Sink your teeth into shawarma one day, sip on a vegan latte the next. And while you’re at it, wave at the avocado playing a guitar.
If you know where to look on Chapman’s campus, you’ll find neon green, hot pink and baby blue trucks. All with edible treats inside.
What a contrast to the beige plates of Sodexo’s cafeteria.
“I feel like we just have Qdoba and SubConnection, so when food trucks come, it’s good to have something that’s different,” said sophomore Kayal Zoughaib.
The problem is no one really knows when the food trucks are coming to campus.
Well, most people except Curbside Bites, a local food truck coordination service. Sodexo, the company that runs all Chapman dining services, hired Curbside Bites to organize the food truck schedule in 2012. Now, Curbside Bites organizes a variety of food trucks to come to campus four times a week.
Students can access a schedule on the Curbside Bites website, although it’s not always accurate.
Namely, the schedule for vegan coffee truck Miffies Coffee is missing. But students can expect to see tacos laden with guacamole, Italian-fusion burgers, artery-clogging Louisiana comfort food, and cheesy loaded fries on a weekly basis.
Students can request specific food trucks by filling out an inquiry form on the Curbside Bites website.
“When food trucks started taking off years ago, students wanted more variety on campus, and so Sodexo had reached out to us about having food trucks on campus,” said Christian Murcia, CEO of Curbside Bites.
Students today are grateful for the variety. Freshman Jayne Bamis was drawn to the guitar-playing avocado of Guac-and-Roll Tacos. It was her first time ever buying from a food truck. As a vegetarian, she normally doesn’t find many options among food trucks – and she loved it.
“We were planning to eat at the [cafeteria], and I was like, ‘This sounds better than the caf,’” Bamis said.
Guac N’ Roll Tacos, like many other food trucks, is a family-owned business. Alexia Bautista is one of five siblings who help run the truck with their dad, who started the truck in Oct. 2020. Bautista and her dad had been working at a restaurant in Fullerton before the pandemic put them out of work for a few months.
When they did return, it wasn’t the same.
“We just weren’t happy,” Bautista said.
So they started a food truck. At the restaurant, Bautista said they grew exasperated with slow days, waiting for customers to walk in. They wanted a way to go to the customer directly, which they found with the mobile nature of a food truck.
It’s not just variety that’s pulling students to the food trucks. They also enjoy supporting local businesses.
Junior Tanshi Mohan is a frequent customer at Miffies Coffee, with a habit of checking their Instagram for when the truck is coming to campus. She first ordered from the truck after being fed up with the long lines at the Starbucks, ironically located right next to Miffies Coffee.
“I had an 8 a.m. class, and I needed caffeine and didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for Starbucks,” Mohan said. “Plus, Miffies is so much better.”
She now visits the truck at least once a week.
Perhaps because of the proximity of other eating options and the small size of campus, food trucks don’t always make a lot of profit at Chapman.
“We make our minimum here, a little bit more sometimes, but we do have to give 20% to the school,” Bautista said. “We don’t increase our prices for it, so we don’t make as much as we could.”
But Bautista said that compared to other locations, it still makes enough profit to keep the truck, and her dad’s dream, alive.
“[My dad has] always wanted to do his own restaurant, his own cuisine,” Bautista said. “So you’re supporting us, you’re supporting our family.”
Adrienne Mitchel is a broadcast journalism and documentary student from the San Francisco Bay Area with a passion for storytelling. In her free time, she loves trying new food and playing the piano.