Food Truck Fast Lane

one-day UWEC course gives you the basics of operating a food truck business

Brendon Paucek, photos by Andrea Paulseth

ONE FOR THE ROAD. One of Eau Claire’s most recognizable food trucks, Gordo’s Food Truck serves fresh, made-to-order Mexican street food.
ONE FOR THE ROAD. One of Eau Claire’s most recognizable food trucks, Gordo’s Food Truck serves fresh, made-to-order Mexican street food.

Food trucks are authentic, delicious, and they’re starting to add to Eau Claire’s local identity and quality of life, which are all great reasons why the Chippewa Valley needs some more of their flavor. Next month, UW-Eau Claire’s Continuing Education program is offering a one-day course called Launching Your Food Truck Business. The course is aimed at helping entrepreneurs, small business owners, current food truck owners, and any individuals interested in starting their own food truck businesses.

“Food trucks bring vibrant flavors and opportunities to our community. ... In many instances, food trucks bring more foot traffic and consumption to local brick-and-mortar businesses. Instead of competing, this type of cluster can help both types of businesses thrive.” – Catherine Emmanuelle, Eau Claire City Council member and keynote speaker for food truck business course

Locally, food trucks became significantly more accessible earlier this year when the Eau Claire City Council voted to expand where food trucks can dish out their treats. Food trucks are able to operate between 8am and 11pm and are permitted in Owen, Phoenix, Carson, Riverview, Soccer, and Pinehurst parks as long as those parks aren’t hosting special events at the same time. Also, food trucks aren’t allowed to operate in residential areas, within 200 feet of restaurants, or at the same location for more than four hours. And, of course, they have to obey parking and traffic laws.

Students in the class will learn everything they need to get started. Speakers will discuss forming a viable business model, conducting research, and explaining all of the local regulations to follow. The cultural history of food trucks in the United States will also be explored.

“Food trucks are so much more than food – or trucks, for that matter,” said Eau Claire City Council representative Catherine Emmanuelle, who is the keynote speaker for the course. “Food trucks are incubators for small business owners, allowing people to try out an idea on a smaller financial scale, with the hopes that the food truck will grow to a viable business that may one day have a bricks-and-mortar presence, employing a local workforce.”

Emmanuelle is familiar with food truck culture from her native California. In fact, a family friend ran a juice cart at a transit station in the Bay Area. The business grew, and today he operates a brick-and-mortar juice joint.

On the surface, food trucks are culinary wonders on wheels, but their food and the individuals who own them also enhance our public spaces in lots of ways.

“Food trucks bring vibrant flavors and opportunities to our community, adding a diversity of options for eaters to choose from,” Emmanuelle said. “In many instances, food trucks bring more foot traffic and consumption to local brick-and-mortar businesses. Instead of competing, this type of cluster can help both types of businesses thrive.”

Indeed, there’s an increased presence of food trucks in 2016, and their wonderful pairing with local businesses is noticeable. It’s quite apparent food trucks and breweries are having a special love affair; they’re simply meant to be.

The course will be 9am-4pm, Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Clarion Hotel, 2703 Craig Road, Eau Claire. The $99 fee will include instruction from several speakers, course materials, and refreshments. Find out more and register online at uwec.ly/foodtruck1.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.