Food trucks have been disappearing from campus, but some students and food truck owners are determined to make them stay.
Duke Dining's decision to move food trucks from their previous location in front of the chapel came after the reopening of the Brodhead Center last year. Director of Dining Services Robert Coffey explained that this year, several food trucks will be located near the 300 Swift apartment complex, where electrical support has been installed for the trucks. He noted that his office is also working with Duke Parking to find a temporary lot for food trucks near the Kilgo Quadrangle due to construction.
“Duke is where it all started to me, so I’ll always be loyal to the students, I’ll always come back,” said Gus Megaloudis, owner of Gussy’s Greek food truck and a vendor on campus since 2007. “[It] might start off slow, but by the end of the year, we’re doing pretty well for ourselves.”
Megaloudis said that he felt that the relocation was "unfair," but understood that the decision was made in light of fire lane requirements.
He said that business was much better near the Chapel because food trucks benefitted from constant foot traffic, describing it as a "booming business" with almost 300 customers every night. After making the move to Swift, however, he said his profitability dropped anywhere from 60 to 80 percent.
“I’m going to continue doing what I need to do, and hopefully I’ll be able to get something better than I have now,” Megaloudis said. “We had our spot, and they took it away from us.”
Some food trucks that were relocated to Swift Avenue last Fall discontinued their business with the University shortly afterwards. In October, Parlez-Vous Crêpe left Duke's food truck line-up altogether. François Kerckhof, owner of Belgian Waffle Crafters, said selling food on Swift was "horrible." Belgian Waffle Crafters has since ceased its service with Duke.
Senior Julia Medine, co-chair of the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee, wrote in an email that food trucks will remain an important part of campus dining despite this relocation.
“Food trucks are a wonderful and important staple in Duke's food scene because they provide niche items and fast service,” she wrote. “To whatever extent possible, DUSDAC wants food trucks to be accessible, affordable and reliable.”
She indicated that DUSDAC wants to bring food trucks back to West Campus as soon as possible, but explained that the committee is at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
Similarly, senior Yuqi Yun said that food trucks add important variety to Duke’s food scene.
“I was very excited about West Union, but after a year I got tired of the food there, so I do want more options,” she said.
Yun, a 300 Swift resident, added that having food trucks near her apartment is especially convenient for her, noting the lack of nearby restaurants.
In spite of the relocation, Megaloudis said the joy of serving Duke students keeps him "adamant about being loyal" in spite of any drop in profit.
“For me, it’s an honor to be here because I’ve seen Duke students for many years now, I’ve seen how dedicated and hardworking they are,” he said. “Duke has been good to me.”