Since the 1800s, food trucks – or wagons, back in the day – have maintained a place in our nation’s economy. But, in the past few years, that representation has grown steadily. In 2013, food truck sales represented 1% of sales in the U.S. restaurant industry across the board, and that economic impact is projected to quadruple to $2.7 billion by the end of 2016.
Locally in Lynchburg, food trucks are relatively new, but also extremely popular. As movements like Food Truck Thursdays, organized by The City of Lynchburg’s Parks and Recreation, and Lynchburg VA Eats events, take the city by storm, more locals are relying on trucks for a quick, convenient and delicious meal.
But, how does a food truck get started? And, how do they relate to local restaurants? In this two-part series, we will take a look at two local small businesses, which both currently own storefronts and food trucks.
Part 2: Auburnlea Farms Opens Storefront, Restaurant and Food Truck In Less Than A Year
In 2009, Rick and Becky Bennett moved to Gladys, Virginia to start Auburnlea Farms. They began by raising beef, pork and poultry, and sold their products on-site at the farm.
“We wanted to take it a step beyond organic,” said Becky Bennett. “All of our meat is grass-fed and raised in a clean and organic way without GMOs.”
In 2014, Rick and Becky decided to develop a storefront in Lynchburg, Virginia to make their products easier for customers to access.
“Lynchburg was the perfect spot for our business, because it is close to our farm as well as a wider network of farmers. Our customers come from Roanoke, Charlottesville, Norfolk and even North Carolina, so Lynchburg offered a central location.”
Shortly after the store’s launch, they opened a farm-to-table restaurant.
“Our vision for the restaurant was that it would be a tool to help educate our customers about what they can make with our produce and meats. From there, it took off and was a bigger hit than we ever anticipated.”
Based on the café’s quick success, the restaurant’s chef, Jon Gonzalez, and his wife, Jessica, launched the Uprooted food truck. Featuring the same farm-to-table dishes as the restaurant, the food truck lets customers enjoy healthy, delicious meals on-the-go.
Just like Sean and Anne adapted their initial vision for Canopy and started a storefront as a result of that success, Rick and Becky’s initial business strategy has also evolved. By listening to their customers, both businesses have been able to expand and grow in innovative ways over the past year alone.
Interested in starting a business? The next CO.STARTERS nine-week entrepreneur training starts on March 8th.