Food trucks gain popularity

It’s below freezing on a Friday night. Mehdi Saberi pulls his white food truck, emblazoned with “Gyros” spelled in bright purple LED lights, into an empty spot.

With pita bread baking in the back, he peeks his head out of the sliding window of the truck and smiles.

Saberi is another street vendor who’s found a profession in utilizing the Bloomington bar scene as an income.

Not only was he also an IU student once, he has a Ph.D. in education from IU and was a professor in the Middle East for 18 years.

Originally from Persia, Saberi moved to Bloomington in 1978 to attend school. He stayed until 1990, when he began his work teaching education in Turkey and Iran.

After retirement, he moved back to Bloomington, where both of his children are now attending college.

“I retired from work,” Saberi said. “Now I do this to support family.”

Audrey Brinkers, an employee in Sweet Claire’s Gourmet Bakery truck, said like any other restaurant, the food trucks face competition with other late-night food vendors.

“Each person has their own little niche,” she said. “The only competition is with parking. That makes a little hostile game.”

Saberi said although he owns a city and health permit for his business, there are regulations that make it hard to find a good spot to park.

“Because of the structure of the city, it’s very hard,” he said. “You cannot go on University property, and you have to be 50 yards away from any restaurants.”

Food trucks also face a huge sales slump during the winter when students aren’t as keen to be outdoors at night.

“With the cold weather right now, it’s very hard to sell,” he said. “The kids do not come out.”

Despite the winter hardship, food truck vendors will always try to be there after a night of student barhopping.

Despite how most of his customer base deals with him in an intoxicated state, Saberi said he enjoys his job.

“As far as the people are happy, I’m happy too,” he said.

 

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