Cesar Lopez, a cook with The Taco Stop, a food truck in Fort Collins, serves up food to customers at New Belgium in May 2018. Joel Blocker for BizWest

Food trucks delivering boost to region’s craft breweries

When a food truck pulls up next to a locally owned brewery, cidery or distillery in Northern Colorado or the Boulder Valley, it’s a win-win-win proposition. For the region’s scores of craft brewers, whose foamy head of steam has gone a bit flat in recent months because of market saturation, being able to offer hot food without the expenses involved in opening and running a restaurant provides a powerful draw. For owners of the food trucks, it’s an opportunity to test their culinary skills on an appreciative market without having to build a brick-and-mortar restaurant. And for the brewery’s customers, who get some yummy eats and wash them down with a selection of IPAs, stouts and porters crafted onsite, it’s the best of both worlds — or, as Jeff Crabtree puts it, “new and dynamic brews and food at their favorite place.” The co-owner of Crabtree Brewing Co. in Greeley loves the synergy the two businesses create. “If I weren’t in the brewing industry, I’d think about running a food truck,” he said. “You’re not losing thousands of dollars to rent and utilities and labor; you just pay your sales tax to the local municipality and that’s it.” ____________________________________ Click to read more about Crabtree Brewing. ____________________________________ Well, not quite, but close. Ocean Andrew, who along with partner Hunter Andersen runs On the Hook Fish and Chips, based in Laramie, Wyo., has four food trucks — one each serving Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Utah. “Colorado is for sure the hardest state to deal with,” Andrew said. “Every city is home rule, very independent. We’re licensed to 30 cities in Colorado, and I have to pay an accountant to log into every city’s system and file and pay sales taxes. Every one of those cities, every month, 60 hours a month on our stuff — and 70 percent of that is dealing with Colorado. “Three of us spend most of our time dealing with the government. It’s very hard to deal with all the inspectors who think they’re smarter than all the other inspectors in all the other cities. “But with the health department, your license is good anywhere. That’s the one saving grace.” Crabtree admits his eight years of experience dealing with food trucks isn’t perfect either. “Some of them are not as reliable as a business should be,” he said. “They’ll tell us they’re coming, and we do a lot of front-end advertising on social media — ‘Hey, this food truck will be here’ — but if they have a chance to go to a big event they may cancel on us with no notice. No one will do a contract. They’re truly an independent contractor. They will chase whatever large event that’s going on. They’re at the will of the consumer. If that happens to us, we just don’t invite ‘em back. They just burned a bridge on us. “But most of the time they do show up — and those food trucks that show up every week…

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