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Reader Asks How to Start a Food Truck Business

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Reader Asks How to Start a Food Truck Business

A food truck is an affordable alternative to opening a new restaurant.

Edsel L.
Question: Reader Asks How to Start a Food Truck Business
Dear Lorri, The company I work for recently downsized and now I’m looking for a new job. I’ve been thinking of starting a food truck business. I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant and this seems like a step in the right direction. I found a decent pre-owned food truck that was used to sell sandwiches and soups. Beyond buying the truck, I’m not sure what else I need to do to get my business up and running. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Dave J.

Answer: Dear Dave, The idea of selling food along the roadside has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. Food trucks themselves have evolved from ice cream cones and hotdogs to a host of different cuisine, ranging from simple grilled cheese to the world’s most expensive burger, offered up by food truck 666 in New York City.

Buying the food truck is the biggest investment you’ll make in this venture. Lots of successful restaurants spring out of a food truck business. Of course, lots of successful businesses are food trucks. Check out these 10 gourmet food trucks for some inspiration. Food trucks offer a lot of perks over a traditional restaurant, including low overhead, smaller start-up costs, low labor and you can go to where the customers are.

Write Your Food Truck Menu

The next step, after buying your truck is to write your menu. Food should be suitable for preparing ahead of time. It should be affordable, but doesn’t have to be cheap or on par with standard fast food. Some unique food truck menu concepts include gourmet breakfast meals, organic fare including organic ice cream sandwiches and Bollywood inspired Indian street food. Once you have your menu written, you’ll need a menu board and to-go menus for customers to take with them. You will also have to decide if your menu will be the same every day or rotate with daily specials

Stock Your Food Truck

Even if you land a modestly priced used food truck, you will still need to make sure it is going to meet your needs. If you plan to serve hot food, such as pizza, burgers, or other fried foods, you will need a oven and fryolator. If you plan to sell pre-made sandwiches, then you will need ample cooler space. Outfitting a food truck is much like designing a commercial restaurant kitchen.

Make Your Food Truck Business Legal

Find out where you can set up shop. Certain areas aren’t zoned for food trucks. Next have your insurance, license and other permits in order. Running a business, you need to keep good records and a food truck is no exception. Read on for more about restaurant legal basics.

Spread the Love of Your Food Truck

The key to a successful food truck business, along with great food, is marketing. The good thing about a food truck is that it's a rolling advertisement on wheels. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some advertising and marketing of your business. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are perfect for building a good customer base. You can twitter in the morning where your food truck is heading, to let followers know ahead of time.

If you goal is to one day own your own restaurant, building a successful food truck business is a step toward that goal. It will demonstrate to future investors that you are capable of building a business from scratch and have what it takes to be a restaurant owner.

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