Jack in the Box officials said it isn’t clear yet whether franchising is in their truck’s future.For now, the truck will be used as a “brand building” vehicle in Southern California, where it will be available for the growing number of food-truck special events and catering, said Brian Luscomb, Jack in the Box spokesman.
Dubbed “Jack’s Munchie Mobile,” the 34-foot-long catering truck is a first for Jack in the Box. The truck has the same equipment as a brick-and-mortar kitchen, including a grill, fryer, toaster, fountain beverage dispenser and prep area for burgers, sandwiches and tacos. It also has a 47-inch digital menu board and satellite radio.
Other burger chains, including Carl’s Jr. and In-N-Out Burger, have offered catering trucks for some time, as are a growing number of full-service operators in Los Angeles like California Pizza Kitchen and Border Grill.
Beth Mansfield, a spokeswoman for Carl’s Jr. parent CKE Restaurants Inc., based in Carpinteria, Calif., said the company owns a fleet of seven “Star Diner” trucks for special events and catering.
The company has gotten so much interest in the trucks from franchisees, Carl’s Jr. recently moved one of the Star Diner trucks to Texas for the rest of the year.
“Our franchisees in Texas lobbied for it, along with our company operators and marketing staff,” said Mansfield, noting that the trucks are available for a per-use fee.
I asked Harriet Tregoning, director of planning for Washington, DC, why the District government is so willing to welcome Walmart. Part of her answer: The District is underserved by retailers. “We have only 8 to 9 square feet of retail per capita in the District,” she noted. “By comparison, she said, “The region has about 23 square feet per capita. We leak about $1 billion in retail sales every year” — and thus lose tax revenue.
Moreover, locally-based enterprises return a larger portion of their revenue to the local economy — by using nearby accountants, nearby web designers, and so on — than do centralized retail chains. A study in Chicago by the firm Civic Economics found that every $100 spent at national chains produced an average of $43 in economic activity in the city, while $100 spent at locally owned businesses generated $68 in economic activity in the city.
Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says economists at the University of California examined more than 2,000 Walmart store openings and found that the average Walmart eliminates 1.4 retail jobs for every one job it creates.