Winter is coming for the food trucks located on Sachem Street, and along with it, a potential decline in business.
About 10 food trucks are stationed daily at the Ingalls Rink parking lot. The trucks, which offer dishes ranging from pad thai noodles to barbecue pulled pork, are popular among those who work and study near Science Hill, given the small range of other dining options in the area. But as temperatures begin to drop, so do sales, multiple truck owners said.
“When it gets too cold, some people don’t come out,” Shatang Thai Restaurant food truck owner Methanon Sing said. “Starting in December, business is very slow.”
Sing has been in the food truck business for about 10 years. Though he started with his restaurant Shatang Thai Restaurant on Whalley Avenue he decided to enter the food truck business after experiencing slow business at the brick-and-mortar location.
With the recent sunny days and mild climates, Sing has experienced a normal flow of customers. However, he expects that to soon change. Business slows noticeably during the months of December, January and February, Sing said, because customers are less willing to venture out into the cold to find food. He added that business will not start to pick back up again until the warmer months of March and April.
Jose Barbosa, who works at the Ali Baba’s Fusion food truck, said he does not see any noticeable changes in business due to decreasing temperatures alone. Barbosa said the cold weather does not hinder business but that when it rains, there is a sharp decline in customers.
“Sometimes we only have half of [usual] business during lunchtime when it rains,” Barbosa said. “People try to look for something more quick with less lines.”
However, while some food truck owners and employees notice a halt in sales during the winter months, many customers — mostly graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from the Yale community that work around the Science Hill area — will not let the colder weather deter them from eating at the trucks.
In fact, six out of eight customers surveyed stated that they would continue to eat regularly at the food trucks in the winter. Two first-year New Havenites said that they remained unsure what to expect from the winter and thus could not say whether they would eat from the trucks in the colder weather. No customers said they would not be eating from the food trucks solely because of winter weather.
Sahana Ghosh GRD ’17 said she gets lunch from the food trucks approximately once a week. As a sixth-year Yale student, she said she is already used to the cold New Haven winters.
“[Although] I get lazy [during the winter] especially when I have to wait and my hands are getting cold,” Ghosh said. But, she added that it appears as though “business doesn’t suffer,” and that there are still long lines at the trucks in the winter.
Hernán Vanzetto, a postdoctoral associate in computer science, said he often picks up lunch from the food trucks and that “depending on the time you go, there are less people [and] shorter lines.” Vanzetto said that in the winter he simply just buys his food from the trucks and goes inside somewhere warm to eat.
Vilhelm Sjoberg, an associate research scientist at Yale who frequents the food trucks a few times a week, similarly said he would not be deterred by colder temperatures.
“I’ll have to eat somehow,” Sjoberg said.
One of the reasons that customers continue to eat at the food trucks despite having to wait outside in winter weather is the lack of dining options on and around Science Hill. Some options include cafe located in the Kline Biology Tower on Prospect Street, as well as Evans Hall Cafe and Charley’s Place at the Yale School of Management. The opening next fall of the two new residential colleges on Prospect Street — Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges — will open up more dining options in the area for undergraduates and faculty.
However, Ghosh said though there are a few other dining options in the area, they are more expensive and do not have as wide of a selection as the multiple food trucks.
Winter starts this year on Dec. 21.