Ernie Wong: The Man Behind New York's Most Popular Food Trucks

Street Food

In the last few years, branded food trucks have become a staple of the New York City street food scene. It's fascinating to see how everything from waffles to dumplings to tacos have found their way from more traditional venues into the mobile eateries that line the city's sidewalks. But someone has to build these amazing vehicles and that person is Ernie Wong, recently profiled in The New York for the work he does at the Shanghai Stainless Product & Design Company. This Brooklyn-based company is responsible for the production of many of New York's most popular food trucks including the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck and Wafel & Dinges.

Mr. Wong emphasized the importance of design in his food trucks. Each truck's interior is carefully planned so that each worker has maximum access to his or her resources inside the truck. It's also essential, according to Mr. Wong, that windows are strategically placed so that eaters can see what's going on inside the truck. "Customers get invested in the story of the truck, so it's important for them to see a hands-on entrepreneur in the window," said Wong. "Restaurants have customers, but food trucks have followers."

Mr. Wong's company first started building small mobile concession stands in the mid-90's and saw his business grow alongside the food truck industry. He said that "food trucks are an incubator for new businesses, for entrepreneurs who can't afford $500,000 to open a restaurant in New York City- but who can afford $100,000 to launch a truck." His trucks cost, on average, $30-40,000 but can range up to $100,000 with heavy customization. He has produced more than 30 of them since 2008.

Mr. Wong's business not only allows New Yorkers to enjoy a wide variety of unique treats that can be eaten on-the-go, but it also encourages a growing culture of street food in the city. His focus on quality and customizing for each client's specific menu is reflected in their food. "Our trucks are clean, and the owners are proud of the quality of their special food," he said.

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