Why are there so many food trucks in Sioux Falls? It’s a hungry market

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It’s just an empty bread truck, but Marcela Salas has a vision.

Salas is the co-owner of Salas Salsas, teaming up with his mother, Patricia Burbine, to bring a variety of salsas, authentic Mexican take-out, enchiladas, tamales and other meals to the Sioux Falls area.

The two started selling in a pop-up shop at the Brandon Farmers Market last year, and although they have continued to sell in the market and online, Salas hopes to refurbish a bread truck she bought in late 2020 in a mobile operation.

It’s the next step in the 28-year-old’s dream of owning and operating a restaurant with her mother, and she isn’t the only one.

Sioux Falls only had five mobile foodservice vendors in 2008 – mostly concession stands for festivals and fairs. Street food trucks, roaming the city and informing customers of their whereabouts via social media, only made an entry into Sioux Falls in 2011.

A decade later, Sioux Falls now has over 35 food trucks in the city and region of Sioux Falls. Only ten were added last year.

Food trucks are becoming a more attractive entry point for entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. And Sioux Falls’ appetite for food trucks is only growing.

“We could get a business loan, but we saw a lot of restaurants closed last year,” Salas said. “A food truck is a safer option during this time, so we don’t go into something that might go wrong and put us in debt. We don’t want to jump into a physical location just yet if we can’t. as we want. “

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Shona Randle started Randle’s Kitchen in 2013 with her ex-husband, joining the “second wave” of food trucks.

People didn’t know what the food trucks were in Sioux Falls – the closest things they knew were the concession stands at festivals or the run down food trucks that served shoddy lunches and were nicknamed ” cockroach coaches, ”Randle said.

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That stereotype has since changed, with food trucks becoming a popular lunch stop for residents of Sioux Falls. As the number of food trucks has grown, companies have invited food trucks to serve in their parking lots during lunchtime, and some food trucks have thousands of dedicated followers on their social media pages.

Randle restarted the food truck this year after a three-year hiatus and is energized by the reception it has already received.

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“Having a food truck gets your name out there and meets people where they are rather than trying to get people into brick and mortar,” Randle said. “We were one of the few when we started.”

Randle also hopes to own her own restaurant once she establishes Randle’s Kitchen as a Sioux Falls staple, a common dream among food truck entrepreneurs and something some entrepreneurs have already accomplished.

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Look’s Marketplace was one of the first traveling food trucks in 2011, then opened a restaurant in 2019. Kabab King’s Mohomad Fares is opening a restaurant in the former East 10th Street Taco John’s building this spring. Inkka Beaudion of Swamp Daddy’s and Lisa Esser of Papa Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza both dined a few years after also running their own food trucks.

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Esser and her husband, both of whom had worked in the restaurant industry for years, originally wanted a restaurant, but after her sister died and took care of six children in total, they needed something more flexible and manageable than a full restaurant staff. .

Come in, food trucks.

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“We wanted a flexible schedule, and the big dream at the end of the day was to try and build something my sister would be proud of that would also help support her children,” Esser said. The couple were able to buy their food truck and pay it off in a year.

But this type of lifestyle also had shortcomings, she said.

“The problem is, we live in South Dakota. You have a good seven months a year,” she said. “We learned very quickly to save the summer to live through the winter.

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As Papa Woody’s became a food truck, it was difficult to grow and add staff as it had irregular hours for dining events and street side roaming. At the end of their first year, Esser said the majority of their business was catering, which made it difficult for them to grow because people weren’t able to eat the food in a reliable place before they booked them.

“Something had to change,” she said. “We either needed a permanent location or more food trucks. It has become a necessity so that we can support this growth.

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Papa Woody’s moved into the Jones421 building on Phillips Avenue and has had constant traffic ever since, even with the pandemic. The Jones421 building was the perfect swap because it was a small space with a small amount of capital initially needed to get started – essentially like a slightly larger food truck but in a permanent location, Esser said.

Esser still uses the food truck for catering, but her focus is on the restaurant.

Salas plans to roll out her food truck this summer after she and her mom finish renovating it together. His mother cleans houses full time and Salas is a pharmacy technician at Walgreens as well as a commercial pilot. She obtained her cooking diploma in Omaha before following her mother to Sioux Falls.

She has acquired a passion for cooking from her mother and grandmother and believes their meals have an authentic taste of home. She and her family moved from Mexico to the United States after her biological father moved in the early 2000s. After her father left the photo, they were homeless for a while and her mother began to cleaning houses to support her children.

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“Growing up in an environment like this and seeing my mom suffer like she did motivates me to change,” said Salas. “If we had stayed in Mexico things would have been very different, so I feel like I have to take these opportunities to establish myself and my mother as businesswomen that we are and can. to be.”

Salas Salsas will join a host of entrepreneurs serving everything from Mediterranean dishes to American classics, desserts, pizza and more – many of them are successful in the growing Sioux Falls market.

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“Most of the food trucks you see are phenomenal entrepreneurs and cooks who branch out to do their own thing,” Esser said. “The people who run food trucks, they are hardcore. They work hard, know what they are doing and are excited to share their cooking skills with others. This is one of the best foods you will ever find. no matter where. “

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