How To Survive the Food Truck Business

Burger Vending Trailers - Food Truck Parks

Here’s an informative read by Katharine Jacobs for EatOut.co.za on how to survive the food truck business.

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Fad or opportunity: 8 ways to survive in the food truck business

There’s no doubt that food trucks are popular. In the last few years, the number of hip, fitted out food trucks has ballooned from 20-odd to over 65. Our annual roundup is consistently one of the most-read stories on our site – and food truck-related news – like the recent opening of Good and Proper food truck park in Sandton – goes instantly viral. But running a food truck is no picnic – especially in the long winter months. We chatted to several food truckers around the country to find out how they make the business work for them.

1. Find a regular spot
Being in the same place at the same time each week will help you to build up a customer base. Didi from Didi’s Bitchin Burritos in Cape Town says that their daily trading spot at the Salt Circle Arcade in Woodstock has been integral to their business. “Salt Circle keeps our operation continually busy,” says Didi, who finds things slow down when they rely only on events. That said, finding a steady spot can be difficult. “It would be incredible to have a few dedicated spaces in and around the Cape Town CBD area where we could have a few alternating food trucks to serve directly to the public,” says Didi.

Richter and Sam from Wahine, who operate every Friday at Black River Park in Observatory, agree. “Black River Park have been so good to us since the beginning,” says Richter. But, say the couple, local policies are not geared in truckers’ favour: “One can apply for a hawkers license, but the regulations dictate that the vehicle being used must fit into a standard parking bay. Most food trucks are too big to fit into the space”. He’s eager for the city to reevaluate old laws to be more like the American system where they’re granted roaming licenses that enable them to reach more informal trade.

2. Supplement income with private parties
Weddings, music festivals and events can be a lucrative market – but choose carefully. “Some organisers are very fair and charge a 10% fee of total turnover,” explain Richter and Sam. Other events demand that traders pay astronomical fees upfront. “One event is asking approximately R15,000 upfront, plus they are penalising traders heavily if they run out of stock. Yes, granted, there is opportunity to earn good money, but as a lot of us are small business owners, such demands can be a heavy burden on the cash flow of the business. After all, we are there to add value to events,” say the couple. Other food truckers warn against showing up for events like trance parties, where younger crowds are prepared to spend much less on food.

3. Train your staff
Staff salaries can drastically reduce the profitability of the business, so be prepared to remain hands-on. Huseyin Batkin, who ran a Middle Eastern food truck in Cape Town from November 2014 to January 2016, points out that food truck visitors are also after an authentic experience. So being there yourself, or training staff to live the brand, can help. The Wahine team has focused on staff development and found that helping staff learn crucial skills can be very rewarding. One of their first staff members has now gone on to open her own trailer.

4. Find a reliable van
Tacokombi’s Valjean Joubert jokes that their biggest struggle is wondering whether their old cars are going to make it to the venue or break down en route. But it really is important to make your truck as portable as possible. Didi says having a truck that can be set up in almost any car park has increased their options in terms of location drastically.

5. Learn as much as you can
Huseyin Batkin saw his time running a Middle Eastern food truck in Cape Town as a stepping-stone to opening his own restaurant. He’s since opened SHEGO in Green Point. “After serving food for over a year to the public at different events, we got to learn a lot about what people want, and about suppliers and competition. My advice – listen to everyone’s advice but make your own decisions in the end”. Of course, restaurants built with bricks and mortar are not everyone’s ultimate goal. “Would you eat cyanide?” responds Valjean of Tacokombi when asked whether they’d ever consider opening a restaurant.

6. Keep it simple
Huseyin served only three items: chicken, lamb, or falafel wraps with homemade toppings. This helped to keep food costs down, and quality up. Also consider how you can open up your truck to appeal to more people. Can you offer Halaal food? Do you have a vegetarian option? A wheat-free option? A banting option? You can’t be all things to all people, but picking one or two will help expand business.

7. Make friends with your fellow truckers
With allies, or by planning to share a spot so there’s someone to cover each day of the week, you’re more likely to be able to make a spot into a destination. Plus, as Julia Child told us, people who love food are always the best people. “When we meet people that are as passionate about food as we are, it’s always a bonus,” say the Wahine team.

8. Reap the rewards
There are, of course, great positives to running a food truck. Apart from Mondays (Valjean’s favourite day), truckers say they absolutely love working for themselves. “It affords us the free time to be able to grow amazing veg and herbs for our customers on our plot, and chill with our two Korean ginger cat children that we adopted whilst living in South Korea,” say the Wahine team. It also means they can provide for their cat children.”

A day in the life…

Masterton Coffee Vending Trailer - Kitchen Food Trailers

“In his book, The Food Truck Handbook: Start, Grow and Succeed in the Mobile Food Business, author David Weber offers step-by-step advice on developing, starting and operating a successful food truck business. In this edited excerpt, Weber details some of the challenges inherent in running a mobile food business.”

Mobile Food Mogul – Source of this article – The Entrepreneur

Burger Vending Trailers - Food Truck Parks

“I get about three to four e-mails a day from people looking to open food trucks. People who are passionate about food and weighed down by an office job are often attracted to the promise of freedom that owning a food truck seems to convey. While the concept of owning a food truck looks like a carefree way to cruise around the city and make a lot of cash on a sunny day, the reality is much different.

Food truck entrepreneurs often work on their trucks on a daily or near-daily basis. Some aspire to grow their businesses and move out of the daily operations as they build a fleet of trucks or settle into a brick-and-mortar establishment.

But regardless of your goals, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your truck. To service just the lunch shift could easily require a 10-hour day, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., including prep and end-of-day cleaning. To make ends meet, some trucks run breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with load-in starting at 4 a.m. and not ending until 2 a.m.

The day begins at the commissary. It’s the home of your truck, tools, and food: everything you need to run the operation, likely in an industrial district outside of town, where the rent is cheaper. You’ll need to arrive two to four hours before you plan to serve. If you’re hoping to serve lunch at 11 a.m., your team will have to be at the commissary by 8 a.m. to have enough time to prep, and you’ll want to arrive earlier to do administrative work.

The first thing you’ll need to do is prep food for that day. Food trucks generally have small kitchens, so anything you do before you hit the road can speed up your service and allow you to carry more. Many trucks employ a prep team that just prepares food.

Once your food is in order, check out the truck and see if it’s ready for the day’s shift. Run through a checklist to ensure that nothing unexpected has happened overnight. You’ll need to consider the day’s location and what the sales might be before you load up.

If you are vending on the street, allow extra time in your morning routine. In any city, there is always a lot of competition for street parking, but there is even more competition for good street-vending locations. In the worst-case scenario, the whole day can be lost due to lack of a parking spot, so scout a number of possible spots in advance.

Once you’re parked, it’s prep time. Make sure to count the cash in the register before the start of the shift, and be ready to run to the bank if you need smaller bills. By 11 a.m., you should be ready to open and begin serving your customers.

It’s not hard to fall behind on orders, have machines malfunction, run out of smaller bills and have to run to the bank, and encounter other unforeseen dilemmas. All of these are problems that are easily dealt with, as long as you and your team keep your cool.

Once the lunch rush is over and the shift starts winding down, it’s time to clean up and head back to the commissary, and get the truck ready for the next shift.

The busy lunch shift is just a fraction of the operation. There are hours of training, preparation, lifting, cleaning, and transportation. It means long days of waking up early to oversee food prep in the morning and late nights checking on the cleanliness of the truck after a shift.

Food trucks break down a lot. And when they break down, everything stops. Besides the cost of repairs, waiting a week for the fix while you can’t work (and therefore lose income) is unbearably stressful. Add to that the stress of your employees calling and being upset that their shifts have been canceled and the fact that all the food in the commissary’s fridge is going to go bad while your truck is in the shop.

One of the most challenging aspects is that the business is not easily scalable. Trucks are generally pretty small operations with one to three people on board at a time. They don’t generate enough revenue to support managers, so they require very well trained and competent employees.

You need to be ready to embrace the life of a peddler, which requires a level of dedication that many underestimate. The quickest road to success is operating the truck yourself and making a full-time commitment to oversee the business. Being on the truck will also give you the opportunity to define and articulate the brand personally to your customers.

There is money to be made in mobile food, but food trucks are not a get-rich-quick scheme. Food trucks offer lower capital costs, so it is easier to get started than a brick-and-mortar restaurant. However, the core economic foundations must be in place. If making a million dollars is your goal, food trucks might not be the best route to achieve your dreams.”

 

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Kitchen Food Trailers offers the best kitchen trailers on the market.

Fully weatherproof and insulated materials are used to manufacture the ultimate Kitchen Vending Trailers! Easy to clean and maintain and at the same time look awesome!

We design & manufacture any Kitchen Trailer that you and your business requires. From 2m long to 8m long, from 1,2m wide to 2,4m wide and 1.8m high to 2.5m high. Any size Kitchen Trailer, as many serving hatches as you require, gas storage compartments, ventilation hatches, windows, generators etc. We kit our Kitchen Vending Trailers with all necessary components for example, Interior Lighting, Plug Points, Cooking Equipment, Signage or Company Branding. You dream it, we design it & together we create it.

We will custom build any kitchen trailers to suit our customers needs.

 

 

Street Food Festivals

Imbuzi Cafe - Food Vending Trailer

South Africa is really getting into the swing of street food and Street Food Festivals.  Below is some information about the Street Food Festival taking place later this year (please visit the website for more details)

Also we have some interesting articles regarding some festivals that have already taken place.  Enjoy the read and get inspired to take your food trailer business further!

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STREET FOOD FESTIVAL ZA 2018
The Street Food Festival will pay homage to our food culture by dishing up authentic South African street foods pavement-style. The festival features a food market of local talent, live music and crate talks geared towards food entrepreneurs. Date – 1-9 September 2018

Toasties - Food Trailer. Food vending trailers

It’s all about real food at the Visa Street Food Festival =- Article sourced at Food 24
This article first appeared in City Press. by: Grethe Kemp | 03 Sep 2017

Forget overpriced hipster sandwiches or convoluted fine dining, the Visa Street Food Festival happening in Cape Town and Joburg is about providing real, down-to-earth dishes to the crowds. Grethe Kemp delved into the thinking behind the fest.It’s in full swing in Cape Town, and next weekend the annual Visa Street Food Festival will be taking over Maboneng in Joburg.

Started as a World Capital Design Project, the festival has been running for four years and focuses on filling, delicious street food free of pretence.

Festival creator Hannerie Visser says it’s all about celebrating this underrated genre of food.

“When I looked at everything that was happening in South Africa – there were so many expos focusing on fine-dining food experiences, but nobody actually focused on street food,” she says. “Street food is something that is eaten every day by billions of people all over the world. And it’s such a special food to me because it’s so humble and nobody was celebrating that.”

The vendors at the festival were carefully chosen to reflect this idea.

“We felt it was really important to provide authentic street food. We didn’t necessarily want something that was supercool or supertrendy or the latest thing on Bree Street, for example. It needed to be real, authentic street food that you could get anywhere in the world on the side of the street. So, we didn’t want ‘gourmet’ boerewors rolls, for example, we wanted the real deal.”

Some of the vendors at the Joburg leg of the festival will be Black Mamba, a Swazi family business that sells chilli products, The Gatsby Station, who will be selling the beloved snack out of a 1965 Land Rover Forward Control Food Truck named Jimmy, and Lotsha Jozi Jerk, who will be selling jerk chicken with all the condiments.

“I think we’re getting better at it in South Africa, but we often look at the US or Europe when we do things. And we often don’t look at our own continent. So, it was really important for me to push local food in terms of the vendors we chose,” says Visser.

One of the features she’s most excited about is the Pimp My Street Kitchen project. This was a crowdfunding campaign by ad agency Being Frank, where they set out to design shopfronts for three street-food vendors. The uptake was so good that they ended up providing branded, fully functional mobile kitchens to the three women.

With the project now complete, the kitchens of vendors Alitha Ndlovu, Johamma Ramufhi and Busi Khumalo will debut at the festival.

“The first market they will ever trade at is the Joburg leg of the Visa Street Food Festival,” says Visser proudly.

Ali’s Kitchen will be serving curried walkie-talkies with toasted dombholo (dumpling bread) and Cheezy Pap Pops, Busi’s Kitchen will be serving deep-fried magwinya (vetkoek) with mince meat, deep-fried magwinya with boiled egg and atchar and deep-fried magwinya with jam and cheese, while Lady Jo’s Kitchen will be serving mleqwa (Cornish chicken) and dombholo served with ithanga (squash), morogo (spinach) and chakalaka with a vegetarian option without the chicken.

Another aspect of the festival will be Crate Talks. With crate seating set up in the heart of the festival, people will be able to listen to free talks from renowned foodies and industry experts – and it’s all for free.

“Previously we had people pay separately to go into this mini conference that’s aimed at food entrepreneurs and everyone who wanted to start a food business. This year we decided to make it free.”

Crate Talk speakers at the Joburg leg will include the owner of Cape Malay restaurant Mamasan, Dawood Petersen; social entrepreneur Gary Kurt Smith, who started and urban farm called the Kotze Rooftop Garden Project; as well as married couple Jako and Dené van Deventer, who are behind cheese food truck, The Rogue Cheddar.

To top it all off, musical entertainment at the Joburg leg will include Mr Mo, DJ Okapi, Maria McCloy and Uncle Party Time.

“Everyone who loves food is welcome,” says Visser. “And there’s going to be a lot of it, so come hungry.”

The Visa Street Food Festival took place at Side Street Studios in Woodstock, Cape Town. The Joburg leg happened at Staib Street in Maboneng.

The Mean MachinesFood and The Fabulous 

Food trucks have come into their own in South Africa. Our trucks are the direct descendants of the food trucks in the U.S, that evloved out of a need to save on overheads during the 2007 recession, and offer creative, affordable food. These modern machines, often kitted out with fully fitted kicthens, will spend the year serving customers at designated parking lots, on roadsides or roving at private functions and big-name festivals.

The newer trucks operate on the premise of providing good food (think: smoked pulled pork sandwiches, healthy falafel salads or even risotto and pasta dishes) quickly and cheaply. Luca Castiglone, former restaurant owner and head of the informal Food Truck Association, runs the very popular Limoncello truck in Cape Town. When the truck appears at an event or show, customers can expect anything from seared tuna burgers to calzone and mussels, usually prepared in a Southern Italian fashion.

Stellenbosh restaurant Overture’s lauded chef, Bertus Basson owns the truck Die Wors Rol, a regular at markets and smaller shows. It serves top quality hot dogs and hot dog buns smothered in standout homemade relishes.

It’s certainly a drawcard when a popular restaurant like Cape Town’s El Burro ventures into the food truck business, serving well-loved favourites in ready-to-go portions. The El Burro red truck with a distinctive retro design that serves tacos with fresh salsas, ceviche, chilli rellenos and changing specials, is poised to enter the festival sphere in the new year and falls onto our ‘one to watch’ list.

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Kitchen Food Trailers offers the best kitchen trailers on the market.

Fully weatherproof and insulated materials are used to manufacture the ultimate Kitchen Vending Trailers! Easy to clean and maintain and at the same time look awesome!

We design & manufacture any Kitchen Trailer that you and your business requires. From 2m long to 8m long, from 1,2m wide to 2,4m wide and 1.8m high to 2.5m high. Any size Kitchen Trailer, as many serving hatches as you require, gas storage compartments, ventilation hatches, windows, generators etc. We kit our Kitchen Vending Trailers with all necessary components for example, Interior Lighting, Plug Points, Cooking Equipment, Signage or Company Branding. You dream it, we design it & together we create it.

We will custom build any kitchen trailers to suit our customers needs.

How much does a food truck cost?

Here’s a great article if you are thinking of buying a food truck.  The information is from America but can basically be translated for the South African market too.

The source of this article is Open For Business  by Olivia Terenzio

“How Much Does a Food Truck Cost? The short answer: about $50,000 on the low end, at least in California. The long answer: it can cost much, much more to actually get a food truck business off the ground — depending on who you are, where you are, and what your goals may be.

Food trucks have been a source of growing interest for the food and restaurant industry, and for good reason. First-time entrepreneurs will find a much lower barrier of entry to the business starting a food truck than they would with a brick-and-mortar restaurant, since the costs are more affordable and you don’t need a strong business background. On the flip side, many successful restaurant groups are now looking at food trucks as opportunities to more successfully service their internal catering needs and serve as a marketing vehicle for their restaurants.

We talked to Matt Cohen, founder and CEO of Off the Grid, a network of gourmet mobile food trucks that hosts weekly markets at various locations throughout the Bay Area. Here are 12 things you need to get a food truck up and running, with Matt’s estimated price ranges for each (based on typical costs in the Bay Area).

Here is a summary below – to read the full article, visit Open For Business 

Business Plan
Truck
Commercial Kitchen
Truck Commissary
Health Permit
Route Plan
Staffing
Menu
Audience
Social Media and Marketing
Network
Sense of Humour”

Food Trucks - Mobile Food Business

If you are interested to see what our costs are, please give us a call and we can discuss our custom made food trucks and trailers with you!

Cape Town’s Food Truck Friday

Food Truck Friday - Cape Town

The popular street-food soirée is back, with double the food-truck fun.

Jack Black’s Brewing Co, one of SA’s leading craft-beer producers, is back with its popular Food Truck Friday, in partnership with mobile food kitchens. The concept, first launched in the States, has been garnering popularity and has certainly been well-received here in Cape Town since its initial 15 July launch.

As ever, Jack Black’s Tasting Room is the perfect indoor venue for this event, with its industrial-chic decor and furnishings, which were made from the packaging used to transport the brew house from Germany.

BEATS, BURGERS & BEER

Not only will there be live entertainment courtesy of JPson and Llevado, but you can also expect some excellent grub from Tailgate Food (decadent flame grilled grub) and Food Glorious Food (awesome burgers, prego rolls and slaw). That’s a whole lot of deliciousness that you can pair with one of Jack Black’s craft beers: pale ale, amber ale, India pale ale and pre-prohibition style lager.

The next edition of this event looks to be just as exciting as the previous ones, and it looks as if Food Truck Friday is going to be a regularly monthly event on the last Friday of the month.

DIARISE THESE DATES FOR UPCOMING FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY EVENTS

29 December 2017
26 January 2018
23 February 2018
30 March 2018
27 April 2018

 

Source – The Inside Guide

 

Food Truck Fridays in South Africa!

  • With the amazing culinary foods that have come out of the food truck industry, we at Amped Events are proud to introduce a monthly pop up showcase of food trucks from across the country.

    Come and experience the amazing delights from some of the best food trucks in the business with special appearances from local craft beers, craft gin and many more while enjoying the subtle sounds of live music.

    – Entry if free but ticketing fees will apply
    – Important to note that space is limited
    – No pets allowed
    – No alcohol to U18’s
    – T&C Apply
    – Regret, no refunds allowed
    – R.O.A.R
    – All rights reserved

    Amped Events reserve the right to cancel / postpone the event at any given time.

    Communication with attendees shall be maintained at all times and appropriate measures and refunds will apply for all those affected.

    Refund Policy:

    No refunds are offered on tickets purchased
    Tickets are transferable.

    For more information or trading enquiries please contact:

    welove@ampedevents.co.za or +27 76 797 5137

 

Source – Food Trucks In SA

2018: Goals To Focus On If You Own A Food Truck

Food Truck Food - Kitchen Food Trailers

There are many different things people need to focus on if they plan on seeing success, and food truck owners are, of course, no different.

In fact, there are a million different things mobile kitchen owners have to focus on — you know, since they are running their own businesses.

With that said, if food truck owners focus on the five things below in 2018, then they will most definitely achieve an overwhelming amount of success.

First And Foremost, Their Food Trucks

You, of course, need to focus on your food truck. This is your business. Your livelihood. Your baby. You’ve sunk a lot of money into this venture, and not only that … but it is your dream job. So you, more likely than not, know you need to focus on your food truck, but the point of this step is to not get complacent by going through the motions.

If you really want to see some success at your food truck, then you will become a goal-oriented person, and all of these goals (at least many of them) will revolve around your food truck. What are you doing right now to make your food truck business money? Always ask yourself that in 2018.

The Numbers

What do we mean by the numbers? Simple. Your sales. Your inventory. How much money you have in the bank. How much you can afford to pay employees. How much you can afford to pay yourself. How much you can charge for food items. How much you should charge at catering gigs.

The more you know about your numbers, the more you will know about the status of your food truck.

The Happiness Of Their Employees, And Themselves

Food truck owners need to worry about the happiness of their employees … and themselves. This is your dream job, and don’t you think you should do everything in your power to make the people involved in your dream job happy?

While not every employee is going to share the same passions and dreams as you, you can still make your food truck environment fun in hopes of keeping morale up.

And, of course, you need to keep your mind, body and soul happy if you are going to be a food truck owner for the long haul. Take more walks in 2018. Learn how to handle your stress. Don’t just keep everything inside. Figure out solutions to your problems and your food truck’s problems. Give this life everything you’ve got, and try to be the happiest — and most successful — version of yourself.

One Major Goal

You can have as many goals as you would like, but we think you should definitely have one major goal for 2018. If this goal happened, it would, ideally, change your life in a big way. What type of goal would do that for you? What goal is going to take you, your business, your happiness, your success, etc., to the next level?

The cool part is you can form a bunch of smaller goals around this one big goal. Figure out something major you want to achieve. For example, it could be opening up a second food truck, or opening your first food truck if you are an aspiring mobile kitchen owner.

Friends, Family And Their Own Sanity

If you want to be the person you were meant to be, and if you also want to be the happiest version of yourself, then you need to have a balanced life. For example, you can’t simply work your life away, and you also can’t spend all of your time having fun/not making goals come true. You need to find a happy medium, and part of that should deal with you focusing on your relationships and yourself.

We understand how busy food truck owners can be, but even a five-minute phone call to a loved one can benefit you and this loved one. It’s not always easy to keep your sanity in this industry when you are putting in double-digit hours six to seven days a week, but you still need to find time for your friends and family, because that will not only help you keep your own sanity but it will also help you achieve the feat that is having a well-rounded life.

There are plenty of things to focus on, but food truck owners should consider the five things above throughout 2018.

 

Source – FoodTruckr

4 Things to Consider When Building a Food Truck for Your 2018 Business

f you are about to start a food truck business, get ready for a fun-filled wild ride steeped in reward and adventure. According to 2017 statistics, the average fully equipped food truck business in America grossed $300K. If you hope to become a part of this statistic then you need a food truck builder offering custom designs to make you successful in 2018. Follow these tips and you will be putting yourself in an ideal position to be a huge success in 2018 with the reputation of favorite food truck.

Don’t Go Big and Don’t Go Small

You need a food truck platform that fits your business model like a glove. In other words, work with a food truck builder who understands your market, can take your business goals and map them according to a build design, and engineer a truck that will meet your needs to 100% perfection. If you build too big you will be wasting money on unused space with a heavier load. If you go too small you won’t be able to operate at full capacity and it could be your downfall. Avoid a food truck builder who tries to force you to “go big”. Instead, look for one who can make you huge within a truck sized right for your growth.

Find a Food Truck Builder Who is Also a Marketer

Remember, your food truck is the foundation of your business, and before any business foundation can be created one must first engage thorough research to determine its making. This level of research requires a marketing mind, so look for a food truck builder who known how to research and identify trends, predictions, and competitors relevant to YOUR business model, cuisine type, and your operation’s geographic locations. If your truck is built to accommodate your unique business goals within your niche, your chance of being a 2018 powerhouse in the food truck scene will be significantly greater.

Spare no Expense on Branding

When it comes to branding your food truck there are two primary methods: paint and vinyl wrapping. While both methods have their pros and cons, the best food trucks usually opt for vinyl wrapping because it is more durable to wind, rain, and other weather conditions that flake away paint. While paint is cheaper out of pocket, vinyl wrap is regarded as the better investment because a single application typically lasts five times longer than a paint job. Find a company that not only builds mobile kitchens but that also designs and installs custom food truck vinyl wraps with all the marketing considerations in place. Remember, people eat with their eyes before they taste your food. This means food presentation must look perfect AND your truck’s design must be a head-turning thing of beauty that gets them in line to taste your latest fare.

Avoid the What Ifs and Buy New

You may be saving money off the bat from buying a used food truck, but in the long run you will be wasting cash while your profits diminish. Used food trucks are a gamble because you don’t know what their true condition is. Thousands of food trucks have gone out of business because they repair bills ate into their profits and the time they spent in the shop gave leverage to the competition to waltz in and steal customers. Protect your business’s future and your earning potential by investing in a brand new food truck. This way all you need to pay for are routine maintenance and your annual licensing.

Source – TechnoFAQ

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit

Christmas Spirit

The holiday season is upon us, and your loyal year-round fans are getting ready to spend the bulk of their discretionary dollars.  However, as people cut their budgets in order to save more money for tree-trimming and gift-giving, it can be tough for food truck owners and other personal service providers to attract fans who may be reluctant to spend money on themselves.  Fortunately, FoodTruckr has the scoop on six seasonal strategies your food truck can use to delight fans all throughout December.  These festive ideas are a fun way to connect with your customers and to entice fans with tastes and deals that are simply too good to pass up.

1. Decorate Your Truck

DecorateYourTruck

Looking to show off your holiday spirit and let customers know that you’re excited about the season?  There’s no better way to get in on the holiday fun than by sprucing up your vehicle with some colorful décor.

For instance, some festive battery-operated LED lights strung around the top of your truck, on your dashboard, or around your menu draws attention to your business and gets customers in the holiday spirit.  Decorations like a set of antlers and a Rudolph nose allow you to participate in the timeless tradition of seasonal cheer for the price of a burger and a large soft drink.  Put a tiny tree with lights inside your truck and turn on your favorite Christmas music.  Have your team dress up with Santa hats and elf ears.  However you choose to decorate, keep in mind that holiday decorations on your truck show people that there could be more festive goodies waiting for them inside.  Spruce up the outside of your truck and show customers that you’ve got the gift of the holiday spirit.

2. Offer Generous Promotions

Whether you’re hoping to attract hungry shoppers who need lunch or you want your truck to be a source of gift ideas, offer generous promotions during the holiday season.  Customers are looking for great deals and stocking-stuffers in December—and you’re competing against chain restaurants like Chipotle and Olive Garden that offer special deals when customers buy holiday gift cards.

Consider running a special promotion like “Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card for yourself for free.”  You could also give away a free round of sliders or a complimentary burrito with the purchase of a gift card.  These small incentives get people thinking about buying gift cards from your truck even though they might have otherwise only considered traditional restaurants.  Suddenly, your biggest fans realize how they can share the joy of your truck with their closest friends and family members.  And of course, you might even get some fans to commit to coming to your truck in the new year because they’ll buy gift cards for themselves in order to take advantage of your promotions.

If you’ve been thinking about launching a loyalty or rewards program, the holidays are also a great time to get started.  Then, when someone buys a gift card in December, you can offer an extra punch on his or her loyalty card to promote the program.  It’s just one more way to get customers excited about visiting your truck again in the new year.

3. Give to People in Need

GiveToPeopleInNeed
Of course, the holiday season isn’t all about giving gifts—it’s also an important time to remember people in need, such as the local members of your community who are hungry or in need of a warm place to stay.  As you’re highlighting promotions for your customers who want to give gifts to family and friends, be sure to also give something back to people who really need the help.

In November, the Culinary Institute of St. Louis at Hickey College and six local food trucks including Guerilla Streetfood, The Meltdown, and Slice of the Hill hosted a food truck food drive.  Customers who brought a canned good received a free bottle of water with their purchase.  Events like this one allow you to make a difference while also inspiring your fans to do the same.  You might also consider donating a portion of your daily profits to an organization that cares for the poor in your city or giving free meals to low-income families.

4. Create Seasonal Items

Your customers are hungry for the tasty delights you offer all year round—but even your most loyal fans may be easily swayed by the seasonal flavors and smells of cinnamon and spices wafting their way from other trucks down the street.  Give fans a reason to visit your truck by offering special seasonal items to tantalize their taste buds.  You might even attract some fans who are trying to save their money for holiday shopping but find the enticing nature of a festive goodie too much to pass by.

Ruthie's Food Truck

For instance, we love the incredible sandwich Ruthie’s Food Trucks put together to attract people before Thanksgiving.  The Gobble Gobble Gobble included turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mozzarella cheese on sourdough bread.  If you were already in the holiday spirit and you saw a Facebook post advertising this awesome menu addition, how could you resist?

5. Help Fans Find You

Naturally, you want to make it easy for fans to find you all year long—but there’s extra opportunities to reach fans during the holiday season.  Take your truck to crowded areas where people will be doing lots of holiday shopping.  Visit locations near popular Christmas light displays, ice skating rinks, or winter festivals.

Barcelona On the Go from Orange County, CA does a great job of bringing the holiday spirit to their fans by advertising their location with festive tweets.  Their truck appeals to fans who are already working on their holiday shopping.  Check out this shot of their Twitter feed:

BarcelonaOnTheGo

By advertising when they’ll be conveniently located near a major shopping site, Barcelona On the Go gives fans the chance to plan a lunch stop for the middle of the day.  And even though people are busy during the holiday season—and less likely to check up on social media throughout the day—Barcelona On the Go can still attract scores of hungry fans who happen by their truck in a crowded spot.  Figure out where your fans are most likely to be out and about during December and take your truck to them.

6. Add Small Touches

AddSmallTouches

Finally, make each fan’s experience at your truck a memorable one by adding those special small touches that transform a lunch from “delicious” to “WOW.”  Think of something like the iconic holiday red cups Starbucks uses each year or the big red plastic bags with snowflakes you see at Target during the holiday season.  These simple touches cater to fans who are in the spirit of the season and who are excited to see holiday reminders everywhere they go.

Whether you invest in some holiday-themed cardboard containers for your dishes or tie a festive ribbon around each to-go box, a little bit of seasonal cheer makes your truck stand out in your customer’s mind.  And the next time that customer heads out for a day of holiday fun and shopping, he or she will visit your truck for the small burst of celebratory cheer you have to offer.

Jingle Your Way to Joyous Customers

Keep things festive and fun all December-long and you’ll make the kinds of dedicated fans who will stick with you throughout the entire year.  Participating in the holidays helps you stay involved with your fans and cater to their interests—and it’s a fun way to showcase your lighthearted side and to get your employees and fans into festive, cheery moods.

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit – Source – Foodtruckr.com

Hire A Food Truck For Your End Of Year Party

There’s a good chance when you think of a food truck, you think of casual street food you eat with your hands. But food trucks aren’t just about those messy streets eats anymore. Today, there’s a whole new explosion of high-end food trucks that serve fresh, thoughtful dishes. Which is why more and more people are choosing to have food trucks at their party instead of a traditional caterer. Not convinced? Read on to find out why you may want to hire one (or three) for your next event.

There’s No Shopping, Prep Work, or Cooking

Sure, it can be rewarding to cook and bake everything you want to serve at your party… But it can also be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. Now, instead of spending the entire week before your party at the grocery store and in the kitchen, you can focus on things like décor, music, and having a little extra time to yourself.

There’s a Lot Less Clean Up

You know what not prepping, cooking, and serving means? That’s right: A lot less clean up. You’ll still be serving your guests fresh, delicious food. Just without the chaos of a dirty kitchen before, during, and after the party.

You Can Serve Just the Food You Love

Caterers often only offer limited menus and even though they’ll often have something you like, you can’t focus on your absolute favorite foods. Whether it’s pizza or tacos or empanadas, there are food trucks that serve pretty much anything you could want. And there are also trucks with fairly extensive menus, so that you can do an entire Mexican menu, not just tacos or burritos.

Food truck food - Custom food trailer

You Can Offer Several Types of Cuisine

Want to serve your guests Neopolitan-style pizzas and tasty barbecue? Bring in more than one food truck to accommodate larger crowds and a variety of taste buds. You can even do one truck for “appetizers,” a different one for the main course, and an ice cream or doughnut truck for dessert.

Set Up is a Breeze

Food trucks are used to showing up and setting up in very little time. As long as you have an area marked off for them (considering using orange cones), they can pull up, park, and be serving food in under an hour.

The Food Is Fresh

Whereas caterers often have to make big batches of food that sit in chafing dishes for who knows how long, most food trucks are making the food to order, which means it comes out hot and delicious for every single guest.

It’s Less Formal… In a Good Way

If you’re doing a sit-down dinner or even a buffet, it typically means that all of your guests are eating a certain time. A food truck, however, means that guests can eat what they want, when they want, which removes some of the formality and means guests can feel free to mingle and be spontaneous from the beginning of the event until it’s time to go home.

Perfect for Outdoor Locations

Everyone loves an outdoor party… Except the caterer who to figure out how to set up an outdoor kitchen, something that’s pretty difficult to do if there’s no electricity. In those cases, food trucks make perfect sense as you can have your party in a location that doesn’t have a traditional kitchen.

You’ll Need Fewer Servers

You’ll still want to have waiters wandering around to pick up dishes, pass hors d’oeuvres or champagne, and making sure all of your guests have everything they need. However, you’ll need a lot less people if you’re not asking the wait staff to bring multiple courses to seated diners.

It’s Incredibly Cost Effective

Catering company costs can get pretty crazy pretty quickly, where as feeding your friends and family from a food truck will be around $10 to $20 a person, depending on how many trucks and the cuisine. Still, if you do that math, that’s a crazy big savings considering you aren’t sacrificing the quality of food.

Consider a Bar “Food” Truck

Food trucks aren’t just for food anymore. Local bars, breweries, and wineries are getting in on the action as well. Consider hiring a truck to act as the bar at your event… You can even set up a little beer garden for guests to mix and mingle while they wait for their drinks.

Late Night Options

If your party is going all day, arrange for a food truck to show up late night to serve munchies and sweets. Your guests will be happy to have tasty bites to soak up the booze and it’s a good way to keep the party going just a little bit longer.

They Look Cute

Food trucks come in all shapes and sizes. There are retro-trucks, industrial-trucks, and Airstream trailers that have been turned into bars. Whatever the theme of your party, there’s a good chance you’ll find a food truck that fits both your taste buds and your style. And that’s totally Instagram-worthy.

Hire A Food Truck – Source – Thumbtack

The New Life of Street Food

Street Food

When I was in Italy, last summer, I was intrigued by the growing popularity of what now Italians call “street food,” using the English language expression to indicate, well… street food. Cibo di strada, in Italian. Street food is definitely not a novelty. The dwellers of ancient Roman cities, for instance, were able to eat out of their home: they could patronize taverns or buy ready-made snacks and meals to go from all kinds of roadside stalls. As kitchens were absent in most buildings where the lower classes lived, acquiring cooked food was a necessity. Such customs thrived for centuries, reflecting changes in times, political dynamics, and cultural environments. I remember, growing up as a child in Rome, to see people frying what in the US are known as zeppole in big oil vats on the street. To this day, it is not uncommon to see kiosks selling porchetta, delicious pork roasted with herb and spices, sliced, and served in crunchy bread rolls. In summer, watermelon sellers hawk their goods on the city curbs, a Godsend in the hot Roman nights.

Side by side with these more traditional expressions, street food has found a new life in Italy. Entrepreneurs and creative chefs provide affordable and stimulating dishes that are inspired by the old ones, but often try to elevate them to respond to the preferences of their clientele. Their customers tend to be young and of the “foodie” conviction, always looking for affordable but intriguing flavor combinations that maintain some connection with the past, while using good, local ingredients. Healthier, safer production environments also increase the attractiveness of these new offerings. In fact, in Italy these days, street food – from takeaway pizza to fried rice arancini – is mostly sold not from stalls but out of small stores that enjoy a closer relationship to the street than regular restaurants. These eateries often have few seats available, forcing patrons to eat standing or to take away food. Some of the most interesting food in the Italy is now sold under this label. Gambero Rosso, one of the best known food and wine magazines in the country, has started publishing a Street Food guidebook, while websites such as Via dei Gourmet use street food as a distinct category, knowing that its users know precisely what they refer to.

The gentrification of street food, while overall embraced as a positive evolution of the Italian culinary landscape, risks pushing aside food providers that are not able to speak the same language as the popular upstarts or are not willing to change their product and their sale methods to attract the clientele who are ready to buy the new “street food”, with more originality, better quality, and possibly at higher prices. Such trends are also visible in the American landscape. Food trucks are enjoying growing success, as chefs and entrepreneurs consider them as viable alternative to brick and mortar restaurants, especially in cities where real estate costs are prohibitive. The food they offer is exciting, and they reflect the aesthetics and the communication modes of their clientele. It is not uncommon for food trucks to announce their locations on social media, and for their followers to look for them, wherever they are. The more traditional street vendors, those selling coffee and hot dogs, or the peddlers bringing fruits and vegetables of the curbs of disadvantaged neighborhoods, outside of the more glamorous background of the farmers’ markets, are often ostracized and treated quite differently, including by the local authorities and the police. As I have discussed in a previous post, the Street Vendor Project has been raising funds and working with underprivileged sellers and hawker to represent them in policy and administrative discussion.

We will discuss these changes and tensions at the New School, in a discussion panel on the history of street food in New York City. Street food has historically played a crucial role in the way New Yorkers produce, buy, and consume food. From carts bringing produce from nearby farms to immigrant vendors providing traditional foods to their community, and later to the city at large, food has always been present on the streets. The panel will explore the past and present of street food in NYC, looking at culinary elements, culture, and the evolution of policy regulating the way New Yorkers were allowed to sell and access food in public spaces.

Imbuzi Cafe - Food Vending Trailer

Street Food – Source – Huffington Post

4 Social Media Lessons From a Successful Food Truck

Social Media - Food Truck Business
Before John, my husband-to-be, and I started our food truck in 2010 , I cyber-stalked food trucks on the West Coast and in New York City to find out how they were using Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare. For the most part, they posted their daily routes and specials of the day, and while that alone attracted them hundreds of customers, I knew that wouldn’t fly for us.

Source – The Muse

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