Monday, November 21, 2011

Mobile eatery craze hits San Marcos

Several different mobile food vendors rolled into San Marcos earlier this month to establish The Hitch. Each trailer serves a different type of food, including hotdogs, Mediterranean pitas and locally made cupcakes.

A recent lift of a law banning food trailers in San Marcos has attracted food vendors from all over Central Texas. According to Jacob Booth, a manager at St. Pita’s, The Hitch was inspired by the mobile eatery trend in Austin.

“We’re just bringing a fad to San Marcos that has been very successful in Austin. There is over 2000 food trailers in Austin, so obviously it’s doing really well there,” said Booth.

The vendors have mixed feelings regarding the length of their stay in San Marcos.

“This is semi-permanent. I don’t know what the future holds, but we’re not going anywhere right now,” said Brian Kneese, owner of Say Cheese Pizza.

“Since opening shop at The Hitch we have seen such great success that we closed our shop in Wimberley to devote more time to this food trailer,” said Erin Bird, employee at How Sweet It Is-Cupcakes.

Other vendors like Bobby Hotdogs hope that their food trailer is just a gateway to a more permanent establishment.

“My boss hopes that in two years he will be able to open his own restaurant,” said Aric Whittaker, employee at Bobby Hotdogs.

Stan Helsley said part of what makes The Hitch a unique dining experience is the relaxed outdoor environment where him and friends can come eat.

The Hitch's close proximity to local businesses and the pet friendly atmosphere also attracts customers.

Muhammad Weusi owner of Str8 Training said he walks to The Hitch at least three times a week to eat at his favorite trailer St. Pita’s.

“The fact that I can bring my dog to The Hitch and enjoy this awesome weather makes it more appealing than other types of restaurants,” said Emily Devine, Hitch customer.

Gary Champayne, owner of Smokin’ Ace’s Bar-B-Que said that running an outdoor business also has its cons.

“In the summer it’s real nice, people like to be outside and near the river. When it’s raining and there is bad weather, that’s going to keep people from coming out,” said Champayne.

Another obstacle these vendors must overcome is how to get the word out about their new businesses.

According to Bird, social media websites have played a key role in advertising for The Hitch.

Not only does The Hitch itself have its own Facebook and Twitter account, each vendor has access to promote their business as individuals.

“In addition to Facebook and Twitter we put print ads in Bobcat Fans magazine and post flyers around town,” said Kneese.

Whittaker said they rely mostly on social networks to promote their specials and hours of operation. Bobby Hotdogs and all of the other vendors encourage customers to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.