Food trucks better prepared to weather COVID-19 than restaurants?


In some ways, yes, but it’s still a rocky road ahead. In some ways, food trucks are better off than restaurants right now: Operators aren’t trying to heat patios to prolong outdoor dining, space out tables, or decipher air-filtration systems. Still, it’s a difficult road ahead as winter looms, with more people working at home and less foot traffic in urban areas. Can they ride out the storm?

“I think things will get worse before they get better,” says Jon Moy, who operates the Moyzilla dumpling truck. Normally he runs a fleet of four vehicles, but he’s down to one or two, and he recently closed a brick-and-mortar location in the Seaport. He previously managed 28 people, but now he’s working with his wife and two other employees.

Another issue is marketing, says CommonWealth Kitchen cofounder and executive director Jen Faigel. Her Dorchester nonprofit provides shared kitchen space, parking, and other resources to food trucks. She normally works with roughly a dozen trucks, but only three are on the road. Some are temporarily hibernating, others have shuttered for good.

“The problem is, if nobody knows where to find you and there’s no concentration of people in reliable places, what do you do? The simple math on a food truck is, if you go out for a lunch gig, you have to do at least 125 tickets to cover your costs. Trucks are now doing 30 tickets,” she says.

Truckers are masked and gloved, and they arrive in the neighborhood ready to dole out preorders.

“People really love a food truck coming to their block, and the food trucks appreciate the business. Trucks lived on office workers, tourists, students, and walk-by urban traffic, so StrEATs has been a big help with so much remote working and schooling. We’ve found that folks are grateful for another safe option, and the food trucks are extremely grateful for the business. Ultimately, though, these businesses depend on foot traffic, not one-off parties. We’ll just keep trucking along, no pun intended. But there really is no easy answer. It has not been a profitable time,” she concluded.