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'Just trying to survive' | Rising prices making it tougher for food trucks to stay on the streets

Soaring gas prices, meat prices and the pandemic are reasons cited for higher operating costs for food trucks in Stockton

STOCKTON, California — With gas prices and inflation continuing to climb, it has put some food trucks in survival mode as they try to make ends meet.

"It's pretty tough," said David "Chef D" Tran, who operates the Sukai Hibachi Bistro parked off Pacific Avenue near Benjamin Holt Drive.

Tran runs a high end menu, with prices to match, for his Japanese cuisine.

For example, New York steak with lobster and shrimp will cost you $45.

"What I wanted to do with the community is bring something different onto a truck," Tran said.

While he's worked with Japanese food for 12 years, Tran launched his food truck business seven months ago.

Despite his soaring costs, he says he is doing all he can to keep menu prices intact.

"We used to pay $2 per pound for chicken. And, right now, we're paying almost $5 per pound," Tran said.

Still, while paying more, customers like Monica Bou keep coming back.

"We love to support local, so we definitely come here every single day that we work actually," Bou said.

On West Weber Avenue near Downtown Stockton, Willy's Taco's touts its food as the best tacos in town.

"We try to add more smokiness and spices, more than just drenching it with a bunch of like salsa," said Amber Biehl, representing the family-owned business.

For 10 years, Willy's was a catering business. However, six months ago, they decided to take their business on the road not knowing that the costs would skyrocket.

Their cost to run the truck's diesel generator increased from $100-$150 a week to over $200.

Their food prices jumped too. Quesadillas and burritos went from $8 to $10.

"Meat prices, I mean vegetables too, they're going up there as well," Biehl said.

Stockton has 205 licensed food trucks, according to a city spokesperson.

In the words of one food truck operator, "We're just trying to survive."


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