Food trucks, pop ups, kiosks, grab and go . . . hey wait . . .

Food Trucks at Klyde Warren ParkIt used to be you went to the food, now the food comes to you. At major events you scan your peripheral vision and see 20 food truck options from right to left.  Positioning imitates real estate,  where the end caps do better, and a parking lot can emulate a restaurant district.  Some people may are drawn to the truck with the shortest line. Others avoid that truck and seek what looks popular – no matter the wait. I was talking recently with Tom O’Brien, Contributing Editor for Foodservice Equipment and Supplies Magazine for his article, “Food on the Move.” We talked mostly about food trucks, a trend that has become a segment, but also about grab and go, pop-up restaurants and kiosks. Food trucks have to have an item.  Restaurants must be an item, something that guests can easily repeat back to their friends in a few words to explain and validate why people make the choice to dine with you.  Two years ago we changed a lot of things about one of our client’s restaurants.  One of the biggest changes we made was the signage and their tag line.  Sales increased 30%. Restaurants have gone from being the purveyors of top 40 hits to being Spotify playlists.  At the end of last year, I got the perennial call from a journalist asking about that year’s trends in the restaurant scene and predictions for the coming year.  For the first time, I finally said there are so many micro trends and segments out there that the most important thing to talk about is the volume of choices. That is good for the guest and challenging for the restaurant operator.  Whether you own a food truck or a group of independent restaurants, it is more important than ever to clearly communicate your brand to the dining public.  If people don’t know what you are, they may not choose to patronize you. Or even worse, they might patronize and through all of their available platforms, define what you are in a disadvantageous way. It is imperative that you differentiate yourself from your competitors, and know what you are and what you are not – defined through culture, branding, training, and marketing. What are you known for?