by Siobhan Gleason
Food trucks have always been a part of city life, but in the past few years they have exploded in popularity. Many of the most famous trucks are brightly colored and sell classic street food (waffles, pizza, donuts) with unusual and creative twists.
They attract crowds wherever they go and participate in big events in Philadelphia. Foolish Waffles, the truck I interviewed, won two awards recently at the Vendy Awards, a taste-test competition between some of the top trucks in the city.
You may recognize Foolish Waffles at the Farmers Market at Winston Road and Germantown Avenue on Saturday mornings. Florence Gardner, a worker on the truck tells me, “The Chestnut Hill Farmers Market is our only weekly gig, and we feel really lucky to have such a supportive group of regulars.”
While food trucks are experiencing a jump in popularity, working on one is a big commitment. Gardner described a daily schedule for Foolish Waffles. A maximum of four people work on the truck at any time. They are responsible for every aspect of the operation. Tasks include prepping food, loading the truck, cooking, washing dishes and the truck, conducting inventory and processing sales.
In Gardner’s words, working on a food truck “can be very intimate and labor intensive.”
Though it is hard work running a food truck, the payoff makes it all worth it. For Gardner, the most rewarding parts of the job are the food and the people. Gardner and her co-workers use waffles as a “blank canvas” and have fun with changing their menu. They make sure to add items that are inspired by bands that play at the Mann Music Center when they vend there. They also created a menu inspired by the TV show “Game of Thrones” at Love Park.
Foolish Waffles’ choice of where to vend might seem to be based on personal preference for the day, but Gardner says the system is more complex than that. Philadelphia has strict zoning regulations and frequently requires an application fee to vend in certain neighborhoods.
Gardner and her co-workers haven’t looked into vending in neighborhoods that don’t require an application. For now, Foolish Waffles is perfectly happy to vend downtown and in Chestnut Hill.