Industry Trends

9 Places to Park Your Food Truck This Summer

By Alex Fainblum

Customers interacting with employees inside a food truck

It’s summer and this is your food truck’s time to shine. You’ve dedicated lots of time and money toward your truck, so make sure it gets noticed. Don’t just park your truck at the nearest vacant spot you see. Decide how far you’re willing to drive, what events you want to attend, and how you’re going to stand out from your competitors. Don’t know where to start?

Below are nine perfect parking spots for your food truck this upcoming summer and how to win over the crowds at each.  

1. Food Truck Festivals

You’ve got it, and you know they want it! Your patrons are going to food truck festivals to get their hands on the best food truck grub out there, not to dine-out at a five star restaurant. They don’t care for the comfy corner booth or the perfect four course meal, they want that fast and convenient food-on-wheels. You know you’re able to satisfy their needs, but so are all the other food trucks scattered around the festival. Make this your opportunity to check out all of your competitors, how they’ve designed their menu, and what their doing to get noticed.

How will you stand out from the rest? Pimp your ride! Make a customized licence plate that’ll set you apart from the rest or paint your truck in bright, vibrant colors. Hey, there’s no limit! Roll out a red carpet that leads your customers to the front window, add a small seating area outside of the truck, or have your staff rock a unique uniform to stand out. Use some of these creative strategies at your next food truck festival and you’ll be the highlight of the event.

Check out the food truck festival nearest to you this summer:

Chicago – Pilsen Food Truck Social: June 10-11th
Somersworth – Seacoast Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival: June 18th
Los Angeles – LA Food Fest 2017: July 10th
New Bedford  – New Bedford Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival: July 15th
Toronto – Toronto Food Truck Festival: August 4-7th
Columbus – Columbus Food Truck Festival: August 18-19th

For a complete list of 2017 food truck festivals click here

Cover of the ultimate guide to food truck marketing
The Ultimate Guide to Food Truck Marketing

Need to get the word out about your food truck?

Download Guide

2. Food and Drink Festivals

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a festival that brings all the best food and drink vendors together? This is your chance to feed tons of hungry patrons and network with other businesses who share the same passion as you. When you’re not busy selling your food to customers, make sure you introduce yourself to the other participants at the event. Make connections, build partnerships, and stay connected – these relationships can help you reach new markets and get exposed to a new audience.

Make sure everyone who’s going to be at the festival, knows you will be too. Contact the event organizers and see if they can feature your truck and your truck’s food on their Instagram, Twitter, or Event’s page. Get future festival goers excited by filling your social media with pictures of delicious food that they can expect from your truck at the event. Don’t forget to look into all the hashtags being used to promote the festival. Start using them in your posts and you’ll get noticed before the festival even begins.

Get the best parking spot at any of these upcoming food and drink festivals:

Chicago – Taste of Chicago: July 5-9th
Buffalo – Taste of Buffalo: July 8-9th
Toronto – TO Food Fest: July 9th
Los Angeles – 2017 LA Bacon Fest: July 22nd
Texas – Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival: August 20th

3. Financial Districts & Business Buildings

Working a typical 9-5 can get exhausting, especially when those hours are being spent indoors on a beautiful summer day. All your city’s corporate workers will be looking for an excuse to get outside and enjoy the warm weather over their lunch break. With little time to spare, make sure your truck is prepared for the large crowd of customers that will be running out of their office between noon and two for a quick bite to eat.

Just cooking good food isn’t enough in any city’s financial district. Whether you’re parked in Atlanta’s Buckhead districtLaSalle Street in Chicago, or Miami’s Brickell district, you’ll be feeding busy office workers that are running on a strict time schedule. Luckily for you, there are many apps that can help you meet the high demand quickly. By using apps like GrubHub, Nowait and Ritual, you can make it easier and faster for your customers to get their food.

4. Tourist Attractions

If you’re going to be traveling around your country, city, or state in an 18’ by 93’ box on wheels, you need to make sure you’re visiting the busiest destinations. And what gets more traffic than the attractions people travel from all around the world to come and see? Venues like Singapore’s ZooHollywood’s Walk of Fame, and New York’s Statue of Liberty, attract tourists for their unique characteristics and historical presence. After a day full of exploring, sightseers will be craving some tasty street food. Make sure you’re parked and ready to serve them your best dishes!

Chances are, most people visiting these destinations will be coming from outside the city or country. And what’s the one thing they must have on them when touring the whole city? A good old fashioned map. Get your food truck noticed by handing out branded maps to pedestrians walking by. Know of any tour guide companies? Partner with some popular ones by offering discounts to their customers if they use your food truck as their designated lunch stop.

5. City Parks

When the sun comes out and the jackets come off, you can find your city’s residents flocking to the park – especially on holidays like July 4th. With endless things to do, locals can spend countless hours here. Whether they’re taking their dog for a walk or are out for a stroll with some friends, you bet they’re working up an appetite. Most people will head home to satisfy their hunger, but no one wants to leave the park early when it’s a gorgeous day outside. Give your patrons a way to fill their bellies without having to cut their day short.

When serving customers at the park, come prepared with more than just good food. Keep some foldable chairs and picnic blankets handy for those who want to enjoy their meal sans-grass stains. Cater to your dog-walkers by leaving a few doggie bowls of water outside of your truck.

6. Shopping Centres

Nothing works up an appetite like spending some cash. After a full day of shopping all anyone really wants is a big tasty meal before heading home. But who wants to spend time in a food court full of screaming kids, loud music, and freezing air conditioning? No one. Park your truck outside your nearest shopping centre or visit one of the world’s most famous malls – you’ll have customers lining up in no time!  

But don’t show up with a boring old truck…dress to impress! Brighten up your truck with some eye-catching colors or blast some music from your truck’s speakers. You need everyone inside and outside the mall to know that you’re here and you’re ready to fill their bellies. Talk to some stores and give them coupons to hand out to their customers. Don’t forget it’s not just the spenders that will enjoy your truck’s fare – cater to the store managers and salespeople as well by offering a mall employee discounts and staying open past mall closing hours.

7. Sports Stadiums & Concert Venues

With their favorite artist or sports team playing metres away from them, fans can barely hold in their excitement. With a beer in one hand and the other fist pumping in the air, these dedicated fans don’t have room or time to think about food. But by the end of the event they’ve worked up one hell of an appetite that needs to be fed. Have your food truck parked and ready for the thousands of hungry fans running out those stadium doors.

Get in spirit! Have your staff dress up in the performing artist’s or sports team’s merch. You can even personalize your dishes and drinks to fit the theme of the event you’re parked at. So if you’re parked outside of a Beyonce concert, you could name your Green Salad, something cheeky like “Queen’s Greens”. Make sure you and your staff know some facts about the band performing or the sports teams playing. Knowing this info will help you make small talk with fans passing by and engage with your customers.

8. Outdoor Music Festivals

It’s festival season and any true raver has been waiting all year round for these next few months. A weekend consisting of all the best music, DJs, and food, it’s no surprise hundreds of thousands of people attend. Festival-goers will be in need of constant energy boosters to help them stay energized for when their favorite act hits the stage. So make sure your truck is all stocked up and ready to power through a 12 hour shift.

You may be in the constant presence of hungry festival attendees, but you’re not alone –look to your right, then look to your left. Tons of other food trucks are surrounding yours, and they’re ready to compete. Want to make sure your food truck crushes all of the others? Decorate your truck with bright colors, cool slogans, and awesome images. Make sure you interact with all your customers – even if that involves dancing and singing to the hottest DJs. Want to go one step further? Sneak in a free bottle of water with every meal you sell – your customers are most likely dying for a cold drink!

Test out these tips at one of these outdoor music festivals this summer:

Dover – Firefly: June 15-18th
Las Vegas – Electric Daisy Carnival: June 16-18th
Oregon – What the Festival: June 16-19th
Michigan – Electric Forest: June 22-25th
New York City – Panorama: July 28,29 and 30th
Chicago – Lollapalooza: August 3-6
Montreal – Osheaga: August 4-6th
Toronto – Veld Music Festival: August 5-6

9. Nightlife  

It’s been a slow day and you’re looking to make some last minute cash. But it’s 11pm! Hit up your city’s hottest nightlife district to feed all those hungry bar crawlers. After a night out of drinking and dancing, there’s nothing clubbers want more than to get their hands on some quick eats.

You can’t rely on the tipsy bar crawlers to simply stumble upon your truck. Make it known! Talk to the bars in your area and have them promote your truck. Get bartenders handing out coupons for your food truck with the purchase of a drink or partner up with a company like Uber by offering your customers $5 off a safe ride home with a minimum purchase.

From music festivals, to international tourist attractions, to good old city parks, the world is your oyster – or should we say your parking lot! But before you depart on your summer road trip, make sure you have all the required food truck licenses for each one of your planned destinations. Once you have all of the above figured out, it’s time to take your food truck business on the road. Good luck!

Cover of the ultimate guide to food truck marketing
The Ultimate Guide to Food Truck Marketing

Need to get the word out about your food truck?

Download Guide
Photo of Alex Fainblum
by Alex Fainblum

Alex is a Marketing Coordinator at TouchBistro where she writes about food and restaurant dining experiences. She’s a lover of all things chocolate covered but her true passion lies in late-night eating.

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