“When we opened our food trailer in July of 2011, it was the first of many consecutive 100-degree days,” he said. “On a 100-degree day in Oklahoma City, it can be closer to 140 degrees in front of the grill on a food truck.”
The desire to avoid another scorching truck-bound summer, coupled with a change in the health code that now requires mobile units to relocate periodically, sped up the family’s decision to open a permanent locale.
Patty Wagon originally operated out of a trailer parked on N. May Avenue across from The Village. Keeping the mobile unit in the same parking lot was great for business because people could always find it, Musick said. The original location also allowed the trailer to be hooked to a fresh water source.
But a new code requirement of moving every 12 hours really put a kink in the Patty Wagon operation.
“Twelve hours is not even a full work day for a food truck,” said Musick. “Restaurants work more like 18-hour days.”
And so the family in June opened the permanent Patty Wagon location in an old A-frame Whataburger building at N.W. 35th Street and May Avenue.
For Musick, starting with a mobile unit was a great way to test the market.
“Operating out of a trailer before making the commitment to open a brick-and-mortar location allowed us to make sure we had a viable product before we invested in a permanent location,” he said.
It also enabled an expansion of the menu. Instead of offering burgers with choice of cheese and the option of two sauces, Musick has developed six specialty burgers, a couple of hot sandwiches and seven special sauces.
Patty Wagon serves 100-percent local grass-fed beef with no added growth hormones or antibiotics. The secret weapon is a sweet sourdough bun.
“You have to keep a limited menu on a truck, because you just don’t have the refrigeration space to keep everything stocked. If you don’t sell everything on every burger, you end up having a lot of food waste,” Musick said.
And waste is something Patty Wagon tries to avoid. All of its products are compostable. It has partnered with Fertile Ground for full-scale composting.
For now, the Patty Wagon trailer is parked while the owners focus on the restaurant, with plans to use the truck in the future for special occasions and catering.
The Waffle Champion food truck recently announced it’ll be opening a permanent spot, too, in the 1212 building on N. Walker Avenue in Midtown.
While details are still being finalized, owner Todd Woodruff said he plans to keep the menu small and accessible, but in addition to his waffle sandwiches, he will likely offer soups, salads and smoothies, as well as a selection of beer and wine.
He said he hopes to open the 1,700-square-foot restaurant next February.
For Big Truck Tacos, it was never an either/or decision.
“We’ve always had both a truck and a restaurant,” said Kathryn Mathis, co-owner of Big Truck Tacos. “We knew we needed a kitchen to supply our truck. So it was a natural progression. The truck trend was new to Oklahoma City when we started, and we felt like it would be financially more beneficial to also have a permanent location where people could always find us.”
Mathis thinks Oklahoma City will start seeing more trucks opening locations in buildings, and vice versa.
“You see the trend around the country. New York, California, Portland — a lot of food trucks are putting in brick-and-mortar locations and traditional restaurants are starting to go mobile,” she said.
For those who love a good chase, don’t fret. Some of the city’s stationary restaurants may start adding wheels. S&B Burger Joint recently purchased a truck with plans to hit the pavement.