4 Things We’re Doing as as Food Truck to Serve People Safely

There’s no right answer of what to do. Do we continue to serve people, attempting to protect the livelihood of our staff and ourselves knowing that we could be asymptomatic and spreading the virus? Do we shut down, breaking our promise to our people to keep them gainfully employed while suspending our own paycheck and putting our own home and family in danger?

Luckily, we have this choice to make as a food truck. Many restaurants don’t. Dining rooms are closed and half of our industry is out of work. Who knows how many will reopen, when that will ever happen, when people will feel comfortable going out again, or what any of us are going to do in the mean time. Who knows what our industry and the concept of hospitality even looks like on the other side of this thing?

There might be a rescue package coming to act as a life preserver so we don’t drown, but things will never be the same. There’s no un-sinking the boat.

Starting a food truck business has been the most challenging thing my partners and I have ever done. We have had to pivot on so many things, adapt to so many different situations, and bend almost to the point of breaking on an annual basis. Adapting to this situation has been a familiar form of torture. Ok, we’re changing everything up again, how do we adapt?

If we are able to serve the public, legally and with good conscience, we must adapt our service structure to minimize contact between our staff and the public.

The first thing we are doing is monitoring ourselves. Taking our temperature and making sure our staff is clear on the fact that they must not come to work if they feel ill at all.

On the food side, not much is changing. We are washing our hands between tasks as always, and on a timer, as well as sanitizing any regularly used surfaces. We’re serving everything in to-go containers and had to re-arrange the workflow on the truck. At the commissary we’re practicing the same procedures. In both places we’re minimizing contact between employees and maintaining social distancing suggestions.

On the service side we have:

  • converted all service to drive thru and walk-up to-go
  • begun a cashless system of taking payments
  • begun to minimize contact between the public and the staff
  • encouraged online ordering

Converting all service to drive-thru and to-go means maintaining social distancing between the truck for service and the drive-thru portal. Our chalkboard menu is set up and we take orders from guests as they drive up. We tally the order on our iPad POS and ask the guest if they would like to pay with Apple Pay or a card. If they have Apple Pay we use the contact-less reader to scan the phone. If they have a card we ask them to either swipe or insert and remove it themselves to minimize contact.

In lieu of a physical tip jar, we have set up a virtual Venmo tip-jar for guests to tip our staff. We also feel as providers that this is a good time to institute a 15% service charge on our orders to make sure our staff can pay their bills.

We’ve also started to take online pre-orders and encourage people to order exclusively that way. In that case, they would drive up and their order would be ready and paid for and they would simply pick it up. We are also asking guests if they would like our staff to hand them their order or for us to put it in their passenger seat.

This new hospitality must prioritize safety and making guests feel safe. We’ve also got to keep our workforce safe in order to continue to serve our guests. We must go out of our way to make sure our guests not only have a good experience, but feel safe coming to see us. We MUST take every precaution possible and show our guests their health is the priority.

There’s no navigating this thing the correct way. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I’ve changed my mind 100 times on it already. All we can do is try our best to keep our guests safe, to keep our people employed, to do what we do best, to serve people.

Written by

Chef/Pitmaster from Austin, Texas

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