Iconic Texas-based QSR chain Whataburger announced this week it has upped its off-premises game with a 36-foot-long food truck that will take a multi-state tour in 2021.
The forthcoming Whataburger food truck will be a totally mobile kitchen the chain says has “the same kind of burger-making power as a brick-and-mortar restaurant.” Whataburger developed it in partnership with Cruising Kitchens, a well-known food truck manufacturer that has made mobile kitchens for everyone from Hard Rock Cafe to the LA Dodgers.
Whataburger also says the truck can be used for disaster relief, and honestly in this day and age it isn’t hard to imagine the company reformatting the truck at some point to serve frontline healthcare workers or communities impacted by, say, a hurricane.
The truck will “tour” U.S. cities where Whataburger already has a presence, as well as those the chain is planning to expand too. That’s in keeping with the general aim of ghost kitchens, which a growing number of QSRs are using to reach customers in new markets or serve more off-premises orders in existing ones.
While there’s undeniably something fun about a bright orange touring burger truck, it’s also a fairly practical move on the part of Whataburger. Like other chains, it’s had to pivot more of its business to off-premises over the last several months as well as increase its capabilities around mobile ordering. It’s currently operating dining rooms with limited seating, but with the trajectory of the coronavirus still uncertain (and still rising), it’s not unreasonable to think dining rooms might have to shut down in full again before this is all over.
While it’s not technically a ghost kitchen, the forthcoming food truck more or less serves the same purpose, which is to help the chain reach a wider audience and keep operations going even in the face of unprecedented global crises. According to this week’s announcement, Cruising Kitchens founder Cameron Davies has wanted to build a food truck for more than a decade. With the restaurant industry sitting squarely at the crossings of off-premises, ghost kitchens, and more mobility, now seems the perfect time for a test drive.
Note: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that Cameron Davies was CEO of Whataburger.