Episode 110 – Featuring A Look At the Mobile Food Industry

Eats, Treats, and Sweets on the Street?……Neat! – A Look At the Burgeoning Mobile Food Industry, and What it Means For the “Traditional” Restaurant Business

“What’s for dinner?”

It’s an inevitable question that many adults and college students, many of whom may not have the time, the means (or let’s face it, the ability) to cook for themselves, find themselves asking once late afternoon rolls around.

But it can also be one of the hardest questions to answer.    Do you go with the usual takeout or delivery options, the “been there/done that” of fast foods and chain restaurants, or that favorite local place of yours that may have started to run its course?

In recent years, aspiring entrepreneurs have set out on a journey to redefine the experience of “eating out”, simply by hitting the road….literally.

The mobile food industry has taken off in past years, thanks in large part to changing tastes in the marketplace, as well as a tacit collective desire to turn the nature of competition upside down, in order to work together to create a unique, grass roots experience for its customer base.  Many of these food trucks and carts, instead of butting heads to ensure that individual trucks attract as many customers as possible, will instead seek to complement each others’ strengths, as well as those of the traditional brick and mortar establishments.  Patrons of a coffee shop that doesn’t have its own kitchen can look no further than the truck that is parked 50 feet away for the food to go with their beverage.

These ventures, operating separately from the challenges and opportunities facing traditional restaurants, have attracted a new breed of entrepreneur.  These are folks for whom social media mastery and relationship building are MUSTS.   For the former, using Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter (among other social media sites) to get the word out about where you are right now, and where you will be tomorrow, as well as to foster the word-of-mouth “micro-viral” buzz to drive your customer base is essential.  And for the latter, many trucks, especially in the food realm, are required by the laws of the cities in which to set up shop to own their own (or associate with another) established brick-and-mortar location in which their food is to be stored.

But the goodwill and freedom that an entrepreneur earns in taking his or her venture to the streets can make the hurdle-jumping worth the while.

On this edition of “The Raja Show”, Raja examines the burgeoning mobile food industry in Western Pennsylvania, as he talks with a pair of entrepreneurs, James Rich of PGH Taco Truck, and Mike Baughman of Rolling Cones, about their respective ventures..  They’ll discuss how their ideas came to be, how they got their ideas (ahem) rolling, how they get the word out, the legal challenges and ordinances that stand in their way, and how they plan to grow their ventures.

It will no doubt be a discussion that will pique your entrepreneurial spirit, if not your appetite, and one that you won’t want to miss.

Plus, we’ll feature some of the recent highlights from The American Entrepreneur Expo, held in June of 2015 at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.  This celebration of entrepreneurship featured a special look back at the life and legacy of “The American Entrepreneur” Ron Morris, including reflections from Ron’s radio listeners, students from his time as Founding Director of the Entrepreneurial Studies Program at Duquesne University, his wife, Karen Rak Morris, and his children, Jaxon and Lexi Morris.