Have you heard of the food truck industry? If you live in a city, you probably have seen them, they are often on many corners at lunch time. Food trucks are estimated to be three million strong and growing rapidly. It has the attention of companies large and small. Not only are the food trucks providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and more to employees, companies are seeing the advantage of providing products that the food trucks need as well. Apple has come up with an app for their iPad to facilitate payment processing. Cities all over the country are approving ordinances to meet the demand. They realize that more business means more income generation for the city. Entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity because of the relatively low cost of entry into the food business market and the flexibility it offers.
So why is this such a big deal, and what may it have to do with any of us? I was just doing a little brainstorming. It could be that a food truck is something that would be a good fit for some of you. The food trucks that are taking the nation by storm are real mobile kitchens, and bakers and chefs are doing their magic on street corners across the country. That might be a good fit for you. The downside is that it takes an investment from $50,000-$100,000. Ouch. Even worse, most banks are not willing to lend money on food trucks. So why am I writing about this?
Well, you know I like to think outside the box. I have not researched this idea to see if it would be allowed. I suspect that each state and possibly even counties may have specific regulations. I am going to share the idea with you anyway. For a lot of people, one the the big challenges is the sales channel. So, here is the idea. Please remember that this idea may well be only worth what you paid for it!
The Food Truck Idea
I wonder if this is going to not only revolutionize the restaurant industry, but the Cottage Food Law industry as well. There I said it and I may look like a fool if it is not possible. I am willing to take that chance. I have to admit to you that I certainly have my share of dumb ideas. But think about it. If you could make your food at home, then have a place to park your truck or van to sell your baked goods on the street where there are customers, this could be a huge break for those baking under the Cottage Food Laws. Of course, you have to follow all the laws, label you food properly etc. In most states, the laws require that you sell to customers directly. Well, that is what the food trucks are doing. This is just a variation on that theme. The great thing is that you would not have to spend $50,000 to purchase a kitchen to drive around, you do that part at home, you are just making that great food available to the public.
I have read quite a bit about Food trucks, and there are issues that they are fighting. As they become more popular, they are winning more and more of their fights. The American Restaurant Association is weighing in as well. They are seeing the opportunities and favoring it.
Challenges for Mobile Kitchens
One of the big issues is parking. I have read about what some of the vendors have done to secure parking places. For example, one business sent out a vehicle each day where they wanted to do business. It would get there early to secure a parking place for the truck when it arrived. Other vendors would trade lunches for parking places.Often vacant lots served as a place to park.
With the growing trend of food trucks, some cities have put ordinances in place to make doing business difficult. For example, in some areas, they have made it illegal to park in vacant lots. Other cities don’t allow metered parking for mobile kitchens. Often brick and mortar restaurants don’t want food trucks to be allowed to park in the same block.
There are resolutions being worked out however, but it may take some time. In some places, vendors have to park a certain distance from the nearest restaurant. Contracts for parking spots are being drawn up. Joint ventures between businesses are being formed.
So, for instance, if you sell great cupcakes and the local coffee shop has no kitchen, could you sell your cupcakes in their parking lot? I don’t know the answer to that, but hey, if you are serious about running your business, it may be the solution to how to sell your products. Finding out the answer is your job. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Here are some websites you might want to visit to find out more:
- Mobile Cuisine: http://www.mobile-cuisine.com
- National Association for the Specialty Food Trade: http://www.specialtyfood.com
- National Restaurant Association: http://www.restaurant.org
- NYC Food Truck Association: http://www.nycfoodtrucks.org
- Oregon Street Food Association: http://www.orsfa.org
- Philly Mobile Food Association: facebook.com/phillymfa
- Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association: http://www.socalmfva.com
- Washington D.C. Food Truck Association: http://www.dcfoodtrucks.org
There is also a book written by David Weber that you might want to check out. Here is a link:
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section. I hope that this helps some of you.
P.S. P.S. From time to time I recommend products and services I 110% believe in. If you click my link and buy I earn a commission. The products won’t cost any more because you click my links. In fact, I’m sometimes able to negotiate better prices or add bonuses on top when you click my links. It’s a triple win.
photo credit: STREETZA