What should I look for when buying a food truck?
– Chef, Honolulu, HI
Food trucks, which used to be quirky pieces of catering equipment used at worksites and special events, are now all the range in many cities. A truck may be a stepping-stone to a brick-and-mortar business for a restaurateur in a high-rent urban area or a full restaurant concept unto itself.
A variety of trucks, trailers and carts exist. Like all restaurant design, the equipment and facilities should support your menu. Trucks are doing wood-fired pizza , char-grilled burgers, hand-cut fries and other fare far beyond the usual griddle setup.
Before getting too excited about your purchase, make sure that once you have a truck, you’ll actually be able to do business. Your municipal department will have a set of regulations for mobile food vending, and, beyond that, the permitting process can be increasingly challenging for trucks.
In terms of the specific features, we spoke with a few food truck owner operators near Drexel University:
- “Like when buying a car, make sure it runs and the mileage isn't too high. Make sure the size is all right. Preferably you want a service on both sides and a gas motor over a diesel because diesel isn't as smooth and they smell weird. You want to see what equipment it has. Make sure it is NSF: sinks, stoves. Make sure the electric is good and it is up to code.” Tom McCusker, Honest Tom’s Tacos
- “I knew nothing of the actual vehicle, I am still learning. Get a wrap that attracts people to your truck because there are a lot of silver roach coaches that make great food, but I personally would never eat at them because they look gross and there is nothing marketing their concept.” Marti Lieberman, Mac Mart
- “I bought the box van for four grand and built my truck myself, so I would say do as much as you can by yourself. A buddy of mine is a welder and I knew most of the purveyors in the area so I found a lot of affordable equipment still up to code.” Robert Legget, The Guerrilla Truck