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."