I remember during my first week's of college enjoying nothing better than eating a sausage with loads of onions, peppers and chili sauce from a mobile vendor outside the gates of my university. The food was outstanding, but so was the atmosphere. I didn't realize then that I was witnessing the future of food franchising.
Mobile food franchises like ZooHoo and FishTales have taken this grassroots eating concept and tried to spread it around America. Advertising Age has examined the rise of mobile eateries in a recent article. Their theory is that van-based based businesses owe a lot of their success to popular interest in new ethnic cuisine. They mention Korean, El Salvadorean and Thai food concepts, street food essentially, that are reaching new markets simply by driving to them.
They've allowed those flavors to more easily surface and spread through cities and allow more people to try them," Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director at Sterling Rice Group, an agency that tracks restaurant and culinary trends, told AA. "They've allowed for those flavors to enter the mainstream via a different way and we're seeing those kinds of flavors make their way into more brick-and-mortar establishments."
But even as traditional eateries look to embrace the spirit of mobile cuisine, many industry leaders from food franchising are expanding into the mobile market. Chipotle's launched a chain called Shop House, and there's an interesting concept on the way called 100 Montaditos.
This article suggests that in this struggling economy, mobile food franchises are the best course for entrepreneurs looking to get an edge on the competition.