For more than a decade, the food truck industry has grown into a culinary staple throughout the United States, including the food scene here in Michiana.
During the spring, summer and fall, various food trucks serving a variety of delicious morsels from different ethnicities and genres line up at locations such as the outside The Morris Theatre in downtown South Bend or near Mishawaka’s Beutter Park.
But did you know you can rent food trucks for your business functions or events?
There are many benefits to hiring a food truck for an afternoon or evening, especially given the new safety requirements brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Trucks Better Enable Social Distancing
One of the biggest advantages of hiring a food truck is that it enables both the culinary workers and your employees/staff to stay six feet apart from one another.
“When social distancing, it’s really nice for us because, in a food truck, you’re definitely going to be far enough away from somebody,” said George Hawthorne, Director of Nutrition/Transportation at REAL Services Inc. REAL Services runs the REAL Grille Food Truck. “The closest you get is when you’re handing them their food but you’re in the truck and they’re down on the ground.
“For businesses, people can line up six feet apart to be able to keep a distance at all times. We always wear a mask in our operation as well.”
It also helps that, in general, food trucks operate outdoors, which provides open-air and extra space.
They Offer a Variety of Culinary Options
Unlike hosting your event at a traditional restaurant, where menus are generally fixed, many food trucks offer a variety of options and, at least in the case of the REAL Grille, are willing to adjust the items offered based on the preferences of a client.
“Some of the businesses in the area will ask us to come out, and they’ll say they want to have this or that on the truck,” Hawthorne said. “So we provide that. We have a lot of flexibility in our menu. It’s not set. We change our menu up quite often.”
The lone staple on the REAL Grille menu is a simple-yet-delicious grilled cheese sandwich, as well as a gourmet version. A few examples include a smoked gouda grilled cheese with basil and strawberries, or a grilled cheese made with artichokes and pepper jack.
“That’s actually a recipe inspired by a company out in Portland, Oregon,” Hawthorne said. “It’s called the Tin Roof restaurant. It’s such a fantastic item. We do a lot of our grilled cheese on sourdough bread. We’ll change the breads up for location as well, just do something a little different.”
The REAL Grille is available until mid-November 2020 for events. After that, the food truck will be back in service in the spring.
REAL Services’ Foray Into Food Truck Business
A few years ago, Hawthorne met with a class of undergraduate business students at the University of Notre Dame. He wanted to brainstorm ideas that he could implement in order to further fund Meals on Wheels in St. Joseph County, as well as the congregate meal site the organization manages.
One of the ideas was a food truck.
In 2018, REAL Services made that idea a reality with the REAL Grille.
In over two years of operation, every dollar of profit the food truck has generated has gone right back into Meals on Wheels or the congregate program. Those two programs combined feed thousands of people in Michiana on a consistent basis throughout the year.
When you hire REAL Grille for your business event, you’re not only offering your employees great food; you’re also supporting a vulnerable population of our community