Mobile food truck strategies

Eli's Food Truck on the move.

Disclaimer: This article is a follow up to previous articles on the food truck movement across the United States and specifically Michigan. This article is not intended to provide specific endorsement or support for a specific business enterprise but to provide educational information and resources when considering this business model of food delivery. Food trucks continue to be a popular mode of food delivery in communities across the state of Michigan. The advancement of this delivery strategy could continue to provide Michigan communities with to food at many different venues, including festivals, special events and static food service locations. One example of a true mobile unit is in Port Huron and the greater St. Clair County area is Eli’s Eats in the Streets.

Eli’s Eats in the Streets, is owned and operated by Gary Lokers. The business, established in 2017, is named after Gary’s son Eli. Gary’s business planning included private self-funding, and interest was spurred by his interest in cooking and the desire to have people enjoy his food. Although Eli’s offers what some would consider traditional food truck food fare, Gary enjoys offering more eclectic food experiences that please customers. Preparation for delivery takes as much as three days prepping his special condiments for hot dogs and other items including side dishes.

In anticipation of creating his business concept, Gary did significant research at fairs and other events. Additionally, he became familiar with standard mobile food service rules and regulations through various regulatory agencies including the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and local health department codes and regulations. 

In a recent interview, Gary discussed his concern about the recent Hepatitis A outbreak and wanted to be sure that his service was safe and secure for his customers. He also takes care to make sure that food safety and equipment safety are paramount. 

Gary also makes connecting with his customers as a priority. This requires “having a relationship with your customers,” Gary said. Following the dream of owning his food business and creating unique food experiences from his mobile unit has served Gary beyond his first year in business. Staying current on regulatory matters, local health safety rules, and providing a positive food experience are key to Gary’s success. 

For more information about starting a food truck operation or something similar, contact your local MSU Extension office and inquire about assistance from an MSU Product Center counselor. Counselors can guide your initial decision making process and point you in the direction of additional research as you decide if this mode of food service delivery is for you.

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