The food truck craze is showing no signs of slowing down

One of the best things about food trucks is the fact that you just never know what you’re going to get when you place your order, and that’s a really good thing. Oh sure, you can look at the dry erase board on the side and pick out what you want and you have an idea of what it’s going to look like. But most of the time, it’s not what you expect, and again — that’s a good thing.

Usually it exceeds your expectations. That’s because the people who manage food trucks are fueled by a passion for creativity — and a willingness to scoff at what’s been done and find a way to do it better. We take a look at the growth of the industry in this month’s Uniquely Los Angeles.

Later this month, Food Network will launch its fifth season of “The Great Food Truck Race,” a show in which food truck teams try to live out their dream and turn it into a full-time business.

This year’s race starts in Santa Barbara, California, and features three teams from Southern California: Beach Cruiser is from Venice, Madres Mexican Meals is from Norwalk and Middle Feast is from Los Angeles.

You can be sure that these three trucks, along with their five competitors will be serving up dishes you’ve never heard of before, but will surely want to try. And there’s never anything wrong with trying something new.


No more waiting

Speaking of trying something new, be sure to check out this month’s feature on Alex Backer and QLess. It was a business inspired by the frustration Backer felt waiting in line at amusement parks. QLess uses mobile technology to allow customers to enter a queue and select a time to go on a ride or sit down for dinner or meet with a service representative. It eliminates the need to wait in line for these services.

The challenge was taking the idea and turning it into a tangible product that investors could get excited about.

Backer says Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as the late Steve Jobs, inspired him.

“You look at what they have done at Google,” Backer says. “Not just the search engine, but creating the kind of organization where innovation can thrive in many different areas and you can really bet on long-term projects. It’s creating a culture. Steve Jobs and his way of disrupting industries has been an inspiration too.”

Backer has high hopes that QLess will be a trendsetter in the movement to digitize the customer experience.

“It allows for a whole lot of consequences that optimize the experience whether it’s opting people in for ongoing relationships with the merchant if they choose to do so or collecting data about walkout rates and service transaction times or getting better information about what people are there to do,” Backer says.

“Digitizing that experience of the customer flow has huge positive benefits.”