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May 6, 2016 Staff

How to Start a Food Truck in Mobile, Alabama

mobileWe know that starting a food truck business can be quite challenging. The most important thing, information, might not always be readily available even with the presence of the Internet which is why we go out of our way to connect with people who have already established themselves in the food truck arena to get sound advice and tips.

Not too long ago, we were able to connect with Jason of Smokin’ Gringos. He operates his food truck in Mobile, Alabama. He has already established his business as the go to place for anybody who is craving for the perfect taco and business is doing very well. Please continue reading through the rest of the page to learn from his experience.

M&R: Tell me a bit about yourself and the beginnings of Smokin’ Gringos.

SG: Jason Harsany, owner/founder/operator of Smokin’ Gringos taco truck, Mobile, Al. After years in corporate office space drudgery, decided to branch out and open a restaurant… but didn’t have adequate funding, culinary training or a solid plan to open a brick and mortar. So, in 2009, bought an equipped food truck hundreds of miles away and opened as a “one man, a truck and a grill” operation. Now it’s grown into a respectable brand and business …with unlimited growth potential.

M&R: How did you overcome all the hurdles of launching your business? Did you have a mentor or a clear guide that showed you what you needed to do?

SG: Being the first food truck in our city made it hard getting started, going and growing during the first few years. There was no clear guide book to owning and operating such a business. Certain food trucks around the country were doing it but a discernible and effective template wasn’t yet established. Basically, I had to learn every element of running a restaurant in combination with a catering operation… and the many unique challenges of mobile and stationary Vending.

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M&R: Starting a food truck business is already challenging as it is not to mention having to navigate city regulations, including health and fire safety requirements. How did you manage all that?

SG: Sadly I can’t tell you exactly how to, even after all these years in business. You just have to keep compiling research and learning from other successful food trucks and get highly informed and organized.. internet mostly.

M&R: In some parts, parking spaces for food trucks are hard to come by. How is it in Mobile, Alabama?

SG: We have definitely had our share of issues finding parking and being harassed for staying in spots too long by business owners who want those spots for their customers. But most of the support is positive from downtown businesses and customers. They love having an alternative option of a reliable street food business.

M&R: What has been your biggest challenge as a food truck operator?

SG: Weather is obviously a big issue for any food truck but particularly in Mobile, which is one of the rainiest cities in the country. You have to have rain (even snow) contingency plans, especially when it comes to private event catering.

M&R: Can you conclude this interview with some advice that our aspiring entrepreneurs can follow?

SG: It takes a broad base knowledge of the whole macro and micro aspects of a business and Marketplace to succeed. You also must be willing, able and wanting to become director of marketing, products, personnel, finance, (to name a few) and operations in general…. Must learn all aspects of and implement and maintain the P’s: Planning, product, process, pricing, promoting, production, people, places, passion and positivity.

You have to be willing, able and talented enough to be the star quarterback and every player on the team, the head coach and all the assistant coaches, the general manager and the owner. It’s a lot like farming and growing crops. You have to Define and determine the land, identify the crop, build a process, have the right people to help you, get it to Market and repeat process over and over again.

Thank you Jason of Smokin’ Gringos for sharing his experience! Check them out if you live in or plan to visit Mobile!

Useful Links

We hope these links can provide direction for you to help you start your food truck business.

Alabama.gov (business) – Here is the business page of Alabama State’s homepage.

City of Mobile (applications & forms) – This is the link to the applications and forms page of the website of Mobile.

Smokin’ Gringos – Visit their FB page to connect with Jason and Smokin’ Gringos.

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