Updated: Food truck leaders create coalition, more street food expected in Chattanooga soon

Authored By Chloé Morrison

Chattanooga’s street food scene is growing and organizing-more food trucks are expected to hit the city soon, and those that already exist have created a coalition.

“It’s all very new,” Nathan Flynt, owner of Famous Nater’s food truck, said. “So there isn’t really a set schedule of when we get together, but we are getting together regularly … to kind of get a group consensus of how things are going and to form a groove.”

Street food statistics 

-According to FastCasual.com, even though some people predicted that the food truck trend would be short-lived, the scene has been growing since 2008. 

-Six out of 10 consumers (59 percent) said in 2011 they would visit a food truck if their favorite restaurant offered one. That is up from 47 percent in 2010. 

Flynt said the operators of the street food trucks in town are becoming “fast friends,” but the coalition, called the Chattanooga Street Food Project, is more of a formal business group.

It’s the strength-in-numbers idea, he said.

“If we can all pool our resources, this can get better a little quicker,” he said.

There are four food trucks in Chattanooga-Famous Nater’s, Southern Burger Company, A Taste of Argentina and Taco Sherpa.

This time last year, there were only two.

But other street food vendors, such as Monkey Town Donut Company and The Chattanooga Cookie Company, have also joined in the movement.

And, although Flynt said he couldn’t provide details, he said more food trucks are coming to Chattanooga soon.

As for the coalition, Flynt said it’s still forming, but they do plan on having guidelines about who can join, such as insisting that potential members have good health scores.

Click here to view the coalition’s website. The website offers maps of dining locations and profiles on each Chattanooga Street Food Project vendor.

“We are excited to have this large of a food truck scene in Chattanooga,” said Lindsay Nash, marketing coordinator for the newly formed coalition. “Where else in the city can you get such a wide variety of quality food featuring local farms and products? And, if you work downtown, all you have to do is walk out of your building’s front door, and you’re there.”

Street Food Thursdays
Leaders with each of the city’s main food trucks have said in the past that they work together at times to decide a location to set up.

And River City Company has created Fresh on Fridays, which has become a big day for the food truck operators.

They have also been coming to Warehouse Row for Street Food Tuesdays. But, next week, it will become Street Food Thursdays.

“The street food coalition came together, and Thursday just works out to be a much better day for us,” owner of Southern Burger Company Christian Siler said.

The food truck operators gear up throughout the week because their biggest business comes in on the weekends. 

And so, for some, Monday is a day off. But that was hard to do if they had to prepare for Street Food Tuesdays, Kelly Scott, who oversees retail space in Warehouse Row, said.

So, Warehouse Row leaders agreed to change the event to Street Food Thursdays.

Warehouse Row leaders will be at the Thursday events to help promote the other businesses in the space, which has recently come back to life.

They will offer half-off coupons for portions of a food truck meal, and owners of other Warehouse Row businesses will be offering specials during Street Food Thursdays.

“I do think that the more people that come to Warehouse Row, the more opportunities there are for everyone to get benefits,” she said.

New location, other news
The Chattanooga food truck scene is also visible at Nightfall, the Chattanooga Market, the parking lot of the Majestic 12 and more.

Now, the Chattanooga Street Food Project is adding a North Shore location to allow people north of the river to take advantage of Chattanooga’s growing food truck scene, according to Nash. From noon until 5 p.m. on Saturdays, local food trucks will be parked in front of Renaissance Park.

Nash also said that the food trucks will be in this location, and possibly in the Majestic 12 parking lot, during Riverbend.