CHICO — Hungry customers love it because it’s easy to find, fast, and relatively cheap. Owners prefer to operate these properties because they are easy to move around and cheap to rent.
Of course, they’re mobile food units — sometimes called “taco trucks,” but there’s no limit to what they can offer. increase.
Jose Quintero, who owns Tacos Super Tonaya with his wife Ana, has been living in the same location at 1456 Mangrove Ave. since June 24, 2014. There is plenty of room for their truck and his table with four chairs.
Jose Quintero speaks primarily Spanish and has asked his son Sergio to act as spokesman. Sergio Quintero said he and his two brothers and his two sisters work in the unit with his parents. Completely family run. He said there are advantages to his family owning a mobile food unit.
“We don’t have to pay for electricity,” said Sergio Quintero. “If you’re lucky, you can find a spot outside the store and get to know the owner. There’s no extra charge.”
This is in contrast to what “brick and mortar” restaurant operators face. On-site insurance, utility bills, maintenance, and more. Additionally, the stationary restaurant has many tables plus plates, utensils, large refrigerators, and more. “Taco trucks” typically serve food on disposable plates with plastic utensils and paper napkins.
The shortcomings are considerable. First and foremost is the fact that the truck is a restaurant and if the truck breaks down it will be difficult to operate. The Quinteros unit was built in his 1982 and the family has maintained it properly, keeping it attractive and clean inside and out, but like any vehicle it needs care.
“Motors, transmissions, smog checks, oil changes… all these things have to be done,” said Quintero. And when the unit fails? “It happened to us before,” he said.
Quintero also said the weather could make the track uncomfortable.
“The heat in the summer can get pretty bad,” he said. “It’s not bad when it’s raining, but when it’s cold, you’re still outside. Also, customers can’t wait outside for a long time. They get impatient.”
Quintero also said many customers appreciate the convenience of having their food readily available and ready to eat. However, some people think the speed of service should be like a fast food restaurant where food is waiting and ready to be served quickly.
“We cook everything, but some expect it to be much faster than in restaurants,” he said. “We try to run fast. Sometimes it takes a little longer.”
Quintero says that perhaps the hardest part of the business is that when the family goes on vacation, the business shuts down, leaving no revenue.
Boris Breckinridge runs Mockingbyrd Coffee Co. in a restored 1960s travel trailer. Unlike the Quinteros establishment, Breckinridge moves his units daily. This is a big advantage for business, he said.
“Every day is a different landscape,” explained Breckinridge, who transplanted with his wife Rory from the Bay Area. “We are the only place where we set up shop at the farmers market and pay the rent.
“We support other Chico businesses, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Mockingbyrd has all the facilities required by California health regulations. These include triple-basin sinks, hand-washing sinks, and special cooling and storage units.
Breckinridge said his store is intentionally small. This is in contrast to Dutch Brothers, which is a large outlet that values speed over things.”
“I don’t want to stimulate people with caffeine,” he said. “People consciously choose to look for me. I offer products beyond fixed facilities.”
Mockingbyrd’s trailer isn’t big enough for many people to fit inside, but Breckinridge said he likes working without employees. “We spend money on products, not on rent or employees,” he said. “Failure and success are in your own hands.”
He agreed with Quinteros’ assertion that vacations can be tough. “I hate being inconsistent.”
Elaine McSpadden, director of environmental health at the Butte County Public Health Department, said standards for mobile food and beverage units are much the same as for brick-and-mortar stores, but there are structural requirements. There are some differences based on
“It’s the same California Retail Food Code, with different sections within the code,” McSpadden explains. “Hot and cold temperatures, cooking temperatures, hand-washing” — she said they’re the same as fixed restaurants. . For example, carrying away wastewater is just a matter of sending something down the drain of a stationary facility, whereas the code requires special tanks for mobile units.
For mobile units, McSpadden said, “food safety is at the same risk, albeit on a smaller scale.” “It depends on the food served, the equipment and the type of food.
“They[mobile unit operators]definitely have their own set of challenges. I don’t know if it’s cleaner or dirtier than a fixed location,” he said. I need it,” she said.