Should I Start a Food Truck?

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

Every year, food trucks take their wares to festivals, provincial fairs, and other outdoor events, where they cook food on site. Restaurateurs get to know their customers better, learn which dishes work and which don’t, and frequently increase their incomes. Founding a food truck might sound simple, but you need to take several risks and challenges into consideration before you take to the road. Food trucking might be made for you; on the other hand, you might find it easier to open a fixed-location restaurant.

Challenge One: Start-up Costs

Food trucks usually cost much less to set up than traditional restaurants, which is part of the reason why they’re potentially so lucrative. Nevertheless, you need a little money to get into the game. Entrepreneurs frequently set up and stock food trucks for between $50,000 and $200,000. Fixed-location restaurants often cost upward of $500,000 to found and can frequently cost well over $1 million to establish. If you have capital from the sale of a house and want to dive into a small business, you might decide to invest in food trucking. If you don’t have liquid assets or cash on hand, you might need to obtain funding from investors or get a bank loan. In that case, drafting a business plan can help you win over potential shareholders and bank staff.

Challenge Two: Staffing Your Food Truck

Unless you intend to do all the work yourself, you need to hire one or more staff members to work on your food truck. Under normal circumstances, the hiring process can be tiring and frustrating; where food is concerned, savvy employment practices are paramount. Most provinces and cities require that all people working on food trucks have valid food-handler certifications. If the people you employ don’t have those certifications yet, you could send them for training courses — but that requires money and time. If, on the other hand, you decide to hire only individuals with existing certifications, you may be in for a long wait. Your new employees also need to be able to drive the food truck, which can be a particular challenge when road conditions are not stellar.

Challenge Three: Bureaucratic Hurdles

Mobile food vending laws vary wildly by province and by individual city. In Toronto, you need to obtain both a Motorized Refreshment Vehicle Owner Licence and a Mobile Food Vending Permit before you can get started. In Montreal, on the other hand, you have to become a member of the Association des Restaurateurs de Rue du Québec, which judges the merits of each food truck before allowing its owners to proceed. You also need a Montreal business licence, several different restaurant licenses, and other pertinent documents to make your food truck legal. Some cities also put a time limit on food truck parking in certain locations. Legal red tape and city ordinances can be frustrating and difficult to deal with, but if you persevere, you can usually prevail.All businesses carry some risk, and food trucks are no exception. If you forge ahead without planning properly, take out large business loans without the means to pay them back, or fail to get the right permits, you could lose a lot of money and a lot of time. Before you make a firm decision, assess the challenges of owning a food truck against the risks associated with a fixed-location restaurant to decide which one is a better fit for you.

References & Resources

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