Keep truckin’: Food trucks fueling Metro Detroit

By Allen Jordan

Lunchtime in downtown Detroit during January is usually filled with local workers headed out of the office looking to enjoy good food in a warm and seated atmosphere.

Food truck vendors are a popular trend in other major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland and even as far as South Korea, giving hungry individuals the option for quality food with an outdoor experience. According to The trend is making its way to Detroit.


Markets on the go

Last year, the Royal Oak Farmers Market hosted its first food truck rally, bringing a crowd of over 3,000 people. Once a month they hold the event, showcasing a variety of Metro Detroit’s dining options on the go according to

The Eastern Market in downtown Detroit on the weekend also serves as a display for the outdoor business, giving shoppers access to fresh produce and hot food.

“I felt I wanted to share my recipe for my sauce with the world, so instead of having one location, we can bring it to anyone, everywhere,” said Joe Sciamanna, owner of Dag’o Joes, describing his decision to forgo opening a neutral site.


Worldly food trucks

The Italian-based company offers  options ranging from hot dogs, to its signature Italian Meatball Sandwich, which is based on a family recipe.

Beignets French Donuts and Coffee, a Michigan-based company started by co-owner Michele Pearson, caters to customers with sweet tooths by bringing the New Orleans coffee shop favorite home to share with fellow Detroiters.

Beignets, a French doughnut similar to  fritter, are made from fried dough and topped with powdered sugar and are a regular in coffee shops in New Orleans.

“With every trip I took to New Orleans and visiting coffee shops, I fell in love with them,” Pearson said. “The vibe and atmosphere made me feel like this was something needed to bring home and introduce.”

Even though the independent business venture proves popular among foodies, its biggest competition comes in the form of local ordinances placing limitations on the aspiring business owners.

“I believe it’s more about the dining experience that people will remember,” said American Coney Island Manager Dan Keros, supporting the idea of the traditional dining experience.

“With an event like the Auto Show in town you want to expose the best Detroit has to offer, bringing attention to staples in the community will bring them back. Who knows if they will remember something they got from a truck that’s here one day and gone the next,” Keros said.


Getting started

Local ordinances make it difficult for truck owners to get started. Vendors need to obtain a Certified Food Protection Manager Identification from the DC Department of Health that is required to be present during all times of operation.

Once the food process has been determined and approved, vendors can begin to design the truck. Owners need to determine what type and size of grill, refrigerator, hood suppression system, deep fryer and other equipment must be on board.

The only restrictions involve the size of the truck, with the maximum dimensions being 18.5 feet long, 10.5 feet tall and eight feet wide.

All new vendors must complete the vending application provided and submit to the division.

The person who will operate the truck must apply for a Roadway Class A License. With licenses only issued to individuals and not businesses, the truck must be operated by the individual who is issued the license.

El Guapo, a black truck serving fresh Mexican fare like cilantro jalapeño lemonade, pork belly confit and fish tacos, became the first to obtain one locally with others looking to follow.

This food truck was the first licensed and accepted food truck in the City of Detroit’s history, according to

“New tastes are always good for the stomach, as long as they can offer some of my favorite types of food it’s all that matters,” Brandon Anderson of Detroit said in support of the competition among local owners and fresh face entrepreneurs.

For more information on local food trucks, visit and


Contact Staff Reporter Allen Jordan via email [email protected]