It’s never been difficult to find fabulous restaurants with fantastic fare on the East End, but many food fans still head out each weekend in search of more elusive eats made aboard their favorite food trucks. There’s something special about these kitchens on wheels, typically appearing at local breweries, private parties or outdoor fairs and festivals, and always bringing an entrepreneurial spirit along with some truly excellent, innovative eats.
But finding food trucks isn’t always easy, especially if one hopes to experience something new. The recently launched What the Truk app seeks to solve this problem and make local food trucks more accessible than ever, and it’s got the bones in place to do just that and more.
App creator Evan Tousey explains that What the Truk tracks users’ favorite food trucks, showing them when each truck is open, and where, while also providing menus and the ability to order ahead — and it will only get better as his community of trucks and foodies grows.
How What the Truk Works
It works like this: Imagine heading out to the North Fork on a Saturday and deciding you’d love to grab lunch from an interesting food truck in the area. Simply open the What the Truk app, log in, and hit the “Near Me” button. Up pops a map populated by little food truck icons, each offering the truck’s name and location when tapped, along with an option to view their menu.
Now tap the one you want, order your food and then head over to pick it up, receiving notifications about your order’s progress as you go.
“The concept is so simple, sometimes people are like, ‘Really? That’s not being done yet?’ But it’s true,” Tousey says, explaining that his easy-to-use, functional application is building a community by bridging the gap between foodies and food truck owners. “I want to help people find food trucks that they wouldn’t necessarily know about. Right now, unless you physically drive past it, or somebody tells you about a food truck, it’s really, really hard to find one.”
What the Truk Takes Shape
Like a lot of people in 2020, Tousey found himself with extra time on his hands after the pandemic hit and he was forced to stay home in Miller Place instead of working at his finance job in New York City. “I was always looking for a project, something that I could work on in my spare time. And then, all of a sudden, I wasn’t commuting into the city anymore. I had a few additional hours per day, and started teaching myself how to code,” he says, recalling how What the Truk came to fruition.
“In 2021 I had my first iteration of the application created, and I did a beta period last summer,” Tousey continues. “I had a really great launch party, had a lot of friends and family and just a lot of food truck lovers and supporters.”
Since What the Truk’s initial launch for a select cohort of users, from summer 2021 through this past winter, Tousey says he received a lot of helpful input from food trucks and users that helped shape the app to what it is today. “I received a lot of feedback from people. A lot of my food truck partners gave me some great advice, great feedback. Same thing from my user community,” he adds. “Now this summer I’m actually out. The application is fully released on both the Google Play Store and also the Apple App Store, so it’s available for anyone to download, whether you’re a food truck owner or you’re a customer looking for a food truck.”
While he may be from points west, Tousey says the Hamptons and North Fork are an important part of his plan for What the Truk. He really connected with the East End while studying environmental design and planning as a member of Stony Brook Southampton’s very first graduating class, which started in 2007. “I loved being in Southampton, I love the campus,” he says, noting that he met many lifelong friends here before continuing his studies with a masters in urban planning at NYU. This education and his subsequent move into finance, Tousey acknowledges, offered little when it came to founding What the Truk, which he’s now pursuing full-time.
The Future of What the Truk
“Right now, I’m really trying to build up the relationships with food trucks, really build the community, and I’m very excited about this summer,” he says, describing Long Island, specifically the East End, as a great testing ground where he hopes to host special events featuring individual food trucks throughout the season. “I really want to focus on adding value to the food trucks and adding value to the customers. My value add to the customers is helping them find food trucks, and my value add to the food trucks is hopefully bringing in additional order flow for them,” Tousey explains. “If I’m able to prove that here, I think I can replicate that model wherever I go.”
For now, What the Truk has 10 food trucks fully integrated and active on the app, and a number of others that are in various phases of his “onboarding process.” Being part of the app costs food trucks nothing and should bring them new customers (who pay Tousey a $1 fee per transaction when ordering), but Tousey says he’s still fine-tuning and trying to increase participation on both ends of What the Truk.
“There are two sides to this, giving it a chicken or the egg situation — which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” he points out. “If there are no food trucks on the app, users/customers are not going to be engaged with the app. They’re going to say, ‘Hey, there’s no one here, this app isn’t worth my time.’ But then, for the food truck, they’re going to say, ‘Hey I’m not getting any orders on this, this app isn’t worth my time.’ … It’s almost like a positive feedback loop where the more customers and more food trucks I get just begets more food trucks and more customers, and it grows from there.”
Visit whatthetruk.com to learn more about the What the Truk app, and to read Tousey’s blog featuring stories about participating food trucks and their hardworking, innovative owners. You can download What the Truk via the website or in your chosen app store.