Food trucks are growing in popularity, driven by diversity, and commuting in Midland, the nation

Food trucks are a common sight throughout the Midland area, including farmers’ markets and community events. Its popularity has increased in recent years across the country. Recently, a convoy of mobile food vendors from trucks to carts and stalls was present at the Midland County Stoppers’ inaugural fundraiser.

Midland County Crime Stoppers hosted the inaugural event focused on food trucks this weekend to raise money for the organization’s tipping fund. Crime Stoppers offer anonymous tip cash rewards of up to $2,500 leading to arrests.

“We’re just trying to rejuvenate[Midland County Crime Stoppers],” said Kim Guest Marcotte, Treasurer of Crime Stoppers.


According to Guest, Midland County Crime Stoppers have not been able to host fundraising events for the past two years due to the pandemic. While brainstorming ideas for potential events, the team decided to host a food cart gathering with food trucks rotating in the area over the three days, as well as a car and bike show. They hope to host a similar event next year.

“Food trucks have taken off since COVID,” Just Marcotte said. “We wanted to try a food truck event because everyone loves food trucks.”

Mariah Moncado from Saginaw helped serve up Mexican food from Maria’s Food Truck

Maria’s started as Maria’s Mexican Restaurant in Saginaw 27 years ago and is still in business today. The owners started serving food from the restaurant 12 years ago and added the food truck three years ago as the demand for their food increased.

“We go to the Karoo, we go to Bay City and here in Midland,” said Moncado. “Everywhere we go, people are always ordering authentic Mexican food.”

Moncado started working at Maria’s restaurant before gradually starting to work with the food truck. She enjoys working in the food cart because it takes it to new places, and allows it to interact with other vendors and make connections with customers.

“Here (in the food truck) I get a more personal experience with customers,” Moncado said. “Usually me and someone else who works in the food truck. I will make sure you get what you want. I try to please the customers as much as I can.”

Furthermore, Lee Johnson from Midland was taking care of his food cart, “The Coney Guys,” which he operated with his wife, Sondra. Since the full opening in June, Johnson has taken his wagon across Michigan and begun attending more events in Midland.

Johnson started The Coney Guys with a 70-year-old Coney Sauce recipe passed down from his grandfather. He said the work started in a “perfect storm,” after traveling to Portland, Oregon where he saw how plentiful food trucks were. After some research, Johnson started with a food cart that came with fewer responsibilities and fewer investments.

“It was after people with coronavirus were staying away from restaurants,” Johnson said. “I was keen to show the distinction and make it a real experience for them.”

According to the US Census Bureau, the number of food truck businesses across the country nearly doubled from 3,281 in 2013 to 5,970 in 2018. Oregon was among the top five states with the most food truck businesses in 2018, with 241 food truck businesses.

Johnson credits the versatility of the cuisine, its mobility and the atmosphere it provides for its success. He said his own experience with other food trucks on occasions has been positive, with businesses supporting each other. He believes that the more types of food trucks at the event, the better.

“If you become too competitive, everyone will suffer,” Johnson said. “I think there is a lot of diversity. People love diversity.”

The challenges of running a mobile food business include keeping the equipment working. Johnson said he’s gotten really good at his buggy. He cited a time when the troughs became loose during transport and the wires for the wagon’s towing lights were nearly cut. He is grateful to start with a food cart rather than a larger truck and encourages those interested in starting a similar business to do the same.

“Do your homework, start small,” Johnson said.

Brandy Desmarto, owner of Sunsational Smoothies, started her business six years ago as a way to get back into the part-time workforce after being a stay-at-home mom. She didn’t want to display any hot foods, as cooking would add to the summer heat, and she went with smoothies as an alternative.

“Midland is a healthy community,” Desmarto said. “It is good to provide and accommodate healthy options.”

There are many options for food truck sellers as the weather gets colder. Desmarteaux is shutting down Sunsational Smoothies and picking up other small jobs. According to Moncado, Maria’s food truck owners used to turn off their food trucks in the winter; Now they are considering continuing operations this winter, selling favorites including tamales and menudo – a type of soup. Likewise, Johnson is considering reusing his cart to sell soup during the winter or working another job.

Moncado encourages other food truck owners and those interested in getting into the business not to give up during slow as well as busy days.

“If you stay true to what you do,” said Moncado, “it will always be a good day.”

For more information on Midland County Crime Stoppers, visit https://www.co.midland.mi.us/Sheriff/DivisionsandServices/CrimeStoppers.aspx

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