Food truck owners are continuing to struggle with unsustainably low sales at their new campus locations.

Last week, Parlez-Vous Crêpe left Duke's food truck line-up altogether, and other trucks said they are also considering ceasing their offerings at Swift Avenue, where sales have been poor. 

Jody Argote, Parlez-Vous Crêpe’s owner, said it was regrettable that her truck could not stay.

“For us, we couldn’t afford to keep going there as much as we appreciate the loyalty of the students,” she said, noting that she expected sales to get worse as the weather gets colder this winter.

Brian Taylor, Trinity '16 and DUSDAC chair, said he was disappointed to see Parlez-Vous leave.

“It’s been a fantastic truck for us,” Taylor said. “I know students really like it, so I hate to see them go, but I understand why."

Late this summer, Duke Dining informed the truck owners that they would be moved from Chapel Drive to locations in the Kilgo parking lot and on Swift Avenue. Food truck owners previously told The Chronicle that they were dissatisfied with the move and misinformed about student demand at the Swift location. 

François Kerckhof, owner of Belgian Waffle Crafters, said that trying to sell food on Swift Avenue has been "horrible," and that he is always hoping his truck will get another shift in the Kilgo parking lot. 

"So they want us to go [to Swift]... but all of the trucks want to cancel it because we’re losing money," he said. "If they force me to stay at Swift, I won't go there anymore at all."

Getting out of their contracts with Duke Dining requires one month’s written notice, Argote previously told The Chronicle.

"I know that some of them were considering leaving the whole thing," Kerckhof said. "I think we are all in a strange position. We all like Duke, we all love the students and we had a great experience [before]. But Duke Dining is not giving us a lot of options." 

Several truck owners said sales are slightly better in the Kilgo parking lot and could potentially improve there, but Argote explained that it was still not worth it for her truck. The food trucks are all required to serve at both locations, and Duke Dining will not permit them to discontinue service at Swift Avenue, she said. 

Robert Coffey, director of dining services, wrote in an email that his department had not received the trucks' request to discontinue service at Swift Avenue until “late last week” and that he would work with student leaders to make a determination.

Coffey also wrote that Duke Dining encouraged the trucks to build relationships with apartment managers near the Swift location to help boost sales. Apartment managers say the trucks never did, he wrote.

Gus Megaloudis, owner of the Gussy's Greek food truck, said he was told that if his truck did not show up at Swift Avenue, trucks would not be allowed to serve at the Kilgo lot either. His truck is exploring using two employees instead of its normal three while serving at Duke.

“It’s not worth it anymore,” Megaloudis said. “We can do same exact kind of money now at other jobs."

Although selling food in the Kilgo lot had potential to improve sales, the late hours of their designated shifts—from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.—are not helping, Megaloudis explained. He has started arriving at 7 p.m. and leaving by 9 p.m. to avoid slow sales times.

Parlez-Vous’ issues extended beyond the Swift Avenue location. The truck has had trouble connecting to the University’s wifi, which is needed for handling sales, Argote added. Instead, she has had to write all sales down manually.

Argote noted that due to their contracts, food trucks cannot increase their prices to compensate for low revenues or Duke’s 17.2 percent take on all sales. 

Taylor said that the food trucks were moved from their previous Chapel Drive locations because they were technically parked in fire lanes, but Argote said this was not relayed to her even though her truck had been in that location for six years.

“The University and Duke Dining have worked very hard to find viable parking locations free of charge, close to the students [and] residents... for the food trucks to serve the Duke community,” Coffey wrote. “Duke Dining also advocated for students' request to have food trucks on Swift and worked closely with Duke Card and Duke Parking to make this happen.”

Taylor added that the University incurred fines last year because the food trucks parked on Chapel Drive.

Still, Parlez-Vous and Gussy’s Greek’s owners said they feel slighted by Duke Dining for the changes and the perception that West Union's opening marginalized their role on campus. Argote said she rated her experience with Duke Dining “at the bottom," compared to the other universities she has worked with. Megaloudis added that he just wanted a clear indication about whether food trucks were fully supported.

“If they don’t want us to have that fair opportunity then so be it, let us go on and take care of our businesses and our families,” he said.

Taylor offered an apology for their plight, noting that the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee would meet Thursday to discuss possible changes for the food trucks.

“I feel like we didn’t do the best we could to communicate with them the changes being made,” Taylor said. “I’d assure them that we really do want them on campus, we’re going to work as hard as we can to find them a place on campus.... We don’t want to force them out.”