Hunter J. Wheat, owner of Midtown’s upcoming food truck attraction Bleu Garten, said Oklahoma City is experiencing a “food truck renaissance.” Wheat said that’s why he is working to open Bleu Garten, a family-friendly outdoor arena for food trucks and live entertainment, scheduled to open in fall 2014.
Located at the corner of N.W. 10th Street and Harvey Avenue, Bleu Garten will feature a bar, live music and local art.
“Children are picky and this location will provide several options for families,” Wheat said. “It will be family-friendly and a safe place to have a good time.”
Wheat attributes the renaissance to many local business owners’ desire to “get their feet wet” before starting a new venture.
“Food trucks aren’t as risky to investors as traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants,” Wheat said. “The start-up costs and operating expenses aren’t as high.”
Niesha Harris of Off the Hook Seafood and More agrees.
“There are so many talented chefs in Oklahoma who just cannot afford to open a restaurant.,” she said. “The best way to work your way up is with a mobile kitchen.”
A tasty scavenger hunt
Bleu Garten isn’t the only venue to celebrate food trucks. On the last Friday of every month, through October, H&8th Night Market throws a block party, complete with more than 30 food trucks and live entertainment. Travis Reeks of Mexi-Dog Food Truck says he decided to open his truck because he loves cooking for others.
“I cook for everyone every Sunday,” he explained. “I love to be in the kitchen, and I really enjoy getting feedback on the dishes I serve. I also love the flexibility of the food truck.”
Kawanna Coppage, Chick N Wangs co-owner and operator, said people want a wide variety of food choices and this is why so many food trucks and venues are starting up in the metro.
“Business is booming because trucks offer variety and flexibility and a good meal,” Coppage said. “This isn’t carnival food. You can get a fast home-cooked meal.”
Raena Muntz, owner and operator of Roxy’s Ice Cream Social, says she thinks food trucks are becoming more popular because it’s exciting and new.
“Food trucks are a little like scavenger hunts,” said Muntz, who started in the food truck business with the Munch Box in 2011. “You have to go on an adventure and search for them.”
Muntz’s husband also has a hand in the local food truck business. His company, Shane’s Custom Creations, designs trucks for Oklahoma City and as far away as Colorado and Texas. Shane said his trucks, which start at $25,000, have featured everything from ice cream to pretzels and even an authentic brick pizza oven.
Local meals on wheels
Food trucks may be popular and exciting, but how does the food actually taste? Alex Lynch of Oklahoma City said he visits H&8th every month for the entertainment and food choices.
“They have everything from fresh seafood to chicken wings to pizza. I can’t even imagine how much I’ve spent at Off the Hook,” Lynch said.
2 Brothers Bistro serves up a mean meatball sub and other authentic Italian food choices. Named for her two sons, Candace Gideo attributes her success to experience.
“Having a history in the food industry makes the food better.” she said. “We previously owned 2 Brothers Pizza. We sold our restaurant as the trend was going towards mobile food.”
As Kawanna Coppage of Chick N Wangs leans out the window with a basket of hand-breaded chicken wings with her husband’s secret spices, she often chats with customers.
“Kawanna is the nicest person you could ever meet,” said LaWanda Porter of Houston, Texas. “We have food trucks in our city, but no one actually takes time to chit-chat with us. They just sling the food out.”
Coppage said she is blessed in what she has been given and wants to share it with others.
“Sometimes when we are working late, a person may come up to truck and tells us he’s hungry. I never turn anyone down who wants some water or a bite to eat. If I can’t afford to give someone an $8 meal, I’m in the wrong business.”
What food truck venture would be complete without dessert? Roxy’s Ice Cream Social serves up homemade ice cream, right from a brightly-colored truck that looks like an ice cream cone. On the menu are popular flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, cherry and several others. Roxy’s also serves ice cream sandwiches made with homemade cookies.
“This is real homemade chocolate chip cookies and not that crumbly stuff you get at the store, said Oklahoma City native Charles Lewis. “And the ice cream is perfect. It’s natural, not too sweet and not too bland.”
What is a hungry family to do when they are craving their favorite delicacy, but don’t know where to find their favorite trucks? A free app called Truck it OKC allows users to track food trucks all over the greater Oklahoma City area in real tme. The app allows you to see menus, operating hours and the truck’s next stops. The free app is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and is anticipated to be available for Android phones in 2014. As of August 2014, the app tracks more than 30 trucks and has been downloaded by more than 2,000 food truck aficionados.