In the fall of 2020, it was clear to Aniket Tikhe, Nikhil Balwadkar and Vernon Cardozo that their Udta Punjab hotel would not survive the Covid pandemic. The trio closed their business and launched a food truck called Chefs On A Wheel in October 2020 with a small budget breakfast menu including a variety of omelettes, coffees, tea and fresh bun-maska, among others.
Today, the Chefs On A Wheel food trucks, located in Bavdhan and Aundh, are hubs for a loyal clientele of all ages who stop after their daily walks or errands, catch up with friends or simply relax with cups. of coffee.
On the other hand, Burgertron, known as much for its friendly service as for its delicious burgers and fries, had to cut short its expansion plans. By 2015, Burgertron had grown to five food trucks, but after the pandemic only one remains, parked in Balewadi High Street. In recent months, however, the number of customers has increased, so owner Gaurav Dhok is planning branding exercises to shore up the business.
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Like restaurants, many food trucks have definitely lowered the shutters. Those who have survived believe that with their flexible setup, smaller investments, and limited menu, food trucks are uniquely positioned to bounce back. With Ganeshotsav having attracted heavy footfall and a festive season ahead, food trucks are gearing up to make up for lost time and revenue.
“Social media has become an important part of our marketing process. The photos we take and post on Instagram and Facebook make people feel like part of our truck family,” says Aniket Tikhe. The reviews customers post on social media, vlogs, and blogs also help them increase sales and find innovative ways to reach more customers. Word of mouth and the use of social media are the two main marketing techniques for food trucks that also run promotions at events. By creating food truck Facebook and Instagram pages, food truck operators send constant reminders of popular dishes as well as news of trendy new additions to the menu. “This, in turn, adds new customer base to existing loyal subscribers,” says Gautam Raddi.
Gautam Raddi of food truck Out of My Kitchen is preparing to expand the menu, with additions of dishes such as Samodak, which is an innovative combination of samosa and modak. “There are other seasonally appropriate dishes for the holiday season,” says Gautam. With popularity comes long queues, which can have the effect of turning customers away, which is why Prajyot Bogawat, the owner of food truck Poona, pays special attention to the seating arrangements of his customers. “When people arrive in large numbers, it’s very important that they don’t wait too long. We are also working on other efficiencies so that people can also get quality food in less time,” says Prajyot.
Several food truck operators that started after the pandemic say the concept appeals to customers who seek different types of flavors and experiences, especially at a time when living standards and eating habits fluctuate, especially among young people. With people returning to offices, there is also an increase in customers ordering delivery or coming in a truck for a quick but relaxing bite. Millennials are among the most drawn to the food truck vibe.
After the pandemic, food trucks started partnering with food delivery apps. “Nowadays, these delivery apps are constantly increasing their share with owners, which, in turn, is hampering their profits. This is also decreasing our long-term customer base,” says a food truck operator. continue to deliver on the promises of the past few months, food trucks will start hiring.That’s the plan of food truck HT, whose owner Harshal Tambadkar says he’s “thinking about increasing the size of the staff” if the customers continue to come in large numbers this winter.