Roanoke is now home to two food trucks, which peddle their very different types of foods in parking lots and on city streets. But they share the same marketing plan-using Facebook and Twitter to let customers know where they are.
Juan Urrea started his business selling tacos and crepes out of the “Noke Truck” about a month ago. Originally from Colombia, he and his wife have lived in Roanoke for about six years. She had a business where she baked cakes but Juan says, “Last year the economy was so slow, and we were thinking after the Latino Festival . . . and, we decided to start a food truck.”
They hired someone to do their marketing plan and said the biggest draw by far is coming from social media. “We have people following us from Blacksburg, from D. C., from different places we can’t even imagine.” They check in using Four Square to let customers know where they are. He plans to expand the business to Salem and Vinton in the near future.
Eric Devinney from Roanoke stopped at the Noke Truck as it was parked on Crystal Spring Avenue. He spotted it as he was driving through the neighborhood.
“Food trucks are a big craze everywhere else and I travel quite a bit, so it’s nice to see them here in Roanoke.” He’s seen similar trucks in New York, Washington, D. C., San Diego and San Francisco. Devinney thinks there’s room for several such trucks in Roanoke, which is a good thing because about a week after Urrea started his business, the Landing Restaurant at Smith Mountain Lake started “Bruno’s Gastro Truck.”
Business co-owner Tiffany Silva says the restaurant is very much a season-driven business with great employees. “We want to be able to keep them throughout the season but throughout the winter as well, and adding another stream of business was a way to do that.”
The Gastro truck travels to Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Blacksburg, selling food such as “Drunken Chicken,” “Lobster Crab Fritters,” “Gooey Nuts,” and other global carb cuisine. Co-owner Bruno Silva hopes to sell caviar soon.
The Silvas hope to add more employees as the business grows. She says they started planning for the new business in September, bought the truck in November and had it built out, then took delivery in mid-February.
“Everybody’s catching on. It’s completely driven based on social media. We’ve been fortunate that people have been coming over and looking at us on Facebook; going to Twitter (and) following us. We’ve seen the numbers jump.”
Meridium employee Bill James ordered a Miyagi dog when the Gastro Truck pulled into their parking lot. He’s not sure if there should be more of these types of trucks in Roanoke, though. “Sometimes you go downtown and it’s not really busy enough to warrant another. It’s real convenient (though). I get to eat at my desk and continue to work through the day.” He’s afraid a truck like this would take business away from the already established eateries.
The owners of both businesses say the price of gasoline for their trucks will increase their overhead, but they’re hopeful more people stopping by their respective trucks will help them meet the added burden.