Food trucks reduce events, add fees to cover high gas pricing – Buffalo Business First – Buffalo Business First

Some area food truck operators are adding surcharges and keeping their trucks closer to home to help cover the increased costs tied filling their tanks and paying workers.
“Obviously, we’ve raised the prices of our catering and of our pizzas to cover the gas, but the employee increase is what costs us the most,” said David Perri, owner of Pizza Amore “The Wood Fire Way” LLC, who says he’s struggling to attract the 10-15 high school and college-age workers he generally brings in for the summer schedule.
Sometimes that means closing one of his two storefronts — on Grand Island and North Tonawanda — so he has enough workers for the food truck and two mobile trailers that move from event to event all summer.
When it comes to the price of gas, however, it’s just one more increased cost of doing business, Perri said.
“It is what it is,” he said. “The question is how much you can raise your prices before people say it’s not worth it.”
Perri is minimizing longer-distance trips, concentrating instead on bigger events such as Taste of Buffalo, the Lewiston Jazz Festival, Artpark concerts and the Erie County Fair, supplemented with more paid catering jobs for weddings and graduations.
“The bottom line is less than it has been in the past because our costs are higher. This is the first time in 11 years we’ve experienced where in every single aspect of our business, products have gone up.”
While labor remains the biggest issue at Fat Bob’s Smokehouse, gas pricing has prompted limited travel to distances within 20 miles of downtown, said Bridget Ryan, sales director.
“We are being more conservative for sure on bookings,” she said. “Luckily, return of pre-pandemic events locally are keeping us busy.”
The restaurant is also running just one of its two trucks and has only signed up for festivals and events that are the most cost-effective.
“While in the past we would’ve done more casual lunch events or smaller functions, due to labor costs and gas prices we are more strategic in our bookings, for sure,” Ryan said.
Anderson’s Frozen Custard is focusing more on its six stores to maximize staff time and overcome gas pricing.
“I try not to have long travel times on my schedule as it has always been more expensive to operate when you include a long drive, and there are so many eager guests to serve right here in Buffalo and adjacent areas,” said Torsten Wildermuth, food truck manager for Anderson’s. “We have a lighter schedule in general compared to pre-pandemic. Fuel prices and basically every cost of running a business being as high as they are does not help the bottom line.”
At least one food truck business has been unaffected by the price of gasoline: Cheesy Chick Food Truck uses ethanol for its three trucks and generators, so the company is used to higher costs, said Jonathan Rowen, co-owner.
The company is spending about $600 a week just on gas, spending about $180 to fill one tank and $35 for each of its three generators. If costs remain high, Rowen said, he’ll add a small fee to the total bill versus increasing the cost of menu items so it’s easier to take it back off later.
“We have a lot of events and are staying busy as usual; however, we are being a bit more selective on how far we drive,” he said. “However, we have generally always been aware of long travels mainly because our trucks do not get the best gas mileage. The further we drive, the more damage we are doing to the environment.”
Another strategy: Cheesy Chick is requiring more sales minimums for jobs it books further away and saying no to others that present a risk of not making enough on sales.
“This year, we just can’t risk the gas money,” he said.
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