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Food trucks burn out from rising grocery and gas costs

Posted at 6:13 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 10:20:31-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As Las Vegas Restaurant Week continues, food truck operators are calling on the public for their support as inflation hits mobile food vendors double-time, as they continue working through the pandemic. Gas prices are the highest they’ve been in U.S. history, and grocery bills are skyrocketing.

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“I lost my job on the Strip," said Ryan DiMaria. "So at that time I was like, 'I just wanted to work for myself.'”

Beef patties and jerk chicken are staple dishes with Yaad Patty, a mobile food vendor serving up Jamaican cuisine. DiMaria and his wife started their business right in the middle of the pandemic.

“At that time, people couldn’t go out to eat, so we started off doing deliveries and pickups so it actually really worked out to get our product out there,” DiMaria said.

Yaad Patty is part of a growing trend. More food truck operators are filing for business licenses throughout the valley. However, as inflation hits a 40-year high, mobile restaurants are struggling to keep up with the costs.

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“I don’t know if having my food truck out or having the restaurant available is any cheaper,” said Family Soul owner Daniel Chatman.

Fried catfish, yams, greens, chicken, mac and cheese, and stuffing are specialties at Family Soul Restaurant on Rainbow Boulevard and Smoke Ranch Road. During the pandemic, Chatman converted his Soul Food Cafe Express food truck into the restaurant.

“You have a couple of different types of fuels on your truck, and what you have with that is a double burden," Chatman said. "That cost is kind of crazy, as well as the overhead costs when you’re in the building. You have your electricity and food costs and other things that are going up.”

Chefs heat up the stoves ahead of Las Vegas Restaurant Week

Restaurant owners like Chatman and DiMaria especially depend on local support, and they welcome events like Restaurant Week to give them a boost in business. During the week, participating restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds to the local non-profit Three Square Food Bank. The event runs from June 6 to 17.