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Food Truck Nation

With their clever dishes and savvy social media, food trucks have emerged as important vehicles for economic opportunity and growth jump-starting a $2 billion-plus industry in cities across America.

a man holding two bowls of food

America’s modern founding as a food truck nation began in 2008 with the late-night cravings of a couple of Los Angeles-based entrepreneurs for Korean-style meat in Mexican tacos. Kogi Korean BBQ would soon gross $2 million in sales in its first year.

Mobile vending has been a part of the American culinary landscape for well over a century—"lunch wagons," or "taco trucks," took off after World War II as they followed the growth of suburbs to places where restaurants were rare.

But Kogi’s early successes spawned gourmet imitators of an altogether different breed.

a map of the united states of america with food trucks and other foods

Food Truck Nation is a comprehensive study conducted on local food truck regulations, providing useful information and national benchmarking for public and private sector leaders to understand and improve their local business environments for this dynamic sector of the economy.

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The Rise of a Food Truck Nation

Food trucks continue to be vehicles for entrepreneurial opportunity and economic growth. The industry is estimated to have reached $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017. Though this figure is still a small portion of the nearly $799 billion in expected restaurant sales for 2017, the estimate represents a sizable increase from its $650 million in revenue from just a few years prior and relative nonexistence in 2008.

  • 300+
    U.S. cities with active food trucks
  • 300%
    revenue increase in past 3 years
  • $2.7 billion
    in revenue in 2017

The Life and Time of a Food Truck Owner

Regulations govern every phase of a food truck's life, from startup to operation and compliance. On average, starting and maintaining a food truck for one year requires an entrepreneur complete 45 separate government-mandated procedures over the course of 37 business days, and spend $28,276 on permits, licenses, and ongoing legal compliance.

  • 45
    annual regulatory procedures
  • 37
    business days dealing with regulations
  • $28,276
    spent on regulatory fees

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