Austin’s newest food truck specializes in Indian and Mediterranean food, but the menu isn’t the only thing that sets the truck apart — what makes Kababeque special is that it is owned and operated by a UT sophomore.
After working at a friend’s food truck during last year’s South By Southwest festival, chemistry sophomore Fahad Raza decided a food truck would be a manageable and profitable business venture. He purchased a food truck on Craigslist, painted it himself and began planning a menu. The truck opened Friday at Fifth and Colorado streets.
“[Kababeque] a way to make income without taking away from my school time,” Raza said. “Since it’s on weekend nights, it makes it much more manageable.”
Raza began making plans for Kababeque with his brother-in-law in November. Like many food truck owners, he was able to quickly start the business. Tony Yamanaka, owner of the website Food Trailers Austin, said most people who want to start up a food truck business do so because it is fairly easy to operate a mobile vending truck.
Raza said he is looking forward to seeing how his food truck venture will expand.
“We’ll see how South By Southwest goes because that’s a real moneymaker,” Razad said. “Once that gets us some revenue, hopefully we’ll do another food truck or wait it out a couple more years and have a restaurant somewhere.”
Unlike traditional restaurants, food trucks require fewer operating hours, less maintenance and a smaller staff. Raza said the experience will teach him how to be an entrepreneur. He said his goal is to eventually make enough revenue to have his own staff and more food trucks. UT students will receive discounts at Kababeque with their student IDs.
Yamanaka said a rough estimate of food trailers in the city can be found through how many mobile vending permits are issued, though that license is also for people who vend at farmer’s markets, and not every license means the truck is active. In 2013, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department issued 1,239 mobile vending permits.
Yamanaka said there are likely 300 to 500 active food trailers, and 215 are registered with his website.
Yamanaka said he sees many food trailers fail because owners do not put enough effort into the business.
“It’s a totally different beast,” Yamanaka said. “You’re not able to make the same kind of money you can in a restaurant, so people say it’s a lot cheaper to get into, but it’s also not as lucrative.”
Raza and his brother-in-law plan to do all the cooking, cleaning and money managing for Kababeque.
“I’m excited about the fact that I’m learning how to be an entrepreneur while in college,” Raza said. “Worst comes to worst, I’ll have those skills that I can use later on in life.”