(Memphis) The food truck craze has hit hungry customers across the country and here in the MidSouth.
Some say it’s a win, win. Food trucks are cheaper for owners to operate. Plus, they deliver fresh food in a quick and convenient way.
However, if you’ve ever dined on a meal prepared on wheels, did you consider safety? How do you know the truck is even licensed?
The On Your Side Investigators talked to the experts to find out.
Gelato, barbeque bologna and burgers are just a few of the items patrons will find on menus at the weekly food truck rodeo at Shelby Farms.
Mark Hamilton’s specialty is cheese steaks. He runs Mark’s Grill Food Truck. Hamilton told us, “I actually bring my rolls in directly from Philadelphia.”
He was a computer programmer before retiring and building his dream.
“I started right at the beginning of the food truck craze here in Memphis and built this truck, custom truck all by myself here in Memphis and started going out about a year ago and a half ago and we’ve been all over the city and it’s been very popular,” Hamilton says.
So popular, applications for food truck permits have more than doubled, according to Memphis-Shelby Co. Health Department Environmental Sanitation Assistant Manager Otho Sawyer.
“Within a year it went to like a hundred and in the last month, we’ve permitted 18 or 19, so it’s gone fairly quickly,” Sawyer explains.
Like traditional restaurants, food trucks get the same inspections from the health department.
Customers should look for one form, called a Local Mobile Food Service Permit, along with another from the state and an inspection report.
Hamilton says he keeps his on the front windshield.
Jeanette and Emilio Debartolo are from Chicago and had never eaten at a food truck before visiting Memphis.
They say safety is important, but it’s more about quality food and convenience.
“You’re getting that inside the restaurant experience from just standing in line, it’s kind of a nice mix between the both of them,” says Jeanette.
Find out where your favorite food truck is parking by following them on social media. The Memphis Food Truckers Alliance is also on Twitter.
You can find inspection reports here.