Food trucks offering everything from cupcakes to waffles have sprouted in cities all over, and it sure sounds fun. Driving around, selling unique food, tweeting about it, who wouldn’t want that? But before you jump in, you should know it’s a darn hard grind. $100,000 in startup costs is not unheard of, and you better make sure you know the regulations. For instance, how are you going to sell food from your truck if you’re not allowed to park it anywhere?
There’s more to planning a lucrative mobile food business than just parking somewhere and crossing your fingers. Even if your idea is great, you must first be aware of local regulations. In the summer of 2009, Chef Charles Kelsey had a plan to start a sandwich truck in Cambridge, MA. But unlike cities such as Portland, OR, where the process of opening a curbside business is coherently laid out by the city and permits are pretty easy to snatch, Cambridge didn’t have such a clear-cut process.
“It was a freaking nightmare,” Kelsey said about trying to get a parking space in the Kendall Square neighborhood. After getting over 20 recommendation letters from local business owners and influential residents, still with no city support, he gave up the mobile concept and went on to open Cutty’s, a successful brick-and-mortar sandwich shop in Brookline.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t start a food truck if it’s your dream, just know that it will take more than a clever name, a paint job and a bucket of chutzpah.
So You Want to Start a Food Truck? [American Express Open Forum]