Forget about limp hot dogs wrapped in foil under a heat lamp.

The gourmet food truck revolution of the last few years continues to grow and evolve across the country. What started with a celebrity chef's tweet in Los Angeles in 2009 has flourished into a thriving segment of the foodservice sector. Some food trucks have become so successful that their owners open brick-and-mortar locations, while established restaurants are putting trucks on the street to get in on the fun. Many cities have food truck parks and festivals that let the hungry hordes sample all kinds of cuisine in one spot. Some couples are even hiring food trucks to cater their wedding receptions.

“Food trucks are growing for lots of different reasons,” says Jill Silva, food writer of the Kansas City Star, where she started four-times-a-year food truck meetup that needed a common place. “The result is great for consumers, because there are so many good choices out there.”

'We Are Thriving'

From burgers and tacos to tapas and every ethnic cuisine, from ice cream to flan and every specialty and delicacy, food trucks are big  business in the United States. Many cities and regions have their own food truck associations. The Texas capital even has The Austin Food Park downtown, where “Each food trailer or food truck entrepreneur in the food park was carefully selected based upon their cooking skills, desires to be unique with food and their ability to serve you fresh food consistently.”

In Tennessee, the Nashville Food Truck Association is sponsoring its third-annual Street Food month this month, complete with opening remarks by the Music City Mayor.

“The word 'trend' isn't accurate,” says association president Dallas Shaw. “We are thriving.”



Food truck
Atlanta's award-winning Blaxican food truck serves up Mexican soul food.

How About a Taste of Blaxican?

Mobile Cuisine recently announced its choice for the country's top food truck: Blaxican, a mix of soul food and Mexican, in Atlanta. Will Turner started his business in 2010 and has quickly expanded, opening in suburban Alpharetta.

“I've been working really hard to build a business I can be proud of,” he says. “This award was kind of like my performance evaluation from my industry, so it felt really good.”

His specialties include collard green quesadillas, and mac and cheese with Mexican spices.

“You have to provide good food that people want – on a regular basis, at a good price, with good service,” he says. “People don't have time to sit and wait for really good food. They want fast-food time but gourmet quality food.”

In Portland, Ore., Jensen Yip and Kevin Scoffield have had similar success with 808 Grinds, featuring BBQ from their native Hawaii. “We've grown substantially with our Hawaii plate lunch – which includes a BBQ meat, Japanese steamed rice and Hawaiian macaroni salad,” Yip says.

“It's historical, back to the plantation days in Hawaii," he adds. "There were Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and others working in the fields, and most didn't speak a common language, but they shared lunch.”



Food Trucks
808 Grinds in Portland serves up Hawaiian BBQ and other tropical favorites.

'I Do, I Do'... Want Food Trucks at My Wedding'

Silva says food trucks have become a popular option for weddings and other celebrations, and not just in Kansas City.

Indeed, Phillymag.com shared 5 Philly Food Trucks Your Wedding Guests Will Go Crazy For. “Food trucks are a pretty fantastic accent to your big day,” the magazine says.

“Food trucks are also exploding onto the wedding scene for Summer 2015,” according to a rep from Vision DJs, which provides disc jockeys and lighting for weddings in South Florida. “They can offer up a variety of favorites to satisfy every taste during the reception; they can also deliver wedding cupcakes as departing favors.”

Having food trucks at such a big event might ruffle some traditionalist feathers. But it can also remove a load of tasks and worry by providing guests with lots of choices and a fun, edgy twist.

And some large employers, including The Coca-Cola Company, have turned to food trucks as a way to bring associates more choices for lunch. They were introduced last year as a temporary way to help at Coke HQ in Atlanta, when permanent foodservice was part of a larger renovation project.



Food truck
Food trucks line the outdoor courtyard at Coke's headquarters.

Among the choices was often Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen, named one of the country's healthiest foods trucks by Greatist.com.

And smart food-truck operators have been at the forefront of using GPS mobile technology to update social media users on their locations and offerings.

So, with savvy marketing of a wide range of good, healthy food – all brought to the consumer at work and at play – the food truck industry shows no sign of slowing down.

“They're about passion and really good cooking and relationships,” Silva observes. “That's why a lot of people continue to operate them – and more customers are realizing they don't have to go to a restaurant all the time.”