Many food truck owners now run cloud kitchens

Many food truck owners now run cloud kitchens

The vehicles are modified into stationary kitchens, or parked for business in mall basements and at private events

The pandemic has transformed the food truck business: the vehicles have almost disappeared from the streets, and have taken on new avatars.

The Spitfire Barbecue Truck, serving BBQ dishes, was one of the first food trucks to gain in popularity in Bengaluru.

Owner Siddhanth Sawkar has started a cloud kitchen using the popular items they served on the along, along with newer items.

They work only on a pre-order basis where customers can place the orders on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The orders are dispatched on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Based in Yelahanka New Town, The Spitfire Barbecue Truck is one among the three other food companies under the parent company Spitfire Foodworks. “We made the change because food trucks became a hassle to take care of,” he says. 

Similarly, Square Ruth is also a cloud kitchen now. Owner Umesh Chandran explains, “We now deliver our food through Swiggy and Zomato. The business has definitely taken a hit but we are holding up okay.” 

He has a franchise in Manipal which is not doing so well as the college crowd is no longer around. “Food trucking is tiresome. The uncertainty of knowing how long you will have space and where you will be tomorrow prompted me to try a different business model. The cloud kitchen gives you peace of mind,” he says. Square Ruth is located near ESI Hospital in Indiranagar.  

The Swat Truck has also become a cloud kitchen. “We are looking at branching out to other cities and opening franchises,” says co-owner Jimson Johns.

Malls and events

Some food trucks are operating out of malls private backyards now. Started in 2015, Great Indian Bhukkad has a cloud kitchen and a food truck. Owner Suraj Agarwal says, “Since the lockdown, we have taken up private catering and delivery through food aggregators.” 

Earlier, the truck was usually seen near schools and corporate offices. Now, on weekends, it is parked at malls, inside apartment blocks, and in private areas (on request).

“We do more private events now, so the business is doing all right,” he says.

‘Street vendors, food trucks same under law’

The Bangalore Food Trucks Association (BFTA) is a registered body, and is seeking legislative help from the government. 

Varun Sequeira, core member of BFTA and owner of Michael’s Ice Cream Burger, whose items are now available at supermarkets, says the biggest problem is that the law makes no distinction between street vendors and food trucks.

“We have to get a food safety certification and a licence to sell, and we collect GST. We are regarded as street vendors, which is not the right category,” he says.

Food trucks aren’t legal in India like in other countries, and given how bad the employment rates are right now, legalising them can help provide jobs, he observes.

Food truckers adhere to standards and the quality of food is high. It’s because of the few food streets in Bengaluru that truckers are able to venture out, he says. 

“Sahakar Nagar and HSR Layout are the prime spots. Anywhere else in the city you want to park, you need special permission from the local authorities, and sometimes that becomes a problem,” Sequiera adds.