Think of a food truck as a commercial kitchen on wheels. You’ll need designated cooking, refrigeration, storing, and serving areas and find ways to utilize every inch of space. Operating a food truck comes with one-time startup costs such as buying the truck itself, a point-of-sale (POS) system, truck wrap, website and app, and any legal or licensing fees.
Getting your hands on a food truck is the biggest challenge when getting started. Luckily, there are several options for finding the right food truck for your business and budget. You could negotiate a lease agreement with someone who owns a food truck or runs a food truck for a successful restaurant. Depending on the type of food truck you are planning, you could start small with a low-cost, second-hand cart or trailer. You can find affordable used trucks in local and national online classifieds.
Prep and Storage Areas
You’ll need enclosed storage with secured doors for all paper, dry, and non-perishable goods. Built-in prep tables with food-safe surfaces like stainless steel make great use of space.
Refrigeration, Stoves, and Grills
All coolers, freezers, commercial ovens, grills, and deep fryers need to be bolted in place to prevent them from moving when driving. They also need the proper ventilation and electrical outlets, and a hood with a fan and sprinkler system.
The best way to outfit your food truck with commercial kitchen equipment is to buy used equipment in good condition from an online auction. The Restaurant Warehouse provides a wide range of high quality used restaurant equipment at budget-friendly prices. You can find freezers, dishwashers, ice machines, slicers, mixers, pans, and more with food truck functionality. They finance restaurant equipment from top manufacturers of commercial refrigeration products and offer free shipping on all orders.
Mobile POS Options
It’s up to you to choose what payment method to accept, as different methods of processing sales come with different expenses. Taking cash-only sales comes with no ongoing costs, but it doesn’t track sales or food inventory. Taking cash and credit card sales comes with ongoing credit and debit card processing fees and mobile data fees. You’ll need wifi and a decent data plan to operate a mobile processor, including a simple inventory system. Taking cash and credit card sales through a POS system comes with a monthly POS service fee, card processing, hardware, and mobile data fees. You’ll be able to process card transactions while tracking sales and inventory.
Food Truck Health and Safety
Your food truck will need to pass a fire and safety inspection before issuing a license or permit. The inspection is based on your local ordinances and includes a fire extinguisher, a sprinkler system, fire alarms, and food-safe surfaces on walls and floors.
You can consult the local health department to learn what food safety requirements you need to comply with. Some states require food trucks to have a seller’s permit, and you will want to research zoning and parking restrictions to know exactly where you are allowed to set up. All workers will need to be trained and licensed to operate the food truck as it’s a vehicle. Depending on the state, you may need a commercial driver’s license to operate the food truck legally.
You’ll need an employer identification number (EIN) if you intend to hire employees, and it’s necessary to open a business bank account and establish a business credit history. You’ll need a DBA and state sales tax permit as well as other state licenses to operate a food truck.
Equipping a food truck isn’t an extravagant undertaking considering it’s not as big as a commercial kitchen, even though it functions like one. You’ll need the proper kitchen equipment necessary to prepare your menu and store your ingredients, a way to process sales transactions, and the proper health, safety licenses and permits to operate.