A recent article from Independent Restaurateur profiles Wafels & Dinges, a New York City restaurant that made the leap to brick and mortar restaurant from a successful food truck business. Owner Thomas DeGeest talks about how much harder running a restaurant is: “Managing a restaurant is a whole different ballgame,” he says, “Your margins are a lot tighter and you have to watch your numbers a lot more closely.”
What About G
oing From a Restaurant to a Food Truck Business?
DeGeest’s experience got us thinking whether it make sense for a successful restaurant to go into the food truck business instead of the other way around. After all, if you can run a restaurant, wouldn’t it be that much easier to start a food truck business? By their transitory nature, food trucks can get your brand known all over a metropolitan area, gaining new loyal customers who might then want to try the restaurant owned by the same business. Its like a free roving billboard for your restaurant. Here are some other benefits:
- If a restaurant has a catering busine
ss, it can use the food truck to deliver catered food, or cook it onsite.
- As mentioned previously a well decorated and advertised truck can help build loyalty for a café or restaurant brand and get people who wouldn’t have know about the restaurant to try it. The truck can even offer coupons to try the restaurant and advertise its catering business to consumers as they’re enjoying the food. What better way to reach prospective restaurant and catering customers than while they’re eating your food?
- Food truck owners that also own restaurants can use the restaurant to get deliveries of supplies, prep food prior to going out on the truck, and share staff, all of which are challenges for competitor food truck owners who don’t have restaurants. Many cities require food trucks to have access to a commercial kitchen for food prep. Some food trucks rent such places but don’t fully utilize them like a restaurant would.
But What Does it Take to Start a Food Truck Business?
It all sounds exciting but as with any business, there are issues to consider. When 50 food truck operators were recently polled by foodtrukr.com, the number one issue they said they wish they understood better before starting was permitting. This can be very tricky or easy depending on the city.
Forbes Magazine says buying and equipping a food truck can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. Make sure you research how much truck you really need (and buy used if you can) then budget it in your business plan.
Check Out These Resources for Information on Starting a Food Truck Business
Foodtruckr.com has tons of resources for food truck owners, from finding website designers specifically tailored to food trucks, to leveraging social media to promote your food truck, podcasts, and information on starting a food truck business. They’re even building a database of permitting requirements by city.
Major cities like the city of Boston have set up websites specifically geared towards helping food truck owners get licensed, understand regulations and find legal places to park.
Ken Jacobus is CEO and founder of Good Start Packaging. He works with restaurants and other organizations around the U.S. to help them find the best sustainable alternatives to traditional plastic take out food containers. When not busy trying to eliminate landfills and plastic, he hikes, bikes, skis, reads, and plays with his family around his home in southern New Hampshire.