Let Your Food Keep on Trucking!
When you picture building your catering business, is the image more truck than tent? Is the kitchen more space-efficient mobile than stainless steel and spacious? Do you want to take your restaurant to the customers rather than getting the customers to your restaurant?
Welcome to the world of food trucks!
While often considered a relatively recent phenomenon, the mobile food industry has a long and tasty history in the U.S. As early as 1691, street vendors who sold food from push carts were required to follow local regulations in New York City (then known as New Amsterdam). The chuck wagon was invented by Charles Goodnight in 1866, and the nation's first diner-in-a-horse-drawn-freight-wagon debuted in 1872.
Boomers can well recall the hot summer days when the tinkling bells or cheerful tune of the ice cream truck would bring all activities to a sudden halt. And although the summoning bell and music has often been replaced by a tweet or text, today’s food truck has much the same effect on adults as the old-time ice cream truck had on kids—activities halt and mouths water.
And the potential variety of food choices for your business? Amazing! You can focus upon a single specialized food, a particular ethnic cuisine, bakery items or the equivalent of a high-end restaurant meal. You can cook from scratch on the truck, prepare add-ons to pre-prepared staples, or cook in advance at a commercial kitchen. You can eliminate the need for an expensive fixed restaurant location and deliver precisely what the customer wants to exactly the location they prefer.
But getting your mobile catering business off the ground requires more than the purchase or rental of a food truck. Consider the unique needs and risks pointed out by experts and past or current food truck operators:
- Food trucks require regular maintenance. In addition to the fuel, tires, oil, and general service or repair that any vehicle requires, food trucks also need specialized maintenance and repair for cooking, cooling and storage equipment.
- While there may be no fixed restaurant building rental, food trucks still need to be parked overnight. Parking space may be limited, highly sought after by other vendors, and require permits or rental payments.
- Food truck operations face unique challenges. How much cooking, if any, will be done on the truck? How much elsewhere? Where will that “elsewhere” be, and at what cost to finances and convenience? What are the health department inspection requirements for food prep?
- Inclement weather can affect business at even the best fixed location, but it has a greater effect on the staff and customers of a food-truck business.
- Employees who are willing and able to work effectively in often-cramped confines with limited cooking facilities in sometimes poor weather conditions can be a different breed to hire than those who are used to working in fixed location food services. And don’t forget driving experience and ability—a crucial food truck skill not even considered for many fixed location hires.
Food trucks have insurance needs that include those required of any catering business, but also those unique to a restaurant on wheels. The great news is you can focus on building your catering business and turn to your Trusted Choice® agent for the best in risk management and insurance products and services. Many agents even specialize in catering risks, including food trucks—or have access to resources that do. Before firing up your food truck, be sure to schedule a time with your Trusted Choice Agent® for a full review of your unique needs and put the proper protection in place.
Then let the great food roll!
What to Serve?
One key to the growing popularity of food trucks is the sheer variety of food offerings, from the simplest basics to the most unique preparations. According to consumer research, here, in order, are the six most popular items sold. Drum roll, please!
- Hot sandwiches.
- Mexican food.
- Cold sandwiches.
- Italian fare or pasta.