Roanoke area food trucks feel pressure from rise in food, gas prices

Inflation forcing entrepreneurs to try new measures to stay afloat

Food truck owners speak out on moving forward to deal with issues caused by rising inflation.

ROANOKE, Va. – Higher food costs and gas prices are putting pressure on local food truck businesses.

If you want a delectable lobster roll, normally you could find Salty’s Lobster & Co. food truck out and about around the area, but now, their travels are a bit more restricted.

Founder Jonathan Kelly said it can cost thousands of dollars to refill three food trucks and all of their propane gas tanks, especially if he does business near the border of North Carolina.

Now as gas prices keep going up, Kelly is limiting business to customers within a 15-mile radius.

“We used to go out all over Southwest Virginia,” Kelly said. “Now we try to stay local.”

Salty’s Lobster & Co.’s sales grew a whopping 400% in one year, but food costs are also up 300%, Kelly said.

With food costs being so high, Kelly’s seafood joint isn’t seeing much profit.

Even though high prices of food are taking a toll on his business, Kelly said increasing their prices for customers or purchasing lower quality ingredients aren’t options on the table.

“Do we buy a lower grade quality of this or that,” Kelly said. “Do we cut staff? Those things fix the bandaid for what it is now, but you will hurt your brand if you do that.”

If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat on these hot summer days, you can call on DG Ice.

The owner of DG Ice, Teano Tucker, said it costs $150 to now fill up his truck when last year it was only about $40 to fill up.

“I have to sell probably 12 or 15 cups before I start even getting my gas money for anywhere I go,” Tucker said.

Despite a 25% increase in food costs because of rising shipping prices, Tucker refuses to put the pressure on customers.

“Because my customers are my loyal customers and they kept me in business during the pandemic,” he said. “I do not want to raise my prices and carry this on to other people. I’m hoping my government will do what they are supposed to do and get the prices back down where they are supposed to be.”

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Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.