Starting a food truck business can be a way to break into work as a chef, a prelude to starting your own restaurant, or a profitable cooking-related venture on its own. It’s typically cheaper to start a food truck than to open a full restaurant, and you have more control over when and where you sell your food items.
Best Things to Cook and Sell from a Food Truck
The best food trucks tend to specialize, so before you decide to hit the road with your mobile kitchen, you need to decide what your theme will be. Trendy foods can be a big hit, but you could risk sales declining once the trend is over unless you change with the times. Some popular food truck trends right now include waffles, bacon-based food items, grilled cheese sandwiches, and specialty hot dogs.
Many food trucks focus on ethnic cuisines, so you could create a mobile menu based on Thai dishes, Mediterranean fare, French crepes, or the ever-popular taco truck theme. Some food trucks find success with lesser-known cuisines, especially in areas with adventurous eaters, so you might be able to make a name for yourself quickly if you sell authentic-style street foods from Korea, Russia, Armenia, or Peru.
Standbys like hamburgers, barbecue, and pizza are always in demand, and you can create unique versions for your more adventurous customers.
What You’ll Need to Start a Food Truck Business
Obviously, you’ll need a truck or cart if you want to start a food truck business. Kitchen equipment that lets you cook inside the truck is also essential. You’ll likely need food production and service permits for your area along with any business licensing required by your city or state. Separate parking permits might be needed, depending on your city, and your locality might require specific types of insurance for food truck operators. Permits and paperwork are often the most headache-inducing part of starting a food truck, according to most people who have done it before.
Make sure you have a marketing budget, as you’ll need to let people know who you are and where you plan to show up throughout the week or month.
Aside from the truck itself, you need a place to store and prep the food before it goes onto the truck. Propane and a generator cost money as well, and you need these to cook on your truck.
Potential employees you need include a cleaning crew, cooks and assistants, someone to do vehicle maintenance, a kitchen equipment maintenance crew, and a driver.
Financing a Food Truck Venture
Like any major venture, you need to finance your equipment and supplies before you get started. If you’re starting small, you might be able to handle all the cooking, driving, and selling with just a few people. (This makes food trucks an ideal family venture.) The cost of starting a food truck can range from $50,000 to 100,000. Starting with a trailer instead of a full truck can be a less expensive option, and you can always move up to a full truck once you’re up and running. You might be able to get financing, especially if you’re also putting your own money into the venture. Many people who start a food truck finance the entire thing themselves, using savings, investments, or retirement funds to bankroll their company.
How Much Does a Food Truck Make
Once you’ve got your food truck up and running, you can expect to make $1,000 or more per day.
Running a food truck isn’t for the faint of heart, but it can be a great way to channel your love of cooking into a profitable side venture or full-time career.