Austin food truck king Aftab Fichtenberg leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. He had just hung up the phone with the driver of one of his most popular trucks, Smug Hunger. The driver reports their food truck archrival Ahuzam Batista, purveyor of the second-largest fleet of food trucks in Austin, had launched a hail of rotten vegetables, fruit and trash at a line of food trucks run by Aftab.
Customers ran for cover as the sky darkened with smelly apples, oranges, tomatoes, carrots and various paper trash items before it pelted them on the head shoulders and upper body as it landed.
“This is all such BS going on here,” Aftab said. “That guy is going to get what’s coming to him. I didn’t scrape and scrimp for 10 years to buy the first food truck in Austin and build into a fleet only to have it torn down by this pipsqueak loser.”
It was the latest news from the frontlines of the Austin food truck wars, a battle that has been simmering for many years but has emerged in the last few months as a series of food fights, street battles, vandalized trucks and a vicious form of food truck demolition derby.
Just last week, two food trucks owned by Aftab double-teamed a new truck purchased by Ahuzam for his niche marketing effort called Cheesecake, Beefcake. The two trucks cornered the Cheesecake truck and rammed it several times as the driver attempted to retaliate by throwing large cheesecakes and beef products at his rivals. Ahuzam reports the truck is a total loss, and plans to take Aftab to court to regain his investment.
“These food truck wars have reached a fever pitch in the city of Austin, and I am here today to announce without equivocation that we will arrest and prosecute any food truck operator that launches, continues or re-establishes any rivalry with other food truck companies that results in street violence or any other type of problems,” said the Austin police chief in a hastily organized press conference earlier this week. “Austin is known for its great food, and we will not have food truck revolutionaries taking over the streets in some sort of misguided attempt to create a winner-take-all food truck war.”