With temperatures nearing 100 degrees across the Triangle on Wednesday, it was business as usual for fans of the area’s burgeoning food truck scene.
Customers still lined up to place their orders, though they may have ventured into the air conditioning to actually eat.
Inside the trucks, though, the working conditions were less than ideal – open stoves, cramped kitchens and, more often than not, no air conditioning.
“We used to have a thermometer, but I think we broke it because it got so hot in here,” said Fynn Vazquez, an employee of dumpling truck Chirba Chirba.
Wednesday’s temperatures reached a high of 97 degrees, just a degree below the record high. With humidity averaging 65 percent, the head index surpassed 100 degrees, said Liz Horton, weather anchor and reporter at ABC11.
The Chirba Chirba truck pulled into the shadiest spot available at N.C. State’s Centennial Campus at lunchtime Wednesday. Others weren’t so lucky.
The OnlyBurger truck, parked a few spaces away, braved the sun with little to no shading. With no air conditioning in the truck and heat radiating off the grill, employees had to rely on a breeze.
“This will be a test today,” said Owen Ham, who works in the popular burger truck. “You get used to the temperature, though.”
At the Gateway Center, an office complex in Morrisville, the Hibachi Xpress truck also baked in the sun.
“Summer is definitely brutal,” said Kim Dean, an employee at Hibachi Xpress.
Although most trucks have kitchen fans for smoke control, the Deli-icious truck is one of the few with some electric fans for employees. It bought its third fan for this week’s heat wave.
Gussy’s Greek Street Food attempted to dodge the 96-degree heat at nearby Morrisville’s Aerial Center, as a never-ending line of faithful customers extended from the teal van.
Owner Gus Megaloudis kept a quick pace so customers don’t have to stand outside long.
“My wife’s ready to faint back here,” he said.
Emily Koehler said she comes faithfully to Gussy’s for its Greek salad.
“It’s still worth the wait,” she said. “I didn’t even think about the heat.”
Though summer proves harder on the body for food truck employees, colder weather is tougher on the wallet.
Becky Hacker, co-owner of Pie Pushers, said business in winter typically slows down more than in summer.
“It seems like the majority of food trucks are staying pretty busy from March until further into July,” she said.
Because oven temperatures in Pie Pushers can reach 650 degrees and there is no air conditioning, Hacker makes sure her employees take precautions.
“We make sure people take breaks with a longer shift, rotate our staff a little more and making sure we keep hydrated all the time,” she said.
Sometimes all you can do is laugh the heat off.
“We’re the ones in there sweating,” said Vazquez, of Chirba Chirba. “We try to make jokes about it.”
Bettis: 919-829-4520; Twitter: @whatakaracterBlack: 919-829-4835; Twitter: @j_black13