WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - Top area chefs are going head to head Saturday in the Food Truck Challenge at Crocker Park in Westlake. It's the largest event of its kind in the Cleveland-area. The competition highlights gourmet food but also the booming business of mobile meals.
A year ago, Ted Dupaski was working a corporate job. Now he's winning awards for his Texas Style Smoked BBQ. He could afford the switch without the expense of having a brick and mortar restaurant. Enter: his Proper Pig food truck.
"We actually bought the truck for a thousand dollars on Craigslist, built the whole thing ourselves, stripped it down, we didn't know what we were doing, the only thing we paid for was the logo and electrical inside," says Dupaski.
The trucks are a more efficient way to do food. Start-up costs are significantly less than a restaurant, on average about $80,000 for a truck versus well into the hundreds of thousands for a restaurant. the profit margins are better too.
"Without the lease and everything else you need at a brick and mortar restaurant you're a little more flexible on your overhead and price," says Dupaski.
The average cost for customers is about $10 for a mobile meal. It's a unique and a fairly easy way to do lunch on the go.
"You're getting an E. 4th Street downtown meal for $12 out of a food truck," says Dupaski.
Social media plays a big role in a truck's success. Every morning these vendors are Facebooking and tweeting about where they're going to be.
"One of the biggest things you can do is get a nice following. Those are the people you need to come out every day because they can't just come to your restaurant," says Dupaski.
Those Twitter and Facebook pages have been busy promoting the challenge saturday. More than 9,000 people are expected. The food truck challenge runs from 11 a.m. until 4pm.