The year of 2020 has brought many changes to what we thought of as “normal life” before the COVID-19 pandemic ever came along. While it has wreaked havoc on many industries, it has also allowed business to be creative and find solutions in order to adapt to the new restrictions we all have to abide by. Since so many bars have had to shut their doors during various stages of lockdowns, many bar owners have decided to try something else in order to keep their business alive: bar trucks.
Long Island pub owner Frank Antonetti did just that. When he had to close down his establishment Rust & Gold, he decided to revamp a 1963 Chevy delivery truck and turn it into a bar on wheels, using external taps and keg refrigeration. He was then able to sell canned cocktails and local craft beers on the streets of Huntington, New York, like an adult-version of the ice cream truck.
He told Travel + Leisure: “It was hysterical because we’d see all of these adults looking at the truck the same way a kid would look at Mister Softee. Their faces would light up. Some of them would just stand there and mouth the words, beer delivery. That’s when we knew we had something special.”
A New York State liquor law required that food be sold alongside alcohol on these trucks, so Antonetti’s truck also offers up burgers, jumbo Buffalo wing platters, and shaved ribeye sandwiches.
Army veteran Woody Norris had a similar idea. He shared: “When the pandemic began, our sales went up sixty percent.” His truck sells boozy popsicles in Charleston, South Carolina. He continued: “We’re just trying to give people a moment of happiness during these crazy times.”
Norris’s truck offers up strawberry mimosa, pomegranate sangria, and other low-proof wine pops, as well as cocktail pops like the Southern Belle, which includes top shelf bourbon, sweet tea, and peaches.
Luis Villegas of Houston, Texas had to close two out of four of his restaurants, so he decided to buy four trucks and sell cocktails and frozen drinks. He said: “It was a way to retain one hundred percent of our staff. We didn’t lay anyone off.” His truck offers piña coladas, mezcal margaritas, and original drinks like Ranch Water, which is a drink made up of tequila, Topo Chico, lime, and Tajín.
On the West Coast, Sara’s Market on the Go is an East LA gourmet grocery store on wheels. It offers up artisanal chorizo, small-batch salsas, as well as local beers. Sara Veldez, the truck’s owner says: “We’re trying to cross-promote with other businesses that might be struggling as well.”