How some restaurants evolved into food trucks to combat pandemic challenges

Around New York State

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Few industries have been hit harder and forced to alter their services during the pandemic than the food industry. For some, mobile sites and creative takeout venues have become the new norm.  

During the hot summer months, the Rochester Public Market bustles with popular names in the region’s restaurant family. Despite the increase in foot traffic this season, some of what used to be full restaurant kitchens have turned to the food truck businesses in an effort to stay afloat during post-pandemic times. 

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It is still a common challenge for restaurants and bars to hire enough to get back to full staff. But staffing a mini kitchen to operate a food truck is less of a hassle.  

“We need four people to staff the truck and I’ve been on it too as the fifth,” Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza Owner Tony Simone said. “I just rotate to give people a rest.”  

“You only need a couple of people on a food truck to get the food out efficiently,” Agatina Italian Eats added. “The restaurant depending on how many people you can serve you’d have to have eight waitresses, five cooks, dishwashers, bussers.”  

While Rochester’s Public Market consistently sees a packed attendance, participating food truck businesses have more to worry about. Due to limited storage space, owners must narrow their menu down to their best sellers.

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“We are known for Chicken French so we stick with what we are known for,” Fortano said. “Our calamari, our chicken French, Arohini, we go with the basics. The most popular items.”  

As the threat and burden of the delta variant still lingers, places like Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza cannot afford to open their main restaurant, so food trucks and street events have been their only lifeline. 

“Other nights we’ve done over 300 servings,” Simone said. “Tonight, we’re at like almost 200. So, it has been all right, but every little bit helps.”  

Owners are optimistic as food truck season ends. People who tried their best meals for the first time at events will become new clientele at their main restaurants.  

One obstacle business owners cannot get around however is inflation on prices of their inventory.

This was not the last food truck rodeo at Rochester’s Public Marker. The last one will take place Sept. 29th. 

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