Jose Garcia's Taco truck sits parked at its location near the Flint RiverQuarium downtown.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Jose Garcia loves a good taco, and he knows where you can get one.
He's the owner and proprietor of Garcia Taqueria, the only Mexican restaurant in Albany that gets an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon. And, for now, he's parked downtown.
"I've been in Albany about three years," Garcia says from inside his truck between customers. "I go to the flea markets and to the festivals and just wherever the city will let me. ... Now we're trying downtown."
Hardly a new phenomenon, food trucks have been a staple in larger cities for years, using their mobility to bring the food to those who wouldn't venture out to a restaurant.
Ross Resnick, founder of the all-things-food-truck website RoamingHunger.com, expects the proliferation of food trucks to continue throughout the nation. In an interview with the Nation's Restaurant News, he predicted that a growing number of food trucks will hit the streets in coming years.
"It's an industry that is in its infancy," said Resnick, whose website is one of the most thorough trackers of food truck growth. "It's a brand-new business."
Resnick said that since 2009, the number of trucks listed on the Roaming Hunger website has grown 710 percent to more than 2,300. And food truck growth is anticipated to reach another 260 percent by 2014, he said.
Some of the earliest food trucks hit the streets in California, which is where Garcia and the taco truck idea intersect.
"Before I came to Albany, I lived in California," he said. "I've been in a Mexican restaurant, and then I got the truck."
When Downtown Manager Aaron Blair posted about the truck on D'town Albany's Facebook page for "Taco Thursday," he didn't know the reaction it would create.
"It's was kind of funny. You had people going down there, posting photos about the taco truck," Blair said.
But, like everything else, there are issues associated with having a new eatery downtown -- mobile or not -- that Blair has to be cognizant of.
"We have to be aware of the impact it could have on our existing brick-and-mortar restaurants if we have an unhindered flow of food trucks downtown," Blair said. "So we need to make sure that we have some guidelines that make sure everyone has an opportunity to succeed so that we don't create too much competition."
Blair said that since Garcia moved downtown this week, he's gotten calls from other people who want to set up their mobile kitchens downtown as well; a stark contrast to the recent headlines touting the exodus of two of the major players in the downtown restaurant scene, Riverfront Barbecue and Cafe 230.
In fact, Riverfront has been trying out its own mobile kitchen near the Albany Mall, occupying a part of a vacant parking lot off North Westover Boulevard.