News / USA

Building a Restaurant on Wheels from Inside Out

Building a Restaurant on Wheels from Inside Outi
X
March 04, 2013 11:26 PM
In recent years food trucks have proliferated in big U.S. cities. As the popularity of the mobile kitchen continues to grow, a small business in the Washington D.C. suburbs is also profiting. VOA’s June Soh takes us to East Coast Custom Coaches, a builder of food trucks.
June Soh
In recent years food trucks have proliferated in big U.S. cities.  As the popularity of the mobile kitchen continues to grow, a small business in the Washington D.C. suburbs is also profiting.  East Coast Custom Coaches is a builder of food trucks.

“You’ve got to come in, go around in this truck, and back out that window in three to four minutes, period,” says Lee Campbell, owner of East Coast Coaches who believes that is how long it should take for a chef to prepare food for customers.

“That is how we design our trucks to the chef. They are made for the chef," Campbell said.  "Are you right-handed or left-handed, are you real tall ...,”

East Coast Custom Coaches is based in Manassas, Virginia, outside Washington. Over the past several years, his team of 15 employees has built about 200 food trucks.

Gauri Sarin sells Asian fusion food in downtown Washington. Her mobile kitchen, Something Stuffed, was built by Campbell's team.

“I love the inside of my truck," she says. "I am very happy with all the equipment and where everything is located."  

Campbell says each truck has a different design depending on the cuisine.  One of his biggest challenges is finding the best use of the small space.  

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven pieces of equipment [are] right here," he said. "We maximize every square inch of it.  That is why I have a top-notch engineer on my staff.”

That engineer is Tom Mayhew.  He met Campbell many years ago when they were working as volunteer firefighters.

“I have 26 years in a fire department. So I have a keen eye for safeties," Mayhew said. "When I look at a design or a drawing, I take safety in consideration first.  Is it safe?  If it is, then we can design the way they [customers] feel like they want to make it.”

Jeff Kelly, of the D.C. Food Truck Association, says the trucks must also comply with local government regulations.  

"So working with somebody like Lee and East Coast Custom is important in that way because regulations are really hard to understand for someone just opening a truck for the first time," he said. "They know the rules, they know the regulations.  They build quality vehicles."

That is why Carmen and Chris Morse came to East Coast Custom.

“We are going to serve gourmet mini-burgers,” said Carmen.  

“We have worked in restaurants since we were young teenagers, things like that," Chris said. "This is our first venture on a mobile food truck. We are super excited."

Campbell says most food trucks in the Washington area are used vehicles from FedEx or the post office. The re-outfitting process takes two to three months and costs, on average, around $45,000 - a fraction of the cost of opening a regular restaurant.

"We have about 31 trucks to build," Campbell said. "We try to get four to five trucks out a month.”

Campbell expects to stay busy for many years to come, as the curbside restaurant industry keeps growing.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs