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Top Food Trucks to start or rebrand your existing truck to in 2016:

by 29. February 2016 10:17

Last year, we wrote about the top ten food trucks poised for breakout success in the Tampa Bay area, and we have seen some progress on that list! The food truck scene has become livelier and more diversified, giving fans more choices in their mobile cuisine selections. Due to their success, we wanted to revisit the types of food trucks the Bay Area scene could still use:


·      French Fry Truck or Potato Truck

·      Nacho Truck

·      Tapas Truck

·      Chili Truck (This one’s on the way - be sure to check out Crack Chili, coming soon!)

·      Bagel Truck

·      Chinese Truck

·      English/Irish Food Truck (we suggest these two together - you can fight amongst yourselves to determine which country's cuisine is better :-) )

·      Biscuit Truck

·      Ramen Truck

·      Mexican Truck (i.e. tacos, taquitos and tostadas)


If none of the options above appeal to you, the sky's the limit in terms of creativity! However in your planning, it is equally as important to draw your attention to the types of trucks that are currently competing the market. We want to help your truck become a contributing partner in the growth of the food truck scene here in Tampa, and poised for success. The following food truck concepts will be met with stiff competition:


·      Cheesesteak Truck/Menu Item … please, no more!

·      Middle Eastern Cuisine

·      Crepes

·      Grilled Cheese

·      Asian Fusion


There are many places people can go to get average food, and Tampa Bay’s food trucks are not one of them! The trucks we work with are a collection of eateries featuring family-favorite recipes and superior street food. Whatever truck you are looking to start, ensure it reflects your passion and that you are able to provide a superior product.  This is a recipe for success and will ensure you stand out in the crowd.

Spotlight On: Nico's Arepas Grill

by 21. January 2016 20:05

Nico’s Arepas Grill is the creation of owner Adrian Castillo, originally from Venezuela, who comes from a family of successful food truck owners and restaurateurs with establishments in Orlando. Adrian worked in his family’s restaurants just long enough to learn the business, and decide this was the industry for him.

La Catira - Shredded Chicken and Gouda Cheese

Upon founding the Nico’s Arepas Grill food truck 3 and a half years ago, he did so with great confidence, and an even greater end goal in mind. When asked how he got from mobile truck to a brick and mortar, Adrian stated very matter of fact: “I always knew I was going to have a restaurant.” His determination and ability to succeed in both the mobile and traditional food arenas are resoundingly clear when asked about the expectations for his business. More specifically, how did he get from food truck into a restaurant by the same name? Adrian cites two keys to his success: hard work and a unique product. He says the truck and restaurant have always been hard work, and that he has not shied away from putting in long hours 7 days a week to grow his business.  

He also attributes the great success of his truck to the unique offering of the traditional Venezuelan dish: arepas. He emphasized “there’s nothing like Nico’s in Tampa.” To newcomers, he describes his specialty as a cornmeal patty they lay on a grill until it cooks, then stuff with what’s on the menu for the day. It can be compared to a warm pita bread sandwich. Adrian says despite this different item, it has been very well received. The Nico’s Chicken Special has been a best seller, which is shredded chicken, chicken salad and white cheese stuffed inside the warm cornmeal arepa.

To see Nico’s truck at a rally is a bit like seeing a party on wheels. Customers are immediately struck by the truck’s music and lively environment. The truck exudes a fun, happy vibe, which has likely hooked the curiosity of many who may not have originally known what an arepa was.

Want to try an arepa out for yourself? Check out our weekly schedules to see where Nico's will be next! 

Social Media for Food Trucks: Part V

by 14. January 2016 05:47

Hi Food Truckers! Welcome to Part V of our Social Media for Food Trucks series. Today we're focusing on Instaram!

Instagram is a visual, photo-based social media platform that you can only post to by using the app on your smart device. Each user posts one photo at a time with the option to include a caption and hashtags (more on this in a moment!), and these photos make up their “gallery." Much like Facebook, the idea as a business is to showcase what you do in the most appealing way possible, while attracting followers.

So step one is to make sure your photos are attractive!! Insta users love beautiful, well lit, well composed photographs. For best results, take photos in natural light (not directly sunlight- it’s too harsh.)

“Tagging” other people in your posts varies by platform. We went over how to tag a business in a Facebook post in series III, whereas Instagram is slightly more complicated. There are multiple ways to tag your photo using Instagram:

1) You can tag your photo by adding a location as mentioned in series 3. This is called a “geo tag” where you are “tagging” the geographical location you’re currently at. In most cases, you will need to have location services enabled for the app you are using before your phone will allow you to do this. (Check the settings on your device.)

2) You can tag another Instagram user in the photo itself by clicking “tag photo” and searching by username (ex. @tbftr.) Depending on how the account is set up, this will enable the photo to appear under the “Photos of You” section on the profile of the user you tagged. This should be used when you are actually displaying another user in a photo, or are participating in an event with them.

3) You can tag within the text of your caption in two ways: a) using a username (@tbftr) or b) by using a hashtag (#tbftr.)

The @ symbol before a username should be used to communicate one on one with people, as it creates a notification to that user letting them know someone is speaking to them. For example, Dochos Concession may post a photo captioned: “Great event with @tbftr tonight!” and we would respond “@dochosconcession Your amazing food made the evening!” If we just responded “Your amazing food made the evening!” without the “@dochosconcession” tag, they may not notice that we responded. So tagging when you answer is key.

Contrastingly, hashtags should be used to tag your photo as part of a larger conversation. For example, you may post a photo of your broken fridge with a caption like: “Oh no! Our refrigeration system failed last night…looks like we’ll be starting over today. #caseofthemondays” The use of this #caseofthemondays hashtag will “tag” your post along with all other posts where someone used the same hashtag to show your photo as being a part of the same “conversation” about Monday bummers. This is also where using tags such as #foodtrucks #tampa, etc. are beneficial and can help you reach people who may be looking at photos tagged #tampa, but were not previously fans of your truck. There is a bit of an art to finding hashtags that both apply, and work for your truck. Try a few out and see what kind of response you get!

If you decide to use a hashtag specific to your truck, choose one hashtag for your truck and use it consistently. (For example, always stick with #cajuninatruck and do not switch between tags such as #inatruck.) Cajun in a Truck is a great example of a truck who does this correctly and uses Instagram very effectively! You can check their Instagram page for ideas on how to post: (Note: to post photos to Instagram you cannot use the website, you have to use the app on your smart device.)

Encourage your customers to tag you in their photos on all platforms as well, and monitor the content. This is a great way to observe your business from the eyes of the public and watch for how your food is being served, received, the general customer experience, and anything that you are doing well, or that could be improved.

Have any questions? Is there an area we failed to cover? Let us know, and we would be happy to help you all market as effectively as possible. This isn't goodbye, as we'll be sharing more tips and tricks shortly. 

Social Media for Food Trucks: Part IV

by 6. January 2016 06:23

Hey Food Truckers! Moving onto part IV of our series, this week's social media for food trucks post is pretty straightforward; we're talking about adding events to your Facebook page that have been created by other organizations. 

  • Publicize what events you will be present at! You always have the option to create a new event on your truck’s page, but if you happen to know the event is preexisting (being hosted by TBFTR or another venue) you can add the already created event to your Facebook page by clicking on the event itself, then clicking the 3 dots in the upper right next to “Invite” and click “Add to Page.”

Add event to page on Facebook 

Select your page from the drop down menu, and then click “Add Event”

How to Add Event to Your Page on Facebook

This will add the event to your page’s list of upcoming calendar of events for everyone to see.

  • We also strongly encourage you to like and comment on TBFTR’s posts for events you will be attending, especially with descriptions or pictures of food items you will be offering! It’s a great way to get attendees excited about the food that will be on site, and gives them an idea of exactly what they can expect.

Social Media for Food Trucks: Part III

by 30. December 2015 06:16

Hello Food Truckers! Welcome to series III of V of our social media for food trucks series. Today we're covering how to tag your business and others on Facebook! Note, that we'll cover Instagram in greater detail in part V.

Check in at locations to let your fans know where you are in real time. Tagging your geographical location on your Facebook and Instagram posts will increase the reach of your posts, to people who may not even be looking for food trucks, but are perusing the photos geo-tagged at places such as USF, International Plaza, Tampa International, etc. This is a great way to expand your fan base, while also communicating where you are.

Tag Tampa Bay Food Trucks!!!! By tagging us in your posts, you open up your content to our followers as well as your own, and increase your post’s reach. This will also prioritize your post in Facebook’s algorithm among fans who follow both pages (aka serious food truck fans!)

Note the difference in reach between these two posts below, one in which we tagged the participating trucks in our schedule (December 11th), and another in which we did not (December 12th.)

Food Truck Not Tagged Yet 


In this example, tagging the participating food trucks increased our reach by 4 times! To tag us within your posts, begin typing Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally, and our page’s name will automatically populate at the bottom of your post. In some cases, the name of the page you are trying to tag will not populate. If this happens, you will need to publish your post (it will look like the post on December 12th, with no page names highlighted in blue) then go back in and edit and begin typing the name of our page again. See below, where I reopened the post from December 12th to edit and began typing “In” and the In the Middle page populated. Click on this page (highlighted in blue) to tag it in your post.

Food Truck Being Tagged on Facebook

Note you can usually only tag pages you have previously liked, and will need to type the name of the page exactly as it appears in order to tag it.

For example see below, where “Mmmm Delicious” was mistyped and yet we still managed to tag their page when it populated. Be sure to double check and delete any unnecessary text that may be present in your post after tagging.

Tagging Food Trucks on Facebook


Please let us know if you have any questions, and be sure check back with us next week, where we'll cover adding events to your Facebook page in part IV!

Social Media for Food Trucks: Part II

by 24. December 2015 04:18

Hey Food Truckers! Welcome to part II of V in our "Social Media for Food Trucks" series. This week we're focusing on tips and tricks to keep in mind when posting on social media.

  • Post your schedule, locations and any specials daily.  Be consistent with your content – decide on a “voice” to use on social, and your gallery of photos should all look like snapshots of the same ongoing story. This helps your followers get a feel for your brand.

  • When you post a menu, we encourage you to post descriptions but not prices. Especially early in the process of getting your truck set up, if you haven't yet figured out what the pricing really needs to be. We suggest this since you may post a menu with your pricing in a daily post now, and in 6 months a user who dug through your timeline can comment on it and it will begin to repopulate in your followers news feeds due to “new” activity on this post, even though in reality it is 6 months old. This makes the post look like new, relevant information when in fact it is old and outdated.

  • Link your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, FourSquare, etc. accounts. By linking your accounts, any schedule posts you publish to Facebook will automatically post to your Twitter account, which saves you time. This is also a great way to publish posts longer than 140 characters to Twitter – your fans can begin to read your content and will be redirected to your Facebook page if they would like to see the full post.

  • Social media engagement is markedly higher on posts that contain images as opposed to just text. Post on Instagram and link your account to Facebook and Twitter so you can share your photos to all 3 platforms with one click. Foodies and food truck fans LOVE food pics, so share those amazing photos and include a little information on what it is, ingredients, flavor, etc.

  • Find ways to engage your customers in a way that makes sense for your brand! Use questions, polls, contests, photos, hashtags etc. Let people know how they can tag you by selecting a hashtag specific to your truck. For example “We’d love to see your favorite food truck meal this week! Share your photos and tag us at #tbftr.”

  • Use social media as a two-way street for customer service. Most customers expect a response when they reach out to companies using social channels. Respond to both positive and negative feedback in a timely and professional manner. In public messages, don’t forget to tag the person/page you are responding to so they receive a notification that you have answered! (We will go over tagging users more in series III and IV.) You do not need to “tag” users in private messages, as they will receive a notification automatically.

Please let us know if you have any questions, and check back with us next week for part III: tagging and adding events on Facebook.