New York City food trucks struggle for business in winter

food truck winter new york city
Food trucks like Phil’s Truck struggle to get customers in the winter months.
Credit: Miles Dixon/Metro

With little relief from snow and freezing temperatures this winter, many New Yorkers have preferred to order lunch rather than brave the cold for a bite to eat. For the city’s many food trucks, winter means fewer customers and more reasons to look forward to spring. We spoke with food truck owners and workers about dodging potholes, shoveling snow and wearing extra layers to keep warm.

The Treats Truck
What you’ll get: Sparkly, flower-shaped sugar cookies and an array of other desserts that’ll brighten any dark winter day.
“I have a small shop in Carroll Gardens and one truck, so it’s big deal when my truck doesn’t run,” said Kim Ima, owner of The Treats Truck. Ima’s truck was out of commission for several days after hitting a pothole — more common in winter months. As far as keeping warm, “I wear three pairs of socks and lots of layers,” Ima said. “But I don’t mind selling in the cold.”

Luke’s Lobster (a.k.a. “Nauti” Mobile)
What you’ll get: The popular lobster roll is good year-round, but on a cold day, try a lobster grilled cheese and a clam chowder soup.

“There will be piles of snow on the side of the road, so we’ll have to shovel through that and it’s tough because it’s iced over,” said Josh Freeman of Luke’s Lobster. “We try to cover up the windows as much as possible and work off the grill heat [to keep warm].”

Big D’s Grub Truck
What you’ll get: Asian-inspired tacos, sandwiches and rice platters. You’ll also find tasty side dishes such as pork and chive dumplings and yuca fries.

“We have a lot of loyal followers who will still come out when it’s a little cold out,” said manager Danny Chin. Still, this winter has been tougher than last year because of all the snow. “We weren’t able to go out on some days and we had fewer customers on the colder days,” Chin said.

Phil’s Steaks
What you’ll get: A variety of hot-off-the grill Philly cheesesteaks. Go during breakfast to get your favorite sandwiches with eggs or on a platter with a side of hash browns.

“We have two trucks, and we actually took one of them off the road this winter,” said J.J. Jenson, co-owner of Phil’s Steaks. The company plans to re-launch their second truck in April, when the city thaws. “Business is very weather-dependent,” Jenson said. “Obviously, people don’t want to be standing and waiting for food in the snow.”

Gorilla Cheese NYC
What you’ll get: Warm up with a classic grilled cheese or try one of their specialties, like the smoked gouda with BBQ pulled pork on wheat bread.

“The weather has a pretty big impact on whether we do business or how well we do, whether it be rain, snow or cold,” said Stephan Meyer of Gorilla Cheese. “There are some days we don’t take the truck out because it’s just not safe to drive.”

Find the trucks and follow them on Twitter:

The Treats Truck makes stops in Midtown, the Upper West Side and Chelsea. Follow @TheTreatsTruck.

Luke’s Lobster can be found in Midtown near Grand Central Station on weekdays, or in Soho or the Upper West Side on weekends. Follow @NautiMobile.

Big D’s Grub Truck travels all over Manhattan. Follow @bigdsgrub.

Phil’s Steaks travels all over Manhattan. Follow @PhilsSteaks.

Gorilla Cheese NYC is usually in Midtown between 46th and 50th Streets. Follow @gcnyc1.



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