Some of Penn’s MBA/JD students are teaching a group of community members what it takes to make it in the food truck business.
On Nov. 15, seven MBA/JD students held a workshop at the Law School to help people who either have an interest in launching food trucks or have already started a food truck business of their own. The students are currently exploring different opportunities for a follow-up session in the near future.
Second-year MBA/JD student Lauren Foote began organizing the workshop last summer as part of Penn Law’s outreach and pro-bono program to serve the community.
“Because we are joint-degree students, we did more business and legal focus rather than exclusively legal focus for this workshop,” Foote said. “So we decided to look at an area that was in our community and in our backyard where we could mix business and legal aspects.”
The seminar, which was attended by a dozen food truck operators and interested people from the Philadelphia area, covered various business development considerations — including how to choose products for a food truck and how to market those products.
It also discussed details on financing and legal issues, such as legislation that regulates food truck standards.
Foote added that the best part about the workshop was having panelists from the local food truck industry there to provide commentary based on their personal experiences.
“We think that [the food truck business] is both unique to Philadelphia and a very important part of Philadelphia and especially the University City culture,” Foote said. “It is also an area that is growing and developing.”
Andrew Gerson, who is planning on starting his Italian food truck under the title “Strada Pasta” in early February, enjoyed the seminar.
“It was basic, which was good for a lot of the audience who were interested in forming a truck or for the people from [government and city] organizations who didn’t understand the process of forming a truck,” Gerson said.
Nathan Winkler-Rhoades, who currently runs a food truck called “Pitruco” — which serves pizza — near Drexel University with two partners, agreed.
“I thought the workshop was useful, but I would find it especially useful if I were a new truck owner, or somebody who was interested in running a food truck in the near future,” Winkler-Rhoades said. “The workshop did a really good job of taking everything you need to know” to start the business.
Gerson recently organized an association of Philadelphia-based food truck vendors, called the Philadelphia Food Truck Association. The group will hold its inaugural meeting Monday night in Center City.
He wants the association to serve as a forum where food truck owners can discuss with government officials the legislative and licensing challenges facing them today.
“[I hope] that they can go back to their offices and maybe help making legislative changes, or at least create awareness of the food truck business,” he said.