AUSTIN, Texas — The food industry is fragile, and slowed sales due to COVID-19 caused layoffs and potential restaurant closures.

  • Some food trucks are moving to residential areas
  • Businesses have to check with HOA first

But what about smaller operations, like food trucks?

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“I’m the owner, I’m the chef, I’m the only employee. I do it all.”

Malavita Barese runs Mama Mal’s, a food truck permanently parked at one of Austin’s most popular music venues — the Saxon Pub. But since live music was silenced due to the coronavirus, her business plummeted.

“My food truck sales have dramatically decreased by 75 percent, which has been really hard on me right now,” she sighed.

Even with adjustments to keep costs down, from cutting her hours, to offering only take-out orders, she’s still frantic.

Photo of a food truck in a parking lot in Austin (Victoria Maranan/Spectrum News)

“I’m trying a little bit of everything to survive,” Barese said.

“If these people don’t make some sort of income, we’re not gonna be the food truck capital that everyone kinda considers us,” said ATX Food Truck Fest’s David Poku. “There’s not gonna be food trucks after this.”

Poku manages several food trucks and said right now, things look bleak.

“I can’t be naive and assume this is gonna be over in two or three months,” he stressed.

“It’s funny, everyone’s referring to their HOAs and are like,’ can people bring food trucks to our property?’ and it’s pretty smart!” Poku exclaimed.

Poku helped several food trucks coordinate with properties on when and where they can set up shop. The out-of-the-box idea could be key to these businesses’ survival.

“We all gotta make strides to allow them to somehow make some sort of income,” Poku said.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, even at a cost.

“I really worked hard at this and I’ll have to come up with a decision on if I’m gonna close this down in the next 60 days,” Barese said.

She applied for small business loans to keep her truck open, but because she didn’t have employees, she couldn’t qualify.

If you are a food trailer operator looking to connect with properties in Austin, e-mail