Is a Food Truck in Your Future?

pink food truck

The growth of the popularity of food trucks has been fast and furious since 2008. There are a number of reasons that have contributed to this amazing growth including the desire for local, artisan foods, the economy, and social media. No one can every fully understand what creates a trend — if they were predictable every new product that came on the market would be an overnight success. There is no doubt that whatever contributed to the rise of the food truck business has continued to fuel the fire. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

With the average consumer spending over $150.00 a week on eating out there’s no doubt that this can be a very lucrative business.

Benefits of a Food Truck Business

The most obvious benefit to a food truck is a lower overhead. Not only is it less expensive to get started with a mobile food business but the ongoing overhead is much less as well. There isn’t a building to rent or make payments on, there’s not the same sort of upkeep, and you’ll need fewer employees to keep it going. Ultimately that means that you can keep your prices lower than most restaurants can and you’ll be able to keep your quality higher than most fast food places. That’s a nice place to be!

Another benefit is the aspect of being mobile. A restaurant’s traffic can be affected by many events that they can’t control. Something as simple as a few days of roadwork outside may keep customers away. With a food truck there isn’t that sort of issue. If there is a problem in one area you are free to move on to a better spot. You are free to park outside the football stadium on the night of a big game and just as free to park in the office district the next afternoon. You take your food to the people rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Expand Your Restaurant’s Reach

Some restaurants are using trucks in addition to their brick and mortar location in order to help their business grow.  It allows them to reach an entirely new demographic, test new dishes easily, and even add catering. In one way it allows conventional restaurants to compete with fast food restaurants by providing a quick meal at a convenient location. In other words, it allows the restaurant to be more accessible to the public and gauge the interest of different types of customers.

The Cost of a Food Truck

According to Forbes you should expect to pay between $70 and $80,000.00 to get a food truck up and running. While that is a lot of money it isn’t nearly the $300,000.00 or more that it takes to get a restaurant off the ground.

Costs will include things like –

  • Permits
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Supplies
  • Insurance
  • Advertising
  • Employee salaries
  • Fuel
  • Vehicle maintenance and registrations

 What Kinds of Food to Serve?

People often think of unique foods when they think of food trucks, thanks in part to television shows. Two decades ago a customer didn’t expect much more than a cold sandwich or a greasy hamburger made with meat of a dubious origin but today’s food truck might serve anything from Asian fusion to classic French food.

The type of food you should serve is the type you have a passion for an are the best at cooking. If you love sushi there is no reason to have a cupcake truck no matter how popular cupcakes might be in your area. Keep your menu small — remember that you’ll have a small storage and prep area. Doing three things well is much more profitable than doing seven mediocre dishes.

Food Businesses Are a Lot of Work

Can you make it with a food truck? Can you generate enough income to make it a viable business?

You can. It is a lot of work like any other food related business whether catering, brick and mortar, or whatever. You will have to work long hours to get it established, create an Internet presence with a blog and social media, and work your way through miles of paperwork while you jump through your city’s particular set of hoops. You’ll need delicious food, an attractive truck, and an interesting menu. Even then there are no guarantees.

Still, a food truck is one way of achieving your dreams. Be sure to research the business in your area and familiarize yourself with the laws, permits, and licenses you’ll need. Talk to people who have successful food  trucks to get inside information — there’s nothing like experience! Take it slow, get advice along the way, and become part of the food truck community to give yourself the best chance of success.

Know Your Limitations

Is a food truck in your future?

Before you sink a lot of money into it sit down and think about your lifestyle, what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it. If you don’t handle stress well or have health related issues that could keep you from being able to work long hours on your feet then a food truck is probably not for you. Still, if it’s something you are physically able to do, if you enjoy providing people with unique, affordable dishes, and want to be on your own it could be exactly what you are looking for.

photo credit: Al Pavangkanan via photopin cc

- Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. Cooking, baking, and recipe development have been a major part of her life since she baked her first loaf of bread at age 13. Luckily, with a husband, eight children, a son in law, and three grandchildren she has enough test-tasters to handle the steady stream of experiments that come from her kitchen.

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