The number of food trucks, once a popular choice for urban diners, has been steadily declining over the years. These unique dining options, complete with fully equipped kitchens, have been the first choice for students and corporate employees alike. But truck owners say the number of mobile restaurants has dwindled rapidly in the wake of the pandemic, and business has plummeted.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, we were asked to move back to our hometown or stay at home until the situation was under control. We had no other source of income,” said food truck owner M Basavaraju. Many small truck owners continue in the business.
However, mobile restaurants have several inherent advantages, such as low monthly rent and fees. In addition, owners have the flexibility to choose the location. “I have worked in the food industry for decades. Owning a restaurant is very expensive and tedious. Rents in Bangalore are too high, so we are not making any profit,” says Gowdru Mane Biryani owner.
Owners such as Nagaraj also spoke of the problems they faced, such as bribing government officials to conduct business while suffering losses during the pandemic.
Sheikh Rihal, co-founder of the Two to Tango truck, points out that Bengaluru’s food truck scene has declined dramatically in recent years. At its peak between 2014 and 2016, the city had about 48 food trucks operating, but that number has now dropped to just 10. Rihal attributes this decline to frequent changes in truck locations.
“If a truck is parked in Koramangala for a few days, if the same group of customers come back there another day and cannot find it, their interest will die. There will be only a few customers in the end. Another reason may be space constraints. Some communities complained Less parking spaces and rubbish on the roads. The permitting process is also difficult,” Rihal said.
Rihal highlighted one of the challenges food truck operators face – parking management. Customers often park their vehicles regardless of the flow of traffic and may be offended when asked to move. This creates a tricky situation that the operator must navigate carefully.
For Kiran, co-founding the food truck company Urban Chole Bhatoore was a dream come true. “We are IT professionals from Mumbai. We got bored with the monotony, so we decided to come back to Bangalore and start a food business,” he said. “We now have an online presence and have received positive feedback from satisfied customers. It’s more fulfilling and less expensive for us and our customers”