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Food truck vendors feel the pressure at the pump

Food truck vendors feel the pressure at the pump

CREATED Feb 26, 2013

Reporter: Justin Schecker

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - While everyone is feeling the pain at the pump, the higher gas prices are taking a bite out of the bottom line of local businesses that run on gas.

Travis Miller co-owns and operates Serial Grillers, a food truck that serves rib-eye cheesesteaks and angus burgers. 
 
When the Serial Grillers mobile kitchen is attached, Miller says his yellow pick-up truck only travels 10-12 miles per gallon.
 
As gas prices have gone up to an average of about $3.50 in Tucson, Miller tells 9 On Your Side the bottom line for his food truck has gone down about $50 per week.            
 
"If its affecting me, it is going to affect anyone that has a mobile business because at the end of the day we go to where the people are at," Miller said. "Right now, there's about 30 food trucks in the area that set up at these food truck round-ups every week, so it does affect 30 local businesses I would say that I'm associated with."
 
The higher prices factor into decisions as to how far Miller will go to reach customers, he said. 
 
Serial Grillers turned down an invite in January to enter a food truck festival in Scottsdale and Miller constantly finds himself asking this question.
 
"Are we going to be able to make that money back or is it just beneficial to stay in Tucson and serve our local customers?" he said.
 
What Miller wont do is raise the prices on his menu. He tells 9 On Your Side the more he pays at the pump is just more fuel to serve more customers.  
 
"I just have the mentality that we're going to have to sell more today than we normally do to kind of account for those costs," Miller said.
 
Relief at the pump means food truck vendors would also save on the money they need to fuel the generators in their mobile kitchens.
 
Drew Wiley runs KoolTwists, an ice cream food truck. He told 9 On Your Side via email he had to cancel an event in Lake Havasu last month because of rising gas prices.      
 
"I figured it was going to run me about another $125 for gas in my truck and generator," Wiley said. "I run a generator that is a little larger than most other food trucks do to the ice cream machine."
 
Gas prices in Tucson are still about a quarter less than the national average, but any price drop would be welcome news to food truck owners like Miller. 
 
"If we do see some relief, it is going to help a lot of people and make the business more sustainable," Miller said.