest-growing dining industry in the United States. Over the past five years, the sector has grown an average 8.4 percent a year, according to industry analyst IBISWorld in Los Angeles. Food truck revenue, which last year reached $650 million, is expected to quadruple to $2.7 billion by 2017, according to Emergent Research, a small-business research and consulting firm based in Lafayette, Calif.


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