Food Truck Court is in session

Richmond’s food truck entrepreneurs are making two new pit stops.

In July, the parking lots at Chesterfield Towne Center and the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery will be filled with the smell of turkey burgers, curry and coffee — and perhaps a hint of motor oil.

Richmond’s traveling Food Truck Court will pull in to the Southside shopping center on Wednesdays and will park at Hardywood Brewery near the Diamond on Thursdays beginning the second week of July.

The gathering of about 10 food trucks began making stops across Richmond this spring, and employees at Chesterfield Towne Center took notice.

“Some of the mall team had been attending the event downtown and loved it,” said Ashley York Venable, a property manager for the mall. “So we wanted to bring that same opportunity here for our neighborhood.”

Organizer Patrick Harris, who owns Boka Tako Truck, Boka 2 and the Boka Kart, said the food truck business is getting more popular.

“There’s a lot of them out there, and people have really stepped up their game,” Harris said.

“A lot of trucks, they make bologna burgers and French fries. They do a lot of standard, uninteresting food,” he said. “We try to encourage people who are going to participate to do interesting food.”

The lineup includes Thai Cabin, which serves teriyaki and sesame chicken as well as curry and noodles. Extensions of Habanero’s Mexican Grill and Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream are also in the fold.

The trucks are individually owned and operated, and the Food Truck Court operates more as an event than as a collective business, Harris said.

He negotiates with each venue separately. Individual trucks pay Harris to cover the operational costs such as setup, break down, marketing and any fees the venue might impose.

The fees only cover costs, Harris said, and he makes his profit from selling food from his truck at each event.

The Food Truck Court has set up Tuesday and Friday nights at the Virginia Historical Society since early April. Harris said the events have drawn between 500 and 1,000 people on Tuesday nights and 1,500 to 2,000 on Fridays.

The first Chesterfield Towne Center food court will be July 11, with the first Hardywood Brewery event a day later.

More reading:
How to make it in the food truck business (NPR Podcast)

Opening a successful foot truck (Inc.)

Driver’s ed for would-be food truck entrepreneurs (Businessweek)

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Mike Ogilvie

Looking forward to it! Great for all of us south of the river. Rooster Cart and RVA Vegan are my favorite!