SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It has been about a month since Elie Ghanem opened That Lebanese Place on Glenstone Avenue just north of Chestnut Expressway. Inside the kitchen on wheels, Ghanem and his family make Middle Eastern food fresh every day. He estimates he has served about 1,500 customers in four weeks.
"We just drove by and saw the cart and did a U-turn and came back and talked to the lady and said we would be back. We didn't think it would be this soon, but it was convenient," said Mary Ventress, a first-time customer at the vendor on Tuesday.
While it's convenient for customers, it's a more affordable way to test the restaurant waters for Ghanem.
"I was afraid to get into a big-debt, full-blown restaurant and, if it doesn't take off, I'll be stuck with it," said Ghanem.
According to city officials, more concession trailers tend to open during the warmer months.
There are 67 temporary vendor sites, but the number of actual businesses occupying those slots fluctuates rapidly, said Chris Straw, the city's director of building and development services.
While some owners move on to a brick and mortar business, others like the flexibility of the trailers.
"With this you can pick it up and take it somewhere and like different events, and it's a lot more handy than being limited to a store unit," said Victoria Simpson, an employee of Pineapple Whip.
As for Ghanem, he plans to open a Lebanese restaurant in Springfield soon, because of the success he has had with his mobile kitchen.
"But I'm not getting rid of this. I like it. I like the concession trailer," said Ghanem.
The food trailers have to meet the same safety and health standards as regular restaurants.