FARMINGTON — Jacqueline Klock of Dip N Chicken food truck is particularly proud of her most popular creation, "The Ripper."
It's a quarter-pound beef hot dog lying on a bed of fries, smothered in nacho cheese.
Jacqueline Klock and her husband, Randy, park their renovated motor home in Orchard Plaza on east Main Street on weekdays, selling steak fingers, chicken fingers and other deep-fried dishes. They're part of a growing number of food trucks in San Juan County, joining a nationwide trend of mobile restaurants that promise cheap, tasty food with a minimum hassle.
"It's the hottest thing going right now," said Randy Klock, who spent three months tearing apart the motor home and installing equipment, including a 40-pound deep fryer.
In Flora Vista, former construction equipment rental salespeople Anthony O'Gorman and JoJo Gomez reopened Red Solo Cup food truck in March after closing for the winter. O'Gorman and Gomez jumped into the food truck business after the equipment rental firm they worked for was bought by a larger company.
"I saw that as a go-ahead signal to go ahead and pursue my midlife crisis," O'Gorman said. "We hope it'll be a long-term thing. Ideally, if it works -- and we believe it will -- we would probably expand our hours. I've got all sorts of ideas -- I'd like to have music there and just make it a destination for people."
Food trucks have boomed in cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Portland, Ore. O'Gorman was inspired by food trucks on trips to Austin, Texas; Miami and Los Angeles.
"What we're trying to do, really, is emulate the food truck movement across the country," he said.
Red Solo Cup, 800 N.M. Highway 516, focuses on burgers, using beef from Sunnyside Meats of Durango, Colo., and potatoes from Navajo Agricultural Products Industry near Farmington.
"We're looking for a higher quality of food," O'Gorman said. "We're trying to do all that local kind of stuff."
Food trucks promise low overhead costs paired with immediate revenue. Many are operated only by the owners, with no additional employees necessary.
"You're independent, working for yourself," said Jacqueline Klock. "You have total freedom."
Randy Klock chimed in, "And you do make a dollar."
In Aztec, Kathy's Place offers Mexican food from a truck in a gravel lot alongside U.S. Highway 550. Workers there were too busy serving food to talk on Friday.
Regulating food trucks is a responsibility split by several governmental agencies.
Food trucks must pass restaurant inspections conducted by the New Mexico Environment Department.
Dip N Chicken, because it operates within Farmington city limits, also obtained a city of Farmington food catering/vending wagon and truck license.San Juan County CEO Kim Carpenter said the county has some ordinances that could be interpreted to apply to food trucks, but regulating the mobile businesses isn't a priority for code compliance officers.
"Right now, our guys probably really wouldn't mess with that," he said. "A lot of people out there are trying to make a go at things, and more power to them."
Food truck entrepreneurs must also work with property owners. Dip N Chicken is welcomed by Orchard Plaza's Los Angeles-based owner, who is supportive of food trucks, the Klocks said. They said food trucks attract people to eat who stay and patronize neighboring brick-and-mortar businesses.
Food trucks are using social media -- primarily Twitter and Facebook -- to attract customers and keep them abreast of the truck's changing locations.
"That is how the promotion is done in the food truck business," O'Gorman said. "Twitter and Facebook is where you would get people to follow you. You would post different ideas for menu items, and try and get feedback. We do have a lot of conversation on Facebook."
Cities that embrace food carts often concentrate them in pods. That's the next step, O'Gorman said.
"Farmington may not be quite ready for it yet, if you compare to Austin or some place like that, but it's got potential," he said.
O'Gorman was glad to hear of other food trucks in the area.
"The more, the merrier, because it gets people out to try the trucks," he said.
Customers seem to like the food truck concept, he said. That's reflected in the Red Solo Cup name, a nod to the Toby Keith song that celebrates the disposable party paraphernalia.
"There's a good vibe off of food trucks," he said. "It's kind of a fun thing."