One of the most popular trends in the food service industry comes on four wheels. Food trucks have hit the pavement across America, providing quality – sometimes gourmet – meals to anyone from tourists to college kids to working professionals. On the strength of local, organic ingredients, fast service and convenient locations, many favor a food truck lunch to a stop at the closest fast food restaurant. Though the prices have grown, the demand is still strong.

Catering to hungry market
From 2007 to 2012, the number of food trucks nearly doubled and revenue jumped from $339.7 million to $716.2 million, according to NBC News. That's because the recession forced consumers to rethink how they spent their money. Patrons found food trucks to be an affordable alternative to dining at a restaurant. In turn, chefs flocked to the food truck scene, attracted to the cheaper labor and rent.

As food trucks gained popularity, competition increased – and prices along with it. Coolhaus, with 11 trucks around the country, offers a $6 ice cream sandwich. Feelin' Crabby, of Washington, D.C., offers lobster and crab sliders for $11 to $17. The trucks have parking fees and storage restrictions to worry about, also affecting their prices. But diners still prefer the convenience and speed of the gourmet food over cheaper, lower-quality output, or the long wait for expensive restaurant food.

Keeping the wheels in drive
Some analysts expect the food truck industry to diminish over the next five years. IBISWorld anticipates 4.2 percent annual growth through 2019, following 12.5 percent growth since 2009, NBC News reported. But food trucks are careful to create more demand by expanding their brands, taking to social media and contemplating actual restaurant locations.

QSR Magazine recommends food trucks focus on a few dishes and master those, rather than going for a large and varied menu. By sticking with a niche, the truck can become a destination for a specific cuisine. Food trucks can also take advantage of multiple locations, seeking out the rush and catering to that area before moving on. Additionally, they can reach patrons in areas untouched by restaurants like airport parking lots and college campuses.

Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.