Temple University’s decision to hold classes remotely this school year has consequences for students, teachers, and also the small army of food trucks that usually feed them.
Since shutdowns due to COVID-19 were enforced starting in March 2020, a lot of these cult spots for students and citizens alike have closed their doors. The Crepe Truck on W Norris Street is one of the few still operating on the road. The Kyriazis family purchased a truck called The Creperie at Temple in 2013 and renamed it.
Penelope Kyriazis, the daughter of the owners Mr. and Mrs. Kyriazis, explained they had bought a new truck after eight years, just before the shutdowns, which was when their problems began.
“This truck is new though,” Kyriazis said. “We finished building it in 2019. And we brought it to campus, October 2019 and then 2020 hit and we had to close.”
With the closure of Temple’s campus, a large amount of business has left the area. Students were at home the rest of spring, and even come fall, a large number chose to study remotely.
“We thought, ‘Okay, we’re gonna close for two weeks and then reopen,’ just how the rest of the world thought, and then, obviously it wasn’t,” Kyriazis said.
The problem that is often overlooked with food trucks is their inability to move freely. For a permit at Temple University, a place the city has designated a “Special Vending District,” the initial cost is $3,105. Permits are awarded in a lottery.
Trucks that are given the permit may operate there, but nowhere else. This means that The Crepe Truck may only operate in the Temple University area, but even if there is no business, they can’t relocate.
After Temple’s decision to hold remote classes in the fall semester of 2020, after two weeks of in person classes, Kyriazis had a tough decision to make.
“That hurt us a lot,” Kyriazis said. “Not only did we not get half of what we would have gotten, we didn’t even get a quarter of what we would have gotten. I mean having a new food truck, me and my mom both have income from this job.”
Other vendors simply have not opened back up since the initial shutdown, like the neighboring truck Burger Tank.
With new restaurants like Chick-Fil-A and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Kyriazis says her and other truck owners are worried about how that will in turn effect business for her and other trucks around the area. She said it is easy for people to get the same thing they know and love from a chain, overlooking new possibilities that sit right on the curb for them. Kyriazis says the family was worried about opening in 2021, and though they have made it, the worry hasn’t yet subsided.
Temple University Junior Emma Keats said the feeling without the trucks is much different from what she remembers.
“It’s definitely like a ghost town,” Keats said. “It’s like the skeleton that remains, you know? There was once a lively owner inside the truck saying hello as you pass by, even if you didn’t stop for food. And now since no one’s there, it’s just like, it’s eerie.”