Since the pandemic, many food trucks in the city have either shut shop or have ventured into a cloud kitchen model
For a food-loving city like Bengaluru, before it was hit by the pandemic, it thrived with food trucks in different parts of the city. Almost all major events had food trucks parked outside, offering various cuisines from short eats to grilled items for people to try. However, from a city that almost had 60 food trucks in 2019 now only has a handful. While many shut down due to the pandemic, some of the food trucks adopted a home delivery and takeaway option to function as a restaurant instead of a mobile truck.
Siddhanth Sawkar, owner of The Spitfire BBQ Truck, is one of them who is re-thinking the way he wants to run this business. Currently managing a pizzeria called Siddy’s Pizza in Yelahanka New Town, he plans to restart the truck operations by February in Indiranagar. Speaking to CE, he says, “I haven’t operated the food truck since 2019 due to cholera scare on the food streets. But it was the pandemic that forced me to completely shut my food truck in 2020. So I started Siddy’s Pizza during the lockdown.”
He plans to use one of his plots in Indiranagar to station the food truck and use the parking lot as an alfresco set-up. “This way, the license that I will be using will be of a restaurant but the food truck remains as our kitchen. We have a lot of things planned for everything we want to do with The Spitfire BBQ Truck and I can’t wait to get started,” adds Sawkar.
Even after a few years of requesting with the government, the registered body of The Bangalore Food Trucks Association (BFTA) is still waiting for food trucks to have a proper licensing system. While the truck owners get a food safety certification, license to sell and collect GST, they are still regarded as street vendors.
Umesh Chandran, owner of Square Ruth, says it’s important to have a good connection with the local police so that they can run the business. He explains, “When we started our food truck in 2016, we were in ITPL Road. We now operate as a kitchen and only do home delivery. As much as we’d like to take the truck out, it has its own challenges.”
Chandran points out that since events and functions are taking place now, he has been getting calls to drive the food truck to certain locations. “It’s great to know that people want the food truck experience and I’ve been getting plenty of calls regarding this. But I don’t have enough staff to make it happen. The truck is there with me and I hope to get it operational again,” he adds.
Private and corporate events are the best way for food truckers to make profits. Hailing from a hospitality background, co-owner of Mangalore in Bangalore, Sanket V Kharvi, says that the crowds are slowly picking up again. Located in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the Mangalorean cuisine food truck is operations every evening.
Kharvi explains, “Thanks to the withdrawal of the curfew, we are able to keep our truck operational for a longer time. Food trucks in general maintain really good standards, contrary to popular beliefs and I think people understand that. Thankfully, the authorities nearby are also supportive and we’ve been able to have a steady business so far.”
While some may be skeptical about owning food trucks now, especially during the pandemic, Kharvi says, “If you have the location figured out and the local authorities to help you out, it’s a great business to run. Sometimes the restaurants that you’re parked nearby can create issues but as long as you have it figured out, it’s a good set-up to venture into.”