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The Start Up Guide to Owning a Food Truck



Although the streets are now empty amid shelter in place and Covid-19, it wasn’t too long ago that food trucks lined our business districts and tourist destinations. Certainly, this pandemic has taken a toll on everyone in the foodservice industry and food trucks are no exception. But under the right circumstances, owning a food truck can be more profitable and less hassle than owning a restaurant. So, if you’re considering throwing your hat into the ring, now is the right time to begin planning.


While starting a Mobile Food Facility, or food truck, still requires a substantial amount of capital, it is generally less than the amount needed to start a traditional restaurant. And, with possibly less overhead expenses, there is a potential for greater profit as well. Begin your research by checking whether there is a demand in food trucks in your area. Be aware of the various local health ordinances and where trucks are allowed to park, especially on busy streets. For example, in San Francisco, food trucks must be parked at least seven feet away from fire hydrants.


Although mobility is a key advantage of owning a food truck, many trucks choose to park in the same spot everyday to service regular customers. Commuters going to work or grabbing a quick lunch often buy from the same truck parked near their office building. On the other hand, trucks serving tourists have more flexibility and can move around according to the weather or season. For example, a food truck parked next to a museum would probably garner more business than one parked near the beach on a rainy afternoon.


There are many similarities between fitting out a food truck with fitting out a traditional restaurant’s kitchen. Refrigerators, ovens, sinks and grills are among basic equipment for any foodservice provider. But the food truck also requires a generator to power the equipment. Find one which is portable, efficient and quiet. In addition, many food trucks work in conjunction with permanent facilities where all the food is pre-cooked and only needs reheating before serving.


Another crucial decision when planning your food truck is to consider what type of cuisine to serve. Popular menus include fusion food, healthy and organic plates, gourmet burgers, and regional cuisine. It’s important to choose a type of food that you or your chef is interested in and adept at cooking. Some food trucks also provide private catering services to subsidize business. For example, a private company might hire a truck for a few hours at a promotional carnival to provide their guests with free hot dogs or sandwiches.


When we see all those colorful and exciting photos of food trucks on Instagram, we’re reminded of how important your truck’s design is for marketing. Diners often patronize food trucks for the social collective experience and social media is a huge contributor to its success. Remember to update your social media with any changes in menus and locations to keep your devoted customers abreast of where you’ll be.