From chicken to waffles, the street food scene is flourishing and finding its way onto the business map. With a simple menu, some extra cash and the strong passion to succeed, starting your own food truck isn’t as tough as you think.
Of course, those-in-the-know point out, there are rules to follow in this business.
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Food truck owners must follow health regulations, much like restaurant owners. Before jumping into the “street,” find out your state’s requirements.
While you’re looking into your state’s regulations, dig a little deeper. You may find that your state has a support system or forum offering help to small business owners. The Street Vendor Project, part of the Urban Justice Center, is a membership-based project reaching out to vendors in New York City, teaching them their legal rights as vendors and helping them grow their businesses.
Compared to their restaurant counterparts, food-truck owners save on rental costs, employee salaries and power bills, but they are expected to pay licensing fees, insurance and taxes, much like any other small business.
Once you get the budget and location squared away, it’s time to invest in a food truck. Several business owners said they found their vehicle on eBay, or through a local auto dealership.
Once you’ve got the idea, the truck, menu and regulations settled, it’s time to hit the road.
Ross Resnick developed Roaming Hunger, a Web site service connecting vendors to customers nationwide. With food-truck operations becoming widely popular, Resnick said he wanted to create a tool providing a platform and networking opportunity for street vendors across the country.
“I started Roaming Hunger really to help people find where all the street food vendors were congregating in real time,” Resnick said.
An avid street-food fan, Resnick said he wanted to centralize his options.
“The Web site provides a platform to understand the buffet of street food, and all the amazing delicious options that are on the table,“ he said.
From his work on "the road," Resnick said he has developed a list of three priorities for any street vendor hoping for success.
First, he said, maintain an ability to communicate.
“The best vendors do great self-marketing, creating a brand around their product and communicating it to their customers,” he said.
Secondly, maintain one consistent theme across your brand. And lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of social networking.
“Social media skills are a plus for a company --- tweeting several times a day and having real conversations with your customers will advertise your company’s brand name,“ he said.