Until now, the food truck scene has been dominated by a group of independents; experts in selling a unique product via a mobile, and energy efficient, traveling kitchen. Recently, however, it seems as if some of the big names in the restaurant business are looking to drive-up branding opportunities using food trucks to spread the word about their restaurants and products, one block at a time.

New kids on the block

So, who are these new kids on the block? According to blog TO, some of the restaurants planning to hit the concrete running – or wheeling I should say – include Tim Hortons, Beaver Tails (whose trucks have, until now, been stationary), Boston Pizza, and Jack Astor’s, to name a few.

Jack Astor’s, in fact, is currently wrapping up a campaign that is bringing food trucks to cities around the GTA. Today is the last day of the campaign that included handing out complimentary “curbside creations” to hungry customers. These creations were samples taken from the new restaurant menu in the hopes of spreading the word among fans and acquire some new customers en route. Those wanting to sample the latest flavours from Jack’s kitchen can follow the food truck on Twitter at #JacksFoodTruck for an update of it’s current location.

Big brands may be just passing through

Making use of hash tags and Facebook pages, many restaurants see engaging with customers via social media as the new way of spreading the word, making promotions via mobile food trucks the next step in interactive marketing; bringing the online, offline. But that doesn’t mean that these big brands are permanent addition to the mobile foodservice scene. Or does it?

Many restaurants use food trucks as a one-off promotional tool for events or campaigns that have a beginning, and to the relief of many traditional food truck lovers, an end. Restaurants like Swiss Chalet for example, made use of food trucks for a 4-week stretch over the summer as they handed out free samples of their signature fries and dipping sauce.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Cynthia Pacheco, owner of Curbside Bliss Cupcakes (seasoned Toronto food truck owner) says despite the movement toward using food trucks as a marketing tool by big names in the foodservice industry, she’s not worried about the competition:  “You know that restaurant’s always there,” she said. “But is that food truck worth the search to find them?”

The answer is probably not but regardless, it looks like traditional food trucks owners won’t have much to worry about.  Larisa Martinez, Marketing Manager at Jack Astor’s, tells Toronto Life that despite the lineups, the restaurant has no plans to extend the use of the food truck beyond the life of the campaign.

Questions or comments about food trucks in Toronto? Leave them below!

image credit: the Tell-Tale Blogger