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Food Trucks Are on a Roll, Despite Paperwork

It's one reason why L.A. led the way in food truck innovations. In the past most L.A. food trucks were akin to the Mexican taco vendors, Geller says, but Kogi re-set the standard in 2008-09 by offering cheap fusion Korean barbecue and Mexican dishes and using Twitter to alert customers where they would stop each day.

"There are some trucks that don't have a lot of Twitter followers and rely more on being at the right place," Geller says. "They're never going to do as well as the ones that have Twitter."

It's important for food truck owners to expect the unexpected, Hunt says.

The ability to be flexible and to be "light on your toes" is imperative when running a food truck or cart, says Cake & Shake co-owner Derek Hunt.

Cake & Shake's original cart was in Washington Square Park (the second is in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) but is becoming a roaming city cart -- of course requiring a new permit -- as a result of continued construction in the famous park and disappointment in results there.

"That location has not turned out to be what we intended. That location goes in ebbs and flows, and what we need is something a little more consistent. We're going to reposition ourselves and have another cart moving around town that it can be in significant revenue-generating areas," Hunt says.

Traditional business models are unlikely to succeed in this unique industry, and it's important to be flexible.

During one winter blizzard, Hunt decided he was indeed going to open the next day. Instead of using his van to carry products to the cart, he shuttled food products with his four-wheel drive vehicle.

"I was the only cart probably in New York City," he says. "I didn't see anyone else that day, and we made a killing because every child was out of school and every adult was out of work and everyone wanted a hot cup of coffee."

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