As if to prove the inevitable evolution of all things cool to pedestrian commercialism, the hipster trend of high-end food trucks is being invaded by cookie cutter chain names.

As the headline says, Applebees and Taco Bell are two big names cashing in on the roving restaurant trend. But there are also now trucks from Sizzler, Jack in the Box and Red Robin. If those big fish weren't enough to have you wondering if food trucks had jumped the shark, consider that NBC (yes, that NBC) recently had a food truck at SXSW and several U.S. cities have reported seeing a food truck selling Gap-branded tacos.

Some of the big chains see their trucks as supplementary to their brick and mortar stores, while others use their vittle-vans as mobile test kitchens. Sizzler, for example, uses an electronic menu on its truck because its offerings changed so frequently. Some items proved so popular that the steak chain incorporated them into their regular menu.

So is this the beginning of road-going restaurants? Or the beginning of the end for what was for a bit a fun little trend? Adweek's story points out that some people theorize that food trucks will become as ubiquitous as mobile phones. When first introduced, mobiles were novelties, but soon evolved to replace land lines.


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  • 69 Comments
      RustyShackelford
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't know if food trucks have jumped the shark, but I'll tell you this: The day you buy a Gap branded taco, YOU have jumped the shark.
      Stinkyboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      they should have vending machines on the street, like Tokyo.
      Rob Cook
      • 2 Years Ago
      "So is this the beginning of road-going restaurants? Or the beginning of the end for what was for a bit a fun little trend? Adweek's story points out that some people theorize that food trucks will become as ubiquitous as mobile phones. When first introduced, mobiles were novelties, but soon evolved to replace land lines." I remember back in '89-'91 or so that Taco Johns used to have a mobile restaurant that they would setup outside my high school at lunch. I think the corporate food truck is nothing new but now that it's cool (finally? again?) they are getting back on the bandwagon.
      bwhitedjr
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't think I would trust a corporate food truck. If an employee can step on food, or pee on it surrounded by co-workers and post it on youtube, I can only imagine what they would try driving a truck with a buddy that is like minded. Private food trucks are kept clean and are owner operated. This means anything that happens to their food or service directly effects their livelihood. Plus they usually use fresh groceries.
        dickn2000b
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bwhitedjr
        That's right. Independent food truck owners never have a bad day...Never have bug problems. Never have customers who piss them off...Never get mad enough to tamper with the food, step on the lettuce, spit on the bread or swat the bugs in the condiments. Yeah Right! Why do you think they're called ROACH COACHES??!!
        TexRob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bwhitedjr
        I agree, the owner run aspect is the main reason I think.
      michigan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thank you Auto blog for so kindly advertising fast food on your car site
      NightFlight
      • 2 Years Ago
      Taco Bell I can fully understand, and I'd likely get something from one. Applebee's? Shut the front door. Applebee's is the worst restaurant chain in America. Why in the hell would you ever WANT to eat at Applebee's?
        Gubbins
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NightFlight
        Agree on Applebee's...total crap...but Taco Bell? They're an insult to Mexican cuisine, packaging the same damn five ingredients in different shapes and sizes and coming up with more clever names to move them; "Taco Bel Grande"; "Gordita" etc. Garbage. No self-respecting Mexican would touch a Taco Bell with a barge pole.
          k_m94
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gubbins
          Please, Mexican? Taco Bell is about as Mexican as frozen pizza pops are Italian. If you want a quick cheap fill and prefer semi-solid goopy stuff in a tortilla instead of a thawed chunk of meat in a bun, then that's what you go to TB for. It's American fast food, nothing more.
          Jake
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gubbins
          Compares to Mexican food like McDonald's compares to a American steak joint, I suppose.
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gubbins
          I'm German, not Mexican. I don't love Taco Bell, but they are easily my favorite fast food chain. That isn't saying much though, because I eat fast food maybe twice a year.
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Imagine if there were food trucks that sold Real, Healthy food instead. That'd be the day. "Til then, we have Grease Trucks and now "Fast Food" trucks.
        waetherman
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        Depending on where you live, there are plenty of 'em. Food trucks have been trending much more healthy in the last few years, and a lot of them are doing local and organic foods instead of the usual greasy spoon fare. Even without that trend though, I think a good California-style taco truck is pretty healthy; some grilled chicken on a toasty corn tortilla, a little salsa with corn, a couple of pickled jalepenos, a dusting of queso fresco and a squirt of lime.. all pretty good stuff!
        Zoom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        We have plenty of natural-foods, veg-friendly food trucks here.
      sal
      • 2 Years Ago
      GREAT NOW THE KID'S WILL HAVE FOOD TRUCK'S TO BUY DRUG'S FROM THE KID'S DRIVING THE TRUCK'S .....GREAT IDEA...!!!!!
      Dark Gnat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hopefully the Taco Bell truck will be towing porta-johns.
      Phillip
      • 2 Years Ago
      Food truck? They call them Roach coaches.
      waetherman
      • 2 Years Ago
      I suppose it's no surprise - these companies will go where the money is. Unfortunately the low price of entry, which is what makes food trucks so appealing to the chefs who run the best food trucks, makes it very easy for the big companies to get in to that business, and they have the added benefit of advertising their company on the side of the van whether they make money on the truck or not. The worst aspect of this is that it will make it harder for independent chefs to get their own food truck and permit, and probably make it harder for them to find a place to sell as well.
      MAJikMARCer
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope these fail hard. For my faith in humanity they better. I like the small local food trucks. If they suck they fail. If the food is good they do well. But mega restaurant chains can afford to keep them going suck or not, just to push the local competition out of business.
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