Food truck industry is growing in Cache Valley and nationwide

Brooke Goates writes an order on a cup at of Kari Anne’s Frozen Desserts on Wednesday. July 29, 2021. The food truck is one of the busiest of it's kind in Logan.

LOGAN – The food truck industry is not only becoming popular in Cache Valley, the food truck industry is the fastest growing sector of the food industry nationwide. The mobile food kitchens seem to come from everywhere during the Cache County Fair, Cache County Gardner’s Market, Summerfest and more.

Anna Blanchard cleans a table for Kari Anne’s Frozen Desserts on Tuesday July 26 before the afternoon rush of clients. The frozen dessert food truck is one of the busiest dessert mobile kitchens in Logan on hot days.

As of Jan. 2021, IBISWorld estimated there were 24,602 food trucks and the industry has grown 7.5 percent to a $2.1 billion industry in the past five years.

And yet some are setting up shop in parking lots and vacant lots and wherever profitable locations are found. What used to be known as a place to get a cheap bite to eat is becoming an alternative to sit down restaurants.

A few years ago there were only a few around Logan, but it seems like food trucks and pop shops are springing up everywhere there is a space.

There are as many as 18 licensed food trucks in Logan,” said Michelle Anderson, who works in Logan’s division of business licensing. “Some of those are reciprocal licenses or food tucks that are licensed in another city but operate here.”

A group at Kari Anne’s Frozen Desserts sits in the shade and enjoys some cool refreshment on a hot July 27, 2021 afternoon.

The city requires a completed application form, vehicle/trailer registration, a permit from the health department and photographs of the operation. There is a list of rules vendors need to follow and Logan City charges $75 for a mobile food vendor license.

Kari Anne’s Frozen Desserts is located in the parking lot of Lynn’s Audio Video, located at 1655 North Main and always has a line of customers in front it. They serve Italian ice and frozen custard with multiple different flavors. They operate with a temporary license because they are a seasonal business.

Not too many people want to buy frozen desserts in the winter.

Rexburg, Idaho owner Jessica Mortenson said they have 25 employees who are high school and college-age kids. She said they started in Rexburg, then put one in Logan and recently put another one in Pocatello.

Customers wait for their order at Pollo Azteca on Tuesday July 27, 2021.

“There are some struggles to running a food truck,” she said. “It’s perfect to do in the summers, then at the end of the season we have to haul everything to storage and winterize the trailer until the following Spring.”

The original food truck owner was a Brigham Young University-Idaho student who came up with the idea for a business project. When he graduated, the Mortensen’s offered to buy his business.

“He had little experience and not a lot of capital when he graduated. It wasn’t making a lot of money so we bought it,” she said. “The concept was amazing, and we felt like we could grow the business.”

The Mortensen family frequented the place and her husband Damon decided it was a good business prospect, so they bought it.

Rent and utilities for food trucks can cost $700 to $1000 depending on the cost of electricity, water and sewer.

Alex Lopez shows the ingredients of a Pollo Azteca burrito on Tuesday July 27, 2021. The Pollo Azteca food truck is always busy at meal time.

Pollo Azteca, located at 795 North Main serves Mexican dishes and has been there for two years.

Alex Lopez said they do a good business, but there are worries that go along with their mobile kitchen.

The cost of the ingredients is going up, school is starting soon, and it is hard to find people who want to work,” Lopez said. “My mom and dad cook all the food, and all of the recipes are from Mexico.”

Their chicken is cooked over mesquite and the chicken is marinated for two days before it is cooked. The chicken is put in a tortilla with beans, cheese and other ingredients. The business supports a family of six.

Ernesto Espinoza stands in front of two food trucks he uses for cooking his cuisine on Tuesday July 27, 2021. He claims this location at the Y intersection in south Logan has been a profitable one.

Ernesto Espinoza has a truck located at the south end of Logan, located at the “Y” intersection (approximately 900 South Main where Highway 89 and 165 split). He, too, serves Mexican cuisine.

“I had a place in Hyrum, but I moved to this location,” he said. “I’m busier here, especially between 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and again at 4 to 6 p.m.”

Dave and Carol Brown of Hyrum are entering the food truck market with their A Bite to Eat mobile kitchen.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield employee would like to use it as a side hustle.

“In 2018 we were walking though Summerfest and my son and I challenged ourselves to get a food truck by 2020,” he said. “COVID kind of put us behind.”

Dave and Carol Brown stand in front of their relatively new food truck on Thursday July 29, 2021. They are new to the mobile kitchen business but have a unique menu they hope will be a hit with food truck enthusiasts.

This year they are considered a multi-event food truck so they can only go where they are invited, but next year A Bite to Eat will be able to go anywhere.

“We cater weddings and special events,” he said. “We will be at…Trout and berry Days coming up.”

Brown said their specialty is Poutine, a Canadian French fry dish that includes gravy and cheese curds that can be topped with meat and gravy. They also do a variety of macaroni and cheese dishes.

Our goal was to make something unique, something that no one else offers,” he said.

More and more mobile kitchens are taking the place of company and family gatherings. The food is good and it is less trouble for those planning a meal.

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