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Food Trucks Are on a Roll, Despite Paperwork

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As a child, Susan Povich summered in Maine with her grandparents, feasting on lobster rolls and whoopie pies.

Years later, as a professional chef, she has been able to recreate the memories of her childhood by offering the same treasured foods in her Brooklyn, N.Y., Red Hook Lobster Pound.

Chef Susan Povich uses her Red Hook Lobster Pound food trucks to recreate the memories of her favorite childhood food during vacations in Maine.

Red Hook Lobster launched its first lobster roll truck in Washington, D.C., in August and now has a second truck in D.C. and a third truck coming to New York City in a few weeks. The trucks change their locations daily and sometimes hourly, depending on the parking spots available.

That doesn't seem to be a problem, though. Customers find the trucks and will wait as long as two hours to get a lobster roll, she says.

"People will seek us out," Povich says. "We have a very unique product and probably one of the best ones. So I can park a couple of blocks off the main path and I will have enough traffic to find me."

Food trucks aren't new, but their popularity has grown tremendously in the past few years. The lower cost of entry has allowed chefs and restaurant industry insiders to experiment with gourmet-style street food, particularly since the recession all but halted accessible financing for small businesses.

"The restaurant will never die. This has become an offshoot option for people to have a different level of satisfaction," says Derek Hunt, co-owner of two New York City Cake & Shake food carts selling organic cupcakes, milkshakes and select hot lunches.

It's an increasingly popular one. Sales in the mobile caterers segment (in which many food trucks fall), is projected to grow by 3.6% this year, to $630 million, according to the National Restaurant Association, which rated food trucks and pop-up restaurants the top restaurant operational trend this year in an October survey.

The sub-sector is becoming so popular that the association is devoting an area at its annual trade show in late May to mobile food service, spokeswoman Annika Stensson says. The Food Truck Spot is to educate attendees on everything they need to start a food truck, from vehicle purchase to kitchen equipment.

For restaurant entrepreneurs, food trucks provide "opportunities to venture into the restaurant business or expand current concepts at relatively low cost," Stensson writes in an email. "The startup cost for a truck is typically well below that of a bricks-and-mortar restaurant."

Part of the appeal for customers is the "affordable price points for quality meals, the convenience of them coming to you (or at least close to your location), and the fun aspect of social media interaction," Stensson writes in an email.
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