Waffles no longer available on street

Waffles no longer available on street

CHAMPAIGN — It was a good run, said Crave Truck owner Zach Ware, but his notoriously red "street waffle" food truck will be making only one more appearance before it's permanently garaged.

Ware said Sunday that lack of good customer traffic this summer — which he expects was a result of unusual weather — and a monthlong hiatus while he sorted through licensing issues with the city of Champaign forced him to make the tough decision to close his food truck business.

"This summer was incredibly hot," Ware said. "There's no people outside. Nobody wants to be walking around, and that definitely affected sales."

Ware's attempt in May to get a permit for his business sparked a public discussion about how food trucks should be licensed. The trucks have always been allowed to operate on private property with the consent of the owner, but strict rules governed how they operated on public property.

Ware did much lobbying while city officials considered and ultimately approved the launch of a one-year pilot food truck program in June.

But for the month he did not have a city permit, Ware couldn't sell waffles on public property. He said he does not blame the city — officials are working with food trucks now, and "that is commendable," he said — but it did not help.

The Crave Truck was the first of three mobile restaurants to be licensed under the city's pilot food-truck program. Two remain: the Cracked truck, which just opened this month, and the Burrito King truck.

The Crave Truck will make one more appearance Sept. 15 in Sadorus. Ware will set up at a charity event for Imerman Angels, a one-on-one support network for those fighting cancer, survivors and caregivers, according to its website.

For the event, 10 percent of sales will go to the charity.

After that, Ware said, he's ready to move on.

"I'm going to college," Ware said. He said he plans on attending Parkland College and hopefully a four-year college in the future.

The Crave Truck was in operation for nearly two years, and Ware said he has mixed feelings about how it turned out.

"I feel that it was kind of a success in the fact that we had so many friends and followers," Ware said.

On the other hand, it did not grow the way he had hoped.

"It is kind of disappointing because it was such a unique product," Ware said. "I used the best products. It just wasn't enough to get me over the hill."

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serf wrote on August 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

Congrats on sticking your neck out there and giving it a go.  I see a long career ahead as a sucessful business person.  Good luck to you in the future.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

The state of Illinois and local gov't are experts at killing entrepreneurship, fees, fines, and constraints of every type.

ialdabaoth wrote on July 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

The vast majority of businesses fail, regardless of regulations. That's just a nature of capital.

palmerlaw wrote on August 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

It was a very impressive showing of entrepreneurial spirit by Zach that will surely inspire others! Great work!

jdmac44 wrote on August 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

You would think with the economic downturn that the city would really grease the wheels, as it were, to help businesses and tax revenue get out of the starting gate and be successful.

wayward wrote on August 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

Any chance of him setting up shop on campus north of Green, or possibly trying the Research Park area?  I'm not sure if there are any lunch places within easy walking distance of AITS, EnterpriseWorx, etc.

CULater wrote on August 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

Perhaps it was the city's slow paperwork, but after trying the waffles from the crave truck I can say that I didn't enjoy the product. It was too messy for street food. The fresh waffle was rock hard and they ran out of the ingredients that I wanted to try. All in all a bad experience for my group of customers.Oh, and it took about 10 minutes to get my food. Too long to wait around on the street. I have not tried the Cracked food truck because nothing on the menu caught me eye. its very complicated and seems to be missing the Breakfast staples. Anyways, I hope new food trucks pop up, its a great idea.

Lambo wrote on August 27, 2012 at 10:08 am

Having been out in Downtown Champaign on several occasions this Summer, I always found the truck to be an interesting concept, but a waffle was not something I would run out to spend $7 to $10 on at 10PM as I was getting out of my car. That said, somewhere around 2AM, I would inevitably decide that a waffle was the best idea in the world, only to find that the truck was no longer where I had seen it previously.

I'm not sure if this was a decision of a driver or some city code that required movement, but it certainly hampered my plans and those of several people I know on more than one occasion. Still, good luck in your future endeavors!

choco640 wrote on August 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

The food trucks would do a huge business if they were to set up by the hospitals in peak hours.  Many of the employees would love a chance to pop out and get something new and exciting to eat.  We have limited time so it is not feasible for us leave the hospital, but if we could just go outside for something new it would be wonderful!

crackerman wrote on August 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Next time, try chicken and waffles! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm