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Food trucks find a home

Mobile diners often stop at local businesses after the annual Saturday night food truck gala

Posted: May 12, 2014 1:42 p.m.
Updated: May 12, 2014 1:42 p.m.

Families enjoy their dinner from the food trucks.

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Taking advantage of the growing food truck industry, Tiffany Ramos opened her own mobile food business and has organized a weekly gathering of other food trucks in Santa Clarita every Saturday evening.

Her lifelong passion for baking was first inspired by her grandmother, but her skills were later honed in classes that Ramos took at Clarice’s Cake and Candy Supplies store in Newhall.

After first sharing her designer creations with co-workers, demand for Ramos’s cakes began to explode.

Over time Ramos developed designer cupcakes but became frustrated that the local market may be oversaturated by the number of brick and mortar cupcake stores.

“My husband said, ‘why don’t you just start a truck,’” Ramos said.

And so she did – paying cash for an old-fashioned ice cream cake to keep the cupcakes chilled so the icings wouldn’t melt on warm days.

The Cupcake Truck by TiffyLee Cakes launched in November 2013, and Ramos found herself frequently stopping off at popular food truck destinations in the Los Angeles area, specifically Studio City near the film and TV studios.

While working in the area, Ramos found a lot of local SCV residents who worked in the Studio City area, she said. And they wanted to see more food truck venues locally.

“But Santa Clarita doesn’t have the same kind of public streets like Studio City,” she said. “I thought I’m going to start one in Santa Clarita. I looked for the right space for quite a while.”

Not only did Ramos find a location, she’s attracted a number of other food trucks to the area adding to a growing local mobile food market.

But all is not rosy for the owners of California mobile food trucks.

Industry

The multi-million industry generated revenues at an annualized rate of 12.4 percent over the best five years, making it the best performing segment in the broader food-services sector, according to industry analysts at IBIS World.

The experts theorized that while people were more cautious with their money during recession, they would spend money for “affordable gourmet food” often sold by food trucks.

It is estimated that are 3,900 food trucks employing some 14,424 people in the industry.  In 2014, however, the industry is expected to grow at a slower rate of 4.4 percent to reach nearly $804 million in revenue, according to IBIS.

Ramos said it took “forever and was a huge headache” to get approvals from the Los Angeles County Health Dept.

And in the case of master plan cities – where does one go to set up shop?

Analysts say that industry associations will need to work closely with city governments and other restaurateurs to address issues like regulations, increased competition and low profit margins if food trucks begin to play a larger role in the food-services business market and the sales taxes they generate.

Recently, however, the California Board of Equalization did take a step to simplify the taxable sales collected from the food trucks.

The BOE voted in March to change the tax calculation process for food trucks by presuming that the taxable sales for the food sold is a included in the list price of each food item.

“The new policy takes effect July 1,” said a spokesman with the BOE.

Ramos, however, isn’t waiting for everything to be sorted out.


Saturday nights

Securing permission from the property owners, Ramos said she began setting up every Saturday night in a parking lot across from the Wal-Mart on Carl Boyer Driver in Santa Clarita.

“I became friends with a lot of different food truck owners,” Ramos said. “The trucks really love Santa Clarita and the people. They say it’s a good change of pace from the San Fernando Valley and that there’s a great atmosphere here. I have emails and calls every week begging me to get a spot.”

To keep a good mix of food, snacks and sweets, Ramos solicits feedback from her Facebook and Twitter followers as to what kind of food they want to see in the SCV.

Then she limits the trucks to only eight to 10 per week – enough food varieties to generate interest with the foodies, but not so much that the food truck owners aren’t making money, Ramos said.

Each truck has their own insurance and all are required to provide their certificate of insurance listing the lot owner as an additional insured, Ramos said.

As for costs, some lots charge as much as $50 per truck and there might be as many as 40 trucks there, Ramos said.

“You work hard for your money. I work hard for my money. That’s like stealing to take their money,” she said.

As for the expenses that Ramos incurs for the tables and chairs that she provides, she charges only a minimal amount spreading the costs out among all the food truck owners.

“On good Saturday nights people go straight from us to the local businesses,” Ramos said.

jana@signalscv.com
661-287-5599

Comments

lars1: Posted: May 12, 2014 4:01 p.m.

I hope these food trucks have a santa clarita business license.
the city wants their cut of the cupcakes.


lars2: Posted: May 13, 2014 10:48 p.m.

lars1, you continue to show your ignorance every day. Santa Clarita does not do business licensing for trucks. The County does.


lars1: Posted: May 13, 2014 7:55 a.m.

http://scvnews.com/2012/07/20/county-changing-health-permit-fees-for-tattoo-parlors-food-trucks/


lars2: Posted: May 14, 2014 10:30 p.m.

Nice article. You proved my point. County runs the food truck permits. You're boring me. Please mindlessly ramble about something else you hate about the City.


lars1: Posted: May 14, 2014 3:33 p.m.

I don't hate the city.
I do not approve of the city becoming a "for profit" organization, with the profits distributed among the city employees.

all the city sponsored events impose fees on the vendors and sometimes participants. sometimes it also includes a "cut" of the action.
the same approach is used by local landlords for restaurants in santa clarita. that is why there aren't many good places to eat here.

http://arts.santa-clarita.com/files/2013/02/CITP-Food-Vendor-Application-14.pdf

http://www.santaclaritastreetfair.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/SCV-Street-Fair-Vendor-Application-Packet.pdf

http://greensantaclarita.com/files/2012/10/EAD14-Food-Vendor-Application.pdf

http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/scveducationfoundation/pages/26/attachments/original/1375151334/L_A_Festival_Application_2013.pdf

http://scmarathon.org/home/


lars2: Posted: May 14, 2014 8:57 p.m.

I guess you could see it that way. Instead of seeing it as a "for profit" organization, think of it as a fully cost recovered program. It costs money to have a program such as those you cited. Looks like you are paying for the staff time, equipment etc. The other choice is to fully burden the general budget of the city and have everyone pay for those events, or have businesses run them instead and that way the profits go to them and not the "city employees." Hard to argue with a philosophy of wanting to recover costs for public events, especially with a standard of consistently balanced budgets. I'm sure other cities would love to see that.


lars1: Posted: May 15, 2014 11:55 a.m.

the approach by the city is all wrong. Rather than being used as a money making event, there should be more work towards getting local businesses as sponsors. the city has created a void by taking away the local billboards.
Fill that void.

There is a very small number of sponsors(2 to 3) for events in santa clarita. Look at other cities in the area. Concerts in Woodland Hills have dozens of sponsors (advertisers) for their events. Make some flyers for the concerts with the sponsors listed. Events in Palmdale and Lancaster also have many sponsors. The recent poppy festival had at least 50 sponsors.

if you are a small business, the city of santa clarita is very difficult to deal with. the city should start loosing the attitude, and working with more small business. charging a small business a lot of upfront money and a "cut" of the action does not hold the "most business friendly city in la county" slogan.


lars1: Posted: May 15, 2014 12:04 p.m.

I forgot to mention one thing that happened at a central park concert last year. a small business was so desperate for advertising that they put flyers under the windshield of almost every car parked there.

the city should do a better job of getting companies like that one to be sponsors with advertising. charging 2 or 3 companies thousands of dollars is not as good as charging dozens of companies a hundred.

time to do this is NOW!


cj64: Posted: May 22, 2014 10:36 a.m.

lars2, I don't think what you say is true:
'Santa Clarita does not do business licensing for trucks...
County runs the food truck permits'

If the city has no say in the permit process, then the Food Trucks can just show up anywhere they want.
A prime spot would be at Concerts in the Park in Central Park.

Would that be fair to the businesses that paid thousands to get to sell their food there?


projalice11: Posted: May 22, 2014 12:45 p.m.

YEA FOR TIFFANY RAMOS



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