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Food trucks are big business in the Grand Valley

Allison Ildefonso
Special to the Free Press
Food Truck Friday attendees receive their order from ‘Ganic Grub, a food truck specializing in local, organic and sustainable food.
Allison Ildefonso / Special to Free Press |

The food truck industry is rapidly growing, with a 12.4 percent increase in the last five years, bringing in an average of $1.2 billion annually, according to a report by the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Currently, there are over 4,000 food trucks roaming the U.S. generating an average of $290,558 each per year.

“Knowing your market and the type of people that you serve in your community — will help you be successful,” said Tasha Haley, owner of ‘Ganic Grub, a local, organic and sustainable food truck service in the Grand Valley. “We like to do a lot of concerts, beer festivals, things that are definitely revolving around the customer base where people would like organic and sustainable food; so a lot of the mountain towns in Colorado.”

The Grand Valley has caught onto the food truck trend, with Food Truck Friday events running from May through October in downtown Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade at least once a month.



Robin Kauffman, owner of Mad Wrappers, a food truck that operates out of Paonia, Colo., said the idea to start her business developed last December and, after spending the winter revamping her trailer, began serving food at smaller events until discovering Food Truck Fridays.

“This year, we just kind of wanted to go slow and get our menu and our pricing down,” Kauffman said. “When I get ready to do catering or parties, I want to make sure we do a really good job and are able to serve a good menu; something that people are going to be very pleased with.”



Survey results from a 2012 study by Emergent Research revealed that customers spend about $9.80 at lunch and $14.99 at dinner. They not only enjoy the food truck fare, but the experience as well. Speed and convenience were listed as positives.

Starting up can be costly

Food trucks can be pricey to start up — the average cost of a truck itself, including wrapping and equipment, is $85,000. From there, business owners can spend about $1,500 for initial product inventory, $300 for permits and licenses, $100 for a quality website to accompany the business, and $500 to register a point of sales (POS) system in the truck. Other expenses include uniforms, paper products, pots, pans, and other miscellaneous items — bringing the total startup cost for an average food truck to just over $90,000.

While starting a food truck business isn’t cheap, according to Haley, it’s worth it.

“I think it’s definitely something unique,” Haley said. “The food that you get at our food truck, you won’t be able to find anywhere else.”

Mobile Kitchen for Bin 707

Although most food truck businesses operate in a similar fashion, one Grand Valley establishment has taken the concept to another level.

Josh Niernberg, owner and executive chef of Bin 707 Foodbar in downtown Grand Junction, explained how the restaurant was looking for a way to expand last summer — and they found their solution in a class IV food truck from Florida with a stand-alone kitchen.

“It was kind of a band-aid situation,” Niernberg said. “The easiest and most cost-effective way to get more kitchen space was to find a food truck that was able to be used as a professional kitchen.”

Niernberg is firm in his decision not to use the truck in the traditional sense; you won’t find the Bin 707 truck street-side selling tacos. In June alone, Niernberg catered seven events in the Grand Valley through West Slope Supper Club, a “pop-up dinner party” which showcases the area’s chefs, farmers and distillers.

So far, there is a little over $100,000 invested in the Bin food truck. With most of their events involving plated, five-course meals, labor costs tend to be higher than they would be for a traditional food truck.

“A big part of what I want to use the truck for is to perpetuate agritourism, and most of that stuff is out of my own pocket. It’s hard to put a value on that.” Niernberg said. “I would like to think that we’re getting back every dollar that I put into it.”

Grand Valley residents can find a multitude of traditional food trucks at Food Truck Fridays and even a few at the Thursday evening Farmer’s Market events from now through October. To find out where the next Food Truck Friday will take place, visit facebook.com/GrandValleyFoodTrucks.


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