During the COVID-19 statewide shutdown, local restaurants and eateries had to get creative to stay afloat. While dining rooms were closed and most people were following the stay-at-home order, local food trucks could be spotted rolling all over town. Since March, food truck businesses and restaurants with trucks at the ready have set up shop at local neighborhoods, parks and other spots around Baton Rouge—bringing back a food truck trend that had died down in the Capital Region.
The shutdown affected every business differently. While some eateries went mobile and popped up at popular hot spots around town, other businesses cut back their hours because they had a drastic drop in customers.
Now that restaurants and cafes are in Phase One of reopening, it poses a new question for the local food truck scene: Are local businesses going to continue using food trucks to reach customers, or will Phase One require another business pivot?
Louisiana Lemonade, a Baton Rouge food truck that specializes in fresh, squeezed lemonade and frozen lemonade drinks, served at the LSU Lakes during the shutdown when the weather allowed. But business hasn’t been booming.
“The virus cut business by 75 percent,” manager Khris Loyd says. “Our part-time workers aren’t working, and we’re exploring some other options for how we can get our lemonade out.”
Loyd says he plans to bring the truck out more sporadically since business has died down. He plans to start selling lemonade by the bottle and setting up lemonade stands at local BREC parks. The temporary truck hours will be from 3-6 p.m. on days the weather permits.
Louisiana Lemonade is one of the local food trucks allowed to pop up at BREC parks through the Parkside Pickup initiative, loosening restrictions on how food trucks can operate on its park grounds. Other businesses include Ninja Snowballs, Newk’s Eatery and Walk-Ons Sports Bistreaux & Bar.
Though Ninja Snowballs primarily gets business from events, the catering company has operated as a food truck and has been selling from the LSU Lakes since the shutdown. The company plans to continue rolling through local parks and neighborhoods until the trucks can be booked for events again.
For other local food trucks, production has also begun to slow. Newk’s Eatery plans to only serve areas and businesses upon request, and local alcoholic ice cream truck Spiked Scoops temporarily stopped serving until there is a higher demand.
The future of food trucks in Baton Rouge is uncertain. But businesses are staying optimistic and trying to create innovative ways to reach their customers during these uncharted times.