Jaideep Sidhu proudly displays his loyalty card for Bento Bus, one of a few food trucks parked in the courtyard of Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters on a recent sunny day.   

Between bites of curried goat from One Love Jerk Grill parked nearby, Sidhu, a senior information coordinator in Coke's global scientific and regulatory group, says he frequents the food trucks two or three times a week.

“Food is a good conversation starter,” he says. “It’s easy to strike up a conversation in line, see things other people have and try them out.”

While food trucks are not a new trend, at Coca-Cola headquarters they were introduced six months ago out of necessity when the campus cafeteria was set to be closed for construction. John Sadlo, manager of workplace solution design & delivery, needed an interim dining solution. Last summer, they began to explore options.

“We thought, 'How do we feed people on campus without a cafeteria?' 'What are the alternatives?'” he recalls.



Food Trucks at Coca-Cola

Sadlo is seated in a conference room tucked away in the Two Coke Plaza building where the Workplace Services team is hard at work keeping Coca-Cola’s downtown Atlanta campus up and running. The team is tasked with managing the workplace environment: from the electricity that powers the lights and air conditioning system, to fitness services.

By the summer of 2015, several new dining venues will be up and running at Coke. In the meantime, a small fleet of food trucks serve an average of 300 lunches per day, offering a variety of cuisine, from Jamaican to Vietnamese to fish and chips.

While the food trucks are a popular alternative to the roughly 2,000 lunches sold in grab-and-go stations on Coke's campus, they’ve not come without challenges. 

“We’ve heard comments from people about the price of meals,” says Dawn Hall owner of Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen and coordinator for the food truck program at Coca-Cola. “But the prices are the same you’d pay off campus.”

Hall started Happy Belly two-and-a-half years ago with the goal of offering all-natural and wholesome, but convenient, meals. Happy Belly has been widely recognized in Atlanta and was named one of the country's healthiest foods trucks by Greatist.com

Hall’s company, Fork in the Road, is a hospitality and food truck event planning business. She’s also operates as the ultimate puzzle master, working to coordinate schedules for the variety of food trucks on campus on any given day. There are currently 17 food trucks in the rotation with most making an appearance once a week, determined in large part by popularity and pre-existing truck schedules.

Hall has two Happy Belly food trucks which alternate corporate campuses during by day and community events through entities like the Atlanta Street Food Coalition by night.

“Atlanta is not like Austin or Portland or other places,” says Hall, dispelling one of the common misperceptions about food trucks. “You can’t just pull up somewhere and start serving food.”



Food Trucks at Coca-Cola

Georgia law requires food vending permits and fees be paid to operate, along with health permits tied to kitchens, which must be separate facilities from the trucks for preparation and storage of food items.

Loading and unloading of the trucks, the cost of truck maintenance, travel time and occasional issues with power generators (needed to refrigerate food) are just a few of the challenges food truck owners face.

“Operating a food truck is hard work,” says Hall. “It can be a real headache and a logistical nightmare.”

But it’s obvious by the enthusiasm in Hall’s voice she passionate about the work. Speaking on behalf of the food truck owners and operators who make Coke’s campus part of their weekly routine she says, “We love coming out here.”

“We’ve developed a lot of fans and even know people by name,” she adds. “It’s been great to build those relationships.”

With the arrival of fall and cooler temperatures Hall urges associates to keep the food trucks in mind as an option, especially as the team works to spice things up and add even more trucks to the mix.

“Get outside, get a breath of fresh air, take a breather and enjoy the fresh food and variety!"