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What Are Grease Trucks?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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Grease trucks are also known by slang names such as food truck, mobile restaurant and rolling kitchen, however, they are perhaps best known by one of their less-flattering names: the roach coach. Constructed of a large unit with warming trays, refrigeration devices and the occasional microwave oven mounted on a light track chassis, the grease trucks stop in the parking lot area or another designated area of a construction site, manufacturing plant or warehouse to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to workers who would otherwise eat out of a vending machine or eat nothing at all. Commonly serving fresh fruit, juices and salads, the grease trucks take their name from earlier versions that served primarily greasy burgers, sausages and other not-so-healthy foods.

Alongside of the healthier options on the modern grease trucks, pizza, sandwiches and candy can be purchased to allow those who want to enjoy a not-so healthy snack or meal the opportunity to do so for a relatively competitive price when compared to the convenience store pricing. Unlike the earlier grease trucks that offered low-grade food at exorbitant prices, modern food truck owners realize the advantage of offering workers a competitively-priced, fresh alternative to fast food drive-thrus and the lunch pail. A satisfied customer will often become a repeat customer and generate more money in the long run for the grease truck.

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Modern rolling restaurants are also inspected on a regular basis and must meet strict standards for not only the preparation of the food, but the cleanliness of the truck and driver. Earlier versions of the trucks had no inspection or very poor inspection at best, leading to the endearing "roach coach" term as many of the food offerings were infested with bugs when purchased. In the U.S., "made on" and expiration dates now accompany every food wrapper, ensuring the food is fresh, safe and inspected.

The typical design platform in the manufacture of grease trucks is to use a light-duty pickup truck chassis with the food unit mounted on the chassis. Other purpose-built grease trucks are available that resemble small delivery vans constructed from stainless steel. Regardless of the styling of the vehicle, the arrival of the grease trucks at break, lunch and dinner time is eagerly anticipated by many hungry employees. Often, the food truck company will contract for the opportunity to serve a company's employees. This commonly involves paying a fee to the company by the food truck operator to allow the truck to enter and serve food at their location.

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