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Chicken and Waffles: The Rise of the Food Truck

December 2nd, 2011 by flanews

Frustrated with the job hunt, and the lack of career opportunities, more Floridians are opening their own businesses. The fastest growing startup businesses in Florida are food trucks. As Whitney Ray tells us, the industry grew by 10 percent last year.

Red velvet waffles and fried chicken are a winning combination for these FAMU graduates turned entrepreneurs. But this is no ordinary kitchen and they aren’t ordinary cooks.

“I have a degree in public relations and a masters in marketing,” said Kianta Key.

“I’m in the Army so after I graduated I went to engineering school,” said Jonathan Sellers.

The idea for the Cravings Food truck was born at the height of the recession after Kianta Key and Jonathan Sellers finished their degrees and were job hunting.

“I graduated in 2009, it was kind of like the zenith of the recession,” said Key.

“Sometimes the most innovative ideas come up when there are no options left,” said Sellers.

They scraped together money Jonathan saved for a house and raided Kianta’s graduate school fund. And now 15 months into their business venture, they’ve created a band of loyal followers. This crowd gathered long before they opened the serving window on the truck.”

Cravings is just one of a growing number of food truck businesses in Florida. There are about 3-thousand statewide, up 10 percent from a year ago. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is tracking the surge in licensing applications.

“Although we want these businesses to develop we want to make sure they play by the rules and know the rules,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson.

Business has grown so much that, next Friday, food trucks from around the state will drive to Tallahassee to participate in Florida’s first ever Mobile Food Vendor Fair. Mobile food vendors now make up six percent of all the Food Service Licenses issued by DBPR. The department is required to check the safety and sanitation of the trucks before issuing their owner a license.

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