Starting a food truck can be a much faster, and cheaper way of entering into the foodservice business than establishing a traditional brick and mortar restaurant. A mobile food eatery holds many advantages as it generally requires less employees to operate and you have the versatility of bringing to the food to wherever the customers are. But despite its appeal opening your own food truck or cart can still be quite an endeavor. It’s crucial to take the proper steps to ensure that you business can operate smoothly.
- Getting Approved: The rules and regulations for operating food trucks varies widely from state to state. Some states don’t even allow food trucks while other have a limit on the number that can operate at the same time. You’ll also want to find out what areas of town you will be permitted to park and during what hours, what distance your are required to be from brick and mortar restaurants and whether you can prepare fresh foods on board or if you will have to prep in a separate kitchen. If any of these rules and regulations are violated the city can impose hefty fines. Once you have familiarized yourself with all of this information be sure to fill out all of the proper paperwork to get your permits and licenses.
- The Menu: Today's food trucks have branched out past traditional hot dogs to turn out higher quality foods at a bargain price. Many popular food truck menus feature cultural and themed food such as Asian, Indian, seafood and vegan. Check out our blog to see what creative food truck owners are coming up with. Be sure that your menu is simple and easy to prepare, usually featuring one staple dish to attract customers to your brand. Food trucks are meant to be fast so you don't want any dishes that will cause customers to wait very long.
- Initial Cost: Once you've set your menu you can determine what equipment you need in your truck or trailer. A used food truck can cost as low as $20,000 while building a new model can cost over $100,000. To build a new truck you will most likely need to consult a mobile food truck designer company. If the expense is still too high a food cart can be another great alternative at the fraction of the price of a fully equipped food vehicle. You will also need to take into account the amount you money you want to invest in marketing and promoting your business. You can read more about using social media to market your food truck here.
- Budgeting: After calculating your initial expenses its critical to stick to a set budget. In addition to potential kitchen equipment repairs you must take into account the added expense of vehicle maintenance. Its important to always have an emergency fund for unexpected drops in business, due to weather. Depending on your location you may only want to operate during certain times of the year and should consider other alternative to bring in revenue during the off season.
For more information about starting your own food truck see our blog post. JES Restaurant Equipment has helped outfit many mobile food trucks and is a proud partner and provider of cooking equipment and supplies for Custom Concessions.