Indy's street eats: Food trucks drive change from conventional dining

By Jimmy Feichtner

What moves on wheels, satisfies hunger and has been rising in popularity in Indy since 2010?

Food trucks, and for the past few years they have been making quite a scene here.

Since the Super Bowl came to town back in 2012, food trucks have become more abundant. With only a few trucks starting out, Indianapolis has become a hot spot for food truckers.

“The Super Bowl was obviously a big contributor,” said Ryan Krcmarich, owner of Tacos Without Borders.

One of the events going on over the past few months has been the First Friday Food Truck event. The event takes place on Georgia Street on the first Friday of every month. Multiple vendors flock to the locations to feed dozens of hungry Hoosiers with various styles of food. From barbeque to burritos, the variety of food gives locals a great opportunity to try an array of foods.

“They’re looking for something different and food trucks are able to offer that. We’re all different and I think it’s a great use of Georgia Street,” said Bryan Monroe of Der Pretzel Wagen.

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Photograph provided by Around Indy.

“I like [First Friday] because it’s actually drawing people to that part of town, and it’s good for food truck exposure in general. It attracts a lot of people especially from the downtown area. It kind of puts Indianapolis in a good light,” said Fred Pyle of Ahh Burritos

Much of the growth in food truck popularity is due to the Super Bowl. The event showed that food trucks could really thrive in Indy’s urban setting. Before the Super Bowl the First Friday events were not as big as the most recent ones.

“Those First Friday’s, there were about 12 of us and then once the Super Bowl started there were 32 trucks who first starting during the Super Bowl,” said Ryan Krcmarich.

Krcmarich, who considers himself a veteran food trucker of the new generation of trucks, attributes the growth in numbers due to Indy’s lenient restrictions.

“Indianapolis has been very receptive to the food trucks and they have gone out of our way to promote the food trucks,” said Krcmarich. “They haven’t made a lot of cumbersome regulations.”

But why is it that so many food trucks are starting up as opposed to restaurants?

“First, with food trucks, is the cost saving. It’s not having the overhead for a restaurant,” said Immanuel Ivey, co-owner of Hoosier Fat Daddy Bus Café.

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Photograph provided by Around Indy.

It is also less expensive to get started in the food truck business than compared to starting up a restaurant.

“The main reason people get involved with food trucks is the low barrier of entry. You can buy a truck and get out on the road,” said Krcmarich.

Another benefit is that food trucks come to the people. The ability to be mobile allows the vendors to go to where the crowd is. People do not have to commute to the restaurant and leave their location.

“The good thing about a food truck is that you can go where the people are. A traditional restaurant, they have to come to you and sometimes when you build it they don’t come,” said Pyle.

“We can go to the customer rather than the customer go to us,” said Ivey.

Aside from the Super Bowl contributing to the rise in food trucks is the amount of conventions held in Indianapolis. 2014 Winner of Best Convention Cities by USA Today Readers and 10Best, Indianapolis draws in thousands of people from all over the country. Many trucks will set up at the downtown convention center for events like Gen Con, which is one of the largest conventions in the Midwest.

“There are constantly huge conferences coming in and out of town,” said Krcmarich.

With so many food trucks popping up, one would think there would be some rivalry between the veteran vendors and the newbies, especially at events like First Friday. But some vendors say that is not the case.

“The competition actually builds the culture. It kind of keeps everybody innovative and striving for that next step. I have a feeling that over the next few years it’s going to grow even more with Indianapolis constantly expanding and getting more events,” said Pyle.

“It makes us [food trucks] more of a part of Indianapolis,” said Ivey.

For more information on the First Friday event on Georgia Street and other food truck events visit Around Indy