RADISH—The Farmer's Food Truck
RADISH, a food truck serving locally grown and organic menu items, was created to promote healthy eating and creativity in Providence, Rhode Island. The food truck was the brainchild of a few passionate students at Johnson & Wales University, the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. The students were looking to put their exciting and progressive ideas to good use. In addition to offering organic, farm-fresh food, the RADISH team promotes artists, musicians, cooks and adventurers every month via its truck and website.
After winning the grand prize in the Johnson & Wales Shark Tank Competition (modeled after the ABC television series), CEO and 2011 JWU graduate Tim Silva and his team used the social networking website known as Kickstarter to fund their mobile restaurant. Kickstarter is an entrepreneurial social media outlet that serves as a funding platform for creative projects. Through Kickstarter, cutting-edge ideas are brought to life as people all over the world donate money to support the development of innovative products and services. Since its launch, Kickstarter supporters have brought to life more than 30,000 creative projects in the fields of music, art, technology, film, gaming and food services. To date, monetary support of Kickstarter projects totals over $350 million, with pledges from more than 2.5 million individuals.
By April 5, 2012, RADISH had received financial support from 95 supporters. With pledges totaling nearly $10,000, the RADISH team had reached its Kickstarter goal. The team used some of the cash to refurbish a truck to comply with health code requirements and other state regulations, while the remaining funds went toward a commercial hood system, a flat top grill, plumbing and wiring costs, a commercial refrigerator and decorating materials.
According to a recent Forbes article, the cost of starting a food truck business can range from $50,000 to $200,000, with $60,000 being the expected cost of a reasonably priced and reliable truck. An additional $10,000 is needed to cover start-up costs including fuel, maintenance, permits, kitchen equipment purchases or rentals, food supplies, insurance, advertising dollars and employee expenses.
The costs of a food truck are far lower than those of a traditional restaurant with a physical space in one location. Start-up costs for a traditional restaurant typically range from $100,000 to $300,000, depending on its size and location. Both the mobile food truck and the fixed location restaurant have a niche in the food service industry, and each caters to the unique needs of its respective clientele. In fact, many restaurateurs in Providence now have both a fixed location restaurant and a mobile food truck.
The founders of RADISH wanted their truck to be a hub for artists, musicians and adventurers in their community. Imagine a mobile gallery space that also serves delicious, feel-good food you can eat with your hands. Shortly after winning the competition, the RADISH team conducted a guerilla marketing campaign by posting black and red stickers all over Providence; the stickers featured an image of a radish and the slogan: “RADISH - the farmer’s food truck.” They also created “Where is Radish?” accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and even posted pictures of future menu items on Pinterest.
To learn more about RADISH, visit http://whereisradish.com/.
by DOUGLAS D. STUCHEL | ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE CENTER FOR FOOD & BEVERAGE MANAGEMENT IN THE HOSPITALITY COLLEGE
AT JOHNSON & WALES UNIVERSITY