PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Restaurants have been scaling back services since social distancing guidelines were issued last month, but the current crisis may have opened the door for another segment of the food service industry.
Food trucks have grown more popular in recent years, but operators are facing a new challenge: how to serve customers and keep business flowing during a global pandemic.
“It’s a challenge that gets thrown at us, and we have to change up with that challenge,” said Mike Lovrekovic, owner of The Prime Rib Guy Food Truck. “If we’re going to be able to keep people fed, and give them what they want, we have to change with it.”
Lovrekovic and his daughter serve up an Angus beef dish every thirty seconds to a loyal following,
but now must adapt to current conditions.
“As the game changes, our plans change,” Lovrekovic said. “And if it reaches a point to where we’re not able to physically come out and do what we’re doing right now, with the restrictions that we have in place, then we go into a ship out mode.”
John Martineau, opened his family’s truck, Swamp Shack Barbeque, in Blountstown just over a year ago. When the pandemic first broke, he said he was concerned.
“I didn’t really know how this would impact our business,” Martineau said. “I was really concerned. But what we’ve done, we’ve stayed on our normal routine. We did cut back our hours a little bit. But, we have seen an increase in traffic over these few days. And actually, since last week.”
Both of these owners explained they are taking the pandemic and the guidelines seriously, but still receiving community support.
“Being set up outside, and spreading these tables out the way we had them before away from the trailer, it gives people the opportunity to separate themselves,” Martineau said. “And they’ve been doing a good job, they’re very mindful of it. Yes, we do have a sign that says, ‘Please keep a six foot distance,’ and that type of information, but they’re already doing it.”
Lovrekovic echoed Martineau’s thoughts on community support.
“The local community has been very supportive of us, and we are small business, we’re family-owned and operated,” Lovrekovic said. “This is how we pay our bills. And folks are coming to us, and they’re supporting us.”
Florida food trucks are allowed to continue serving food under the current stay at home order, and these two spots are working to make online orders available.
“For us, looking into the future, everything is still a go for us,” Martineau said. “We just see this as a bump in the road.”