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The Vegetable Express Brings Vegan Comfort Food To Colorado

All aboard The Vegetable Express Food Trailer.

Drive 15-miles west of Boulder, Colorado and you’ll find a small community tucked in the Rocky Mountains called Nederland or simply “Ned” to the locals. According to the 2010 census this community has only 1,445 residents. But this funky little town has a lot more in store for visitors than you might expect based on the size. There are a variety of eclectic shops, stunning natural beauty and more recently The Vegetable Express.

The Vegetable Express is a mobile food unit that opened it’s doors in November, 2017 with the goal of offering vegan comfort food to the residents and guests of Nederland. Owner/Operators Jason Milner and Kara Kessler hope to educate others about the positive impacts of a plant based diet, on a personal and planetary level through the Vegetable Express.

Along the way, they’ll probably be changing some people’s perceptions about what a plant based diet can really test like. Check out some of these menu items:

Breakfast Burrito: Tofu “bacon” – Tofu scrambled “eggs” – sautéed onions, bell peppers, spinach, daiya cheese, salsa and guacamole.

Veggie Burrito: Sautéed onions, bell peppers, black beans, corn, Quinoa, spinach, daiya cheese, salsa and guacamole.

Caesar Kale Salad: Kale tossed in homemade Caesar dressing, topped with hemp seeds and cashew “parmesean.”

Carrot Dog: Marinated and grilled carrot served on bun, topped with diced onion, jalapeño, tomato and pickle.

As you can see the small sample of the Vegetable Expresses menu probably not what you expected. Jason and Kara plan to experiment with more menu items as their business grows. Below is a photo of some of their additional menu items:

If you live in or plan to visit Nederland, you can often find The Vegetable Express at West First St until 6 p.m. But check their Facebook page for daily location and times. They’ll be serving up plant-based protein with a side of smiles no matter where they’re located.

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we are honored to have the opportunity to serve entrepreneurs like Kara and Jason launch a truly innovative food concept with an important social mission behind it. We wish The Vegetable Express nothing but success in the future of their business!

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Gary Vaynerchuck’s Business and Marketing Advice for Food Truck Owners

Gary Vaynerchuck is arguably the most well-known entrepreneur and social media thought-leader on the planet. Throughout the year you can watch daily tidbits of him running his business his YouTube Channel that’s rapidly approaching a million subscribers or Instagram. Vaynerchuck’s company, VaynerMedia, provides marketing consulting from Fortune 500 companies to the biggest athletes in the world. But while attending a recent marketing conference, Vaynerchuck took some time out of his speaking schedule to offer some specific advice to a small business owner… specifically a food truck owner.

online reviews

If you’re someone that’s never heard of Gary Vaynerchuck don’t worry! As background Vaynerchuck has a regular YouTube / Podcast called “Ask GaryVee” where people call or email a variety of business, social media, and even life choice questions to Gary. Gary takes these questions and gives his no-holds barred perspective on questions that are asked.

As Vaynerchuck describes in the video below, he met this food truck owner at a conference / book signing. The woman that owns the food truck received a signed book, but came back to Vaynerchuck to ask for seek specific advice about the operations of her food truck. Vaynerchuck gives her major praise for coming back to speak with him personally about her business and shared the mini consulting session below through his vlog.

The Scenario

The reason this woman sought Gary’s advice was to get his opinion on why her food truck was struggling. The woman had started an all-American BBQ food truck. Her first food truck was a huge success, profitable, and gained a following quickly. But… after adding a second and third food truck she found the growth difficult to manage and the new trucks to not be as profitable as the first. She then asked Gary what his thoughts were and admitted she wasn’t able to pinpoint where things started to go wrong.

Gary starts by asking the woman what changed after growing to three food trucks. This was a terrific question after all the day-to-day work of a food truck owner with one truck is very different than someone that owns three. With a single truck, you can have your hands in every aspect of the operations from the business from front-of-house and greeting customers to cooking meals and everything in between. But when you scale to multiple locations, your role needs to change. You will be doing more management of people and securing business for the trucks. It’s a completely different position!

Gary asks the entrepreneur to work back and think about all the different aspects of her business that changed after expanding to three trucks. The woman mentions that she used to take orders from the window. Now other employees accept the orders. The recipes and portion sizes may have changed… even slightly after this expansion as well. Vaynerchuck then explains to the woman how she needs to work backwards and figure out all the things that changed with her business operations initially and see what could be done to build more process into her business and make the total experience closer to what she had when there was only one truck.

Social Media Marketing  

Gary Vaynerchuck first became well-known in the marketing space for being an expert on the topic of social media. Gary then offers the business owner a tactic on Instagram that could work extremely well for a food truck business.

The idea is to find 20 social media influencers that are nearby the city you operate in. Gary then recommended reaching out to 20 people per day, saying you like their profile and then offering them free lunch at the truck. By consistently applying this tactic over time, Gary believes that you could become an extremely popular truck in the area assuming your food is of high-quality.

Gary also clarifies that it’s important to implement this strategy on Instagram specifically. Why? Because it has more organic reach than other social media websites like Facebook. Organic reach is a description of the number of people that see your post for free online and don’t have to pay for it with advertising.

The conversation is pretty in-depth considering that this advice was given at a marketing event where Gary was likely being approached to speak with many high-level marketers or business people.  So major props to Gary for taking the time to consult with a small food business owner. The owner walked away with some very specific takeaways that she said would be implemented in her business.

Whether you’re currently operating a concession business or just thinking about it, we recommend watching this video to anyone. It demonstrates just how challenging operating any type of business, including a food truck can be.

 

What Do Specialty Vehicles and Trailers Mean?

What is a specialty vehicle or trailer? Specialty vehicles are mobile units that solve a variety of specific problems for a wide-range of businesses from dentists that want to bring their services to patients anywhere to government organizations like the fire department that requires a mobile preparation and recovery center that can be positioned anywhere there’s a fire.

In today’s post, we wanted to walk you through some of the different examples of specialty units and trailers that are available. As you’ll see, whether you’re a non-profit, a business, or a member of law enforcement there’s a specialty unit that could be built to serve a pain point within your organization. Let’s look at a few different examples…

Mobile Prep / Recovery Vehicles for Fire Departments

rehab trailer

A fire department is contacted to offer support in a variety of situations well beyond the scope of fighting fires in a diverse scope of environments. These fires can occur in large cities or suburban areas with nearby amenities. Other times, departments may be called to fight forest fires in rural areas with almost no nearby resources. A mobile preparation, recovery and command center helps fire fighters work more efficiently and provides additional support no matter where the fire or other crisis situation is located.

This unit solves a variety of regular problems for fire departments. First, it provides a mobile control center where teams can meet and communicate with each other during a fire. There is also a built in restroom and decontamination shower that are essential when fighting a long-term blaze.  Of course there is ample storage space for equipment, electrical outlets to provide power, and even a crow’s nest to get an improved view of a fast-changing situation.

Audio Examination Trailers

For a lot of folks, it can be difficult to take time off from work for routine dental or medical checkups. For many workers, these regular checkups might be delayed years between visits. With an audio examination trailer like the one shown below, hearing checkups can be provided in a place that is most convenient to the patient.

Of course there are a many groups of people that can benefit from improve access to healthcare services. Senior citizens with limited mobility can benefit greatly from services that come directly to their neighborhoods and communities. Children of all ages in school can benefit from having routine checkups offered at schools. Finally, other rural communities may find it extremely difficult to get access to these healthcare services. When you stop to think about it the benefits of mobile health care services is incredible.

Mobile Blood Drives 

One example of mobile medical vehicles that has been extremely successful is for blood drive events. Similar to routine checkups, if a blood drive is convenient it’s much more likely that people will participate.

Hosting a blood drive at your school or business has a lot of clear benefits. First you’re literally helping to save lives in your community and across the country by providing a life source to patients when they need it most. Aside from being an hero, there are other clear benefits to corporate teams that decide to participate as a group in these kinds of initiatives, including a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment toward a shared goal.

Mobile Cooling Station 

One important thing to understand with specialty vehicles is that if you have a vision there’s likely a way to accomplish it. This was the case when we when Steve Perry of the Polar Pod approached us about his innovative build concept. Perry wanted to develop a mobile unit that would help people stay cool and provide refuge for individuals that were overheated at events like parades, concerts or even just the beach. After many discussions with Perry about his concept and vision, we drafted a blue-print to create the mobile cooling station that you see below.

The build above demonstrates just how flexible one can be with the design and manufacturing of a specialty vehicle. We hope this blog post gives you a better sense of what we mean when someone describes a mobile unit as a specialty vehicle.

Keep in mind that there are too many specialty vehicle options to list in a single post. These vehicles include disability vans that improve the mobility of people with wheel chairs, law enforcement command centers, mobile veterinary clinics and many more.

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How to Start Vending Outside Home Improvement Stores like Home Depot

Depending on where you live, you may have noticed a concession trailer or hot dog cart serving outside of a big-box home improvement store like Home Depot and wondered… How can I get my concession business to vend there?

Home Depot’s can be desirable areas to vend because there can be foot traffic in-and-out of the store all day, seven days a week. Home improvement stores attract a wide-range of professionals including contractors, laborers, and even the weekend do-it-yourselfer. In this post, we explore how to get your business approved to vend in these locations, what the process is like, and if it’s the right decision for your business.

Getting Booked in Front of a Home Depot

Many vendors are surprised to find out that there’s more red-tape involved in serving food at a Home Depot or Lowes than one might expect. You can’t simply make a phone call to your local retailer and ask when the best time for your arrival is. You’ve got to go through an application process with a third-party that manages all of the vendors outside of Home Depot’s and other larger retailers nationally.

Young man outside of a Home Depot location.

The organization you’ll need to work with to vend at Home Depot is called Best Vendors. Best Vendors offers a variety food services for businesses including vending machine stocking, break room services, and also book third-party vendors in front of retail stores through their sub-division called Street Eats Limited.

To be considered to vend at these locations, you first need to contact the Street Eats Limited and request an application to vend. Along with the completed application, you will pay a fee associated with this. At the time of writing the fee is about $50.00, but could change in the future. It can take 4 – 8 weeks to get written approval from this company build this time frame into your expectations.

In addition to submitting the applicable keep in mind that your concession trailer or cart must be fully compliant with all local health / fire codes, meet NSF requirements, and certified in food safety courses.

After getting through the approval process, you will learn how much it will cost to vend outside your particular Home Depot or Lowe’s location from Street Eats Limited. Each location has a different set price for renting or leasing the space. The arrangement is almost like having your own rented restaurant space, where you pay a monthly lease fee in exchange for the opportunity to operate here.

Ultimately, you’ll need to determine if going through this process makes sense from a business perspective.  Many vendors determine it’s not worth the effort or expense. Still there are some businesses that find success operating with this arrangement. As with any business arrangement there are advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.

Understanding Your Target Market

Before you move forward with vending outside of a home improvement store there are some things you need to keep in mind. The most important consideration is whether or not your concession food makes sense to sell outside of these retailers.

Do you know your target market?

Monday – Friday you’ll find a lot of folks like contractors, laborers, painters, construction workers and grounds keepers shopping here for work. When these people enter a Home Depot, they usually have a clear goal in mind. Pick up a specific tool or material for the worksite and return to work. These people do not have a lot of time to spare and the faster they return to the job site the better. As a result, if these individuals decide to eat they want something that’s fast, portable, a preferably low cost.

One of the food concepts that has proven to be successful outside of Home Depot’s is the hot dog trailer. Hot dog’s can be served fast and eaten on the go if needed. They are also an affordable meal for any worker. Other menu items with the potential to work well are tacos and pizza.

Bottom line, if you plan to serve food that’s higher end or takes a long time to prepare this will not be the right venue. If you’ve got a 2-gallon can of paint in your right hand and a bag of brushes in the left, you simply aren’t going to be in the right state of mind for a sit-down gourmet lunch.

Other Location Factors

Not all Home Depot or Lowe’s allow food vendors to serve outside their location. If you happen to live in Northern states it’s unlikely you’ll find food vendors at all. Before putting too much effort into the application process, it may save you some time to ask if the store even accepts vendors in front of your location. That will give you a quick red or green light in determining if you should move forward.

Another factor you need to consider if the location will be regularly hosting charitable or other organizations outside of store. While organizations like Boy Scouts of America are wonderful their presence may not be ideal from a business perspective if they are also selling food to raise funds. This is yet another consideration to keep in mind before moving ahead with this location.

In conclusion, if you have a food concept that makes sense for a home-improvement store, vending at these locations can be a profitable option. There are some examples of hot dog vendors that are able to operate profitable businesses outside of a Home Depot for many years. Just like any other vending location, sometimes this strategy can and other times it won’t. We hope this post has given you some additional information on whether or not this spot will work for you.

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How To Factor For Seasonality in a Concession Business

Winter is indeed coming. For vendors operating in cooler temperature states or even Canada this inevitably means lower monthly revenue figures for the rest of the year as we move deeper into the fall and winter months.

Most food vendors anticipate this lower demand due to seasonality. In places like New York, Boston and the entire country of Canada you’ll need to be prepared for substantial revenue impacts. If you’re located in Southern California or Florida, the winter-time revenue impacts will be less pronounced.

When you’re starting your business or still in the business plan development stage, it’s important to understand and be prepared for these changes. If not, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Some Trucks Menus are More Seasonal Than Others. Photo Credit: www.benjerry.com

How Will Seasonality Impact Your Revenue?

As mentioned above, seasonality could impact you a little or a lot depending on where you operate. The best way to identify how much of a revenue hit you could expect to take is to ask other street vendors in your area how much business slows down for them. If you talk to four or five veteran vendors, you should be able to get a good ballpark estimate.

If possible, try to find someone with a similar style menu to you for estimates. A shaved ice trailer is going to have a much tougher time generating sales in December compared to a coffee truck so keep menu in mind. If you have limited information, a 30% decrease in sales is a good rule of thumb.

To determine the revenue percentage decrease compare your previous months revenue you can use some mathematical formulas to determine how much you can expect to make during the slow months. Alternatively, you can use a straight forward online calculator like this one to determine what your % decrease would be.

bobo's que

Built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

Ways to Combat Seasonality Impact

Although changing seasons is outside your control there are some things within your control to bring in revenue during the winter season. Here are a few different ways many existing concession businesses we work with approach this time period.

Head South: One of the most attractive elements of operating a concession trailer is that if business isn’t good somewhere, you can simply hitch up the trailer and travel somewhere more profitable. Of course, it’s not quite that easy to differing health codes  and vending regulations. But you can make it happen with a bit of strategic planning.

Some of our previous customers operate this way by design. During the summer months, they head north to take advantage of festivals and events. When fall comes they pack up and head south to vend for the winter where it’s warm. This can be a great lifestyle if you have a desire to move around a bit.

Change Menu: If you’re selling ice cream to Eskimos in January, it’s probably not going to work out well for you. Even if you are a terrific sales person! One option you have is to adapt your menu to serving foods that customers are more accustomed to consuming during the winter.

Adding hot coffee, hot chocolate or warm soups could be ways to adapt a menu for winter. In fact, these seasonal menu changes could be a great way to keep things exciting for your customers as well. Even chain restaurants like Soup Plantation will mix up their menu to match the season.

Focus on Catering and Big Events: While it may be cold outside that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of catering opportunities to be had this time of year. As holidays like Christmas and New Year’s approach, businesses often reward their employees with corporate lunches or parties that are catered. These events can be quite lucrative as well!

In addition to indoor catering, most cities will have winter festivals that are held outside even during those cold winter months. Be on the look out with your cities website to keep in tune with local upcoming events. Well attended events like winter carnivals can be a great opportunity to generate a big day of sales in an otherwise down month.

Finally, we’ve worked with a lot of concession vendors that simply decide to take some time off during the winter and relax. Focusing on high-revenue months from June – August and putting lifestyle first could be the best option for you too. Many vendors work really long and hard hours during the summer then take the winters off.

Remember, you have no control over weather conditions in your area and for most vendors the winter months will be lower revenue months. You do have a lot of different options over what you can do to combat these slower months, however.

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How Much Food Storage Space is Needed on Your Concession Trailer?

How much storage space is needed on your concession trailer? This is a question frequently overlooked by first time vendors. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the type of kitchen equipment that will be installed and the wrap of the vehicle. These are important parts of the build process. But at M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we also understand you need to have enough available space on the concession trailer to store your raw materials like hamburgers, tacos, or BBQ after your equipment is installed.

Within the food industry, the amount of storage space inside your food trailer is referred to as your capacity. Your capacity will determine the maximum number of customers you can serve at any given event. As an example, if you were operating a taco truck that had available on board storage to make 500 taco plates. In this scenario, if you charge $8.00 per plate of tacos your maximum revenue per day would be $4,016. In this scenario, you would have plenty of storage and being able to serve 500 customers without needing to replenish the supplies on your trailer is a great situation to be in.

rib customer

Another satisfied customer.

If you discovered, however that your maximum capacity of your vehicle was only 50 taco plates, you’ll be severely limiting your upside on the concession unit. In this hypothetical, you would hit a daily revenue ceiling of just $400. If you are a solo operator with a small trailer, you could still technically be turning a small profit with this level of capacity. But why put such a low cap on your potential sales?

In the example above, you’ll likely find that during busy time periods you’ll run out of food to serve and won’t be able to take advantage of demand. This is a missed opportunity as a business owner. This is not a good situation from a customer  experience standpoint either. There’s nothing worse than waiting in line at a food trailer for 10 minutes only to find that they’ve run out of food once you get to the serving window.

How Much Capacity Do You Need?

Everyone’s storage capacity needs will be different. If you operate a coffee truck, it’s very likely you won’t need a whole lot of extra space because coffee beans, milk, cream, and small sides like pastries don’t require a whole lot of space. On the other hand if you’re operating a BBQ trailer that serves a variety of sandwiches and plates, you’re going to need room to store those smoked meats.

One good starting place for determining your trucks overall capacity is to calculate the break-even point for your truck. In other words, how many sales would you need per day to pay off all your expenses. After you determine the minimum sales needed to cover your operating costs like wages, gas, and cost-of-goods sold (COGs), you’ll be able to start playing around with the numbers to find out how much on-board storage you’ll need. Obviously, you want to do much better than breaking even on the concession trailer so make sure you create a maximum single day revenue goal that you would be happy with and go from there.

The formula for a break-even analysis is below:

Total Fixed Costs ÷ ( (Total Sales – Total Variable Costs) / Total Sales) = Break Even Point

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks Booth at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

Quick Options For Increasing Capacity

Enlist help: If you need to restock your shelves in a pinch, having an employee or a family member that can travel off-site to get more supplies is a simple way to make sure you’ve got appropriate capacity at an event. If you have a runner, they are able to drive to the commissary, grocery store, or restaurant supply center to get more product is a simple way to ensure you’re able to maximize sales on your truck. Just make sure you’re not pulling employees from the serving window, which could reduce your throughput times.

Get a second vehicle: At a certain point, there’s only so much storage potential on a mobile concession unit. Another solution that’s been used by our customers is to get a second vehicle dedicated exclusively to food storage. Often a smaller unit like a van is sufficient for this purpose and the vehicle may have little more than some shelving and refrigeration units installed.

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Food Trucks often Double as Disaster Relief Vehicles

When emergencies happen, you need teams of highly-skilled people that can mobilize quickly and travel to a distressed area to help. In critical situations like this people like first responders, fire fighters, nurses, and law enforcement usually come to mind. These people are the first at the scene of a catastrophic event.

But in recent months, seemingly unlikely food trucks have also been called upon to serve their communities after natural disasters. Food trucks answered this call by moving to support emergency workers and victims of storms like Hurricane Irma. When the power goes out and fresh water becomes non-existent these mobile food units are able to travel to the hardest hit areas to offer hot food, water, and in some cases shelter for individuals that have lost everything.

Van D’s Dutch Delights Desert Trailer.

Disaster Relief Vehicle Requirements

Although food trucks and concession trailers were not built with the intent to rush into disaster areas, they are well-equipped and prepared to handle many of these emergency situations. Below are four key reasons mobile food units are often called into action:

Speed: When disaster strikes, you need help that can be mobilized quickly today… Not sometime next week. Food trucks have the ability to spring into action with little notice. Often the only preparation needed is getting the right supplies (water, coffee, food) loaded up onto the truck and taking off.

Mobility: After a natural disaster, a cities electrical grid can be decimated and offline for days or in some instances weeks. This means not only homeowners are without power, but local services like restaurants and gas stations are offline too. Food truck have the ability to drive directly into the most distressed areas and offer services like cold water and a warm meal.

Equipment: Food trailers are already equipped with the right tools to serve emergency victims. There are ovens to heat meals. There are tables to prepare warm meals and refrigeration to keep perishable food cool. There’s also generators already installed so that these units can operate off-the-grid and without any electrical source.

Skilled: Finally, food truck owners have a unique skill set that often goes unnoticed. Food truck owners are accustomed traveling and setting up at events with few amenities. They are also comfortable preparing and distributing food quickly to large groups of people. These are critical skills to have in these scenarios.

SMART Trailer Left Side

Ideally local organizations like fire departments and hospitals will also have mobile medical vehicles on hand with additional specialized equipment for health care purposes. Many hospitals now have mobile clinics to help provide first aid and other emergency services in these events.

Recent Ways Food Trucks Have Served as Disaster Relief Units

According to reports, an average of 844,239 people are impacted by a natural disaster each year in the United States. A disaster could take the form of a flood, wildfire, drought, or hurricane depending on where you live. Here are a few specific ways food trucks have been called into action in recent months:

Napa and Sonoma Counties: Hat tip to Off The Grid that has helped mobilize Bay Area food trucks to serve areas impacted by wild fires within these counties. Food trucks are helping to ensure food donated is distributed to the right areas where people need help the most in these areas.

Las Vegas, Nevada: After the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, restaurants and food trucks banded together to help serve hot meals to first responders and victims of the this event.

South Florida – Pembroke Park and Monroe County have been aided by over 100 total food trucks to distribute free meals to residents. This is an incredible effort by the food truck community and other companies like JetBlue that helped sponsor these important events.

Although disaster relief was never the original intent for these food truck owners, they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve their communities when they needed help most. This is just another example of why we love this industry so much.

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Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show 2017 Exhibitor Review

This week you’ll find M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show running from October 11th – 13th, 2017. This annual event is being held at the Orange County Convention Center and brings together over 8,000 professionals from across the culinary and food service industry. Whether you’re looking for cutting-edge flavor combinations for your menu or looking to grow your existing restaurant franchise this Florida’s premier event to accomplish these goals.

If you plan to be in attendance, we encourage you to head on over to booth 1301 to say hi and check out our display.  Our booth is located on the South end of the convention center near the Costco and Panama Jack Outdoor and Sunroom Skyline Design booths. You can view photos from our exhibitor booth below.

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

Our Booth at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

On display at this year’s event is Tony’s Clam Chowder concession unit built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.  Tony’s Clam Chowder is the fastest growing clam chowder brand in the United States. If you live in Florida, you might already be familiar with enjoying their brand from Albertson’s or Safeway locations or perhaps enjoyed the chowder at an area ma-and-pa restaurant.

Tony’s Clam Chowder uses their concession van as a mobile promotion vehicle that helps introduce their award winning chowder flavors to new customers and also to serve hungry fans at popular events like the Cedar Key Seafood Festival being held from October 21st – 22nd. Some nifty elements of this concession unit include an external television to display a menu or marketing program, an illuminating display case for showing off product, and a serving window built right into the sliding door. Click here for full video tour of Tony’s Clam Chowder. If you happen to be in attendance, come and take a tour of the vehicle yourself!

clam chowder van

Tony’s Clam Chowder

 

interior

Interior kitchen view.

 

Interior view.

Special Events

The conference concludes tomorrow (October 13th, 2017), but there’s still plenty of valuable sessions we look forward to attending. The presentations for this event are broken into different tracks that are critical to any growth-minded restauranteur like operational excellence, hot trends, building a winning team, and increasing customer loyalty. Below is a small sample of the sessions we’re looking forward to seeing including tracks and times:

Menu Design Jedi Mind Tricks 10/13/2017 12:00 PM 12:45 PM Operational Excellence
“It’s All on Me” 10/13/2017 2:00 PM 2:45 PM Build a Winning Team
Culinary Demonstration by Chef DeJuan Roy 10/13/2017 1:00 PM 1:45 PM Culinary Demo

We’ve enjoyed all the people we’ve met at the event so far and look forward to hopefully meeting you at the final day of the event.

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Concession Trailer Plumbing Blue Print / Layout Example

Although requirements for concession trailers differ across the country there are some requirements that are standard across the board. One of the  standard requirements is for a 3-compartment sink and hand washing sink. These requirements are in place for food safety handling reasons and something you want installed on your unit regardless of legal requirements.

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we develop 3 different blue-prints / layouts for each custom build. There is an electrical layout, kitchen layout, and of course a plumbing layout that we will cover in this post. You can view an example of one plumbing layout below.

plumbing blueprint

Plumbing blueprint.

 

One of the challenges of manufacturing a custom truck is that you need to balance the kitchen equipment installed on the concession trailer with the location of plumbing and electrical needs. As a general rule of thumb, we find that a 15 or 16 gallon fresh water tank will work well for most mobile units. Depending on your menu or unique requests (like an installed bathroom), you may need a larger tank. Keep in mind that the larger the tank, the more space it will require inside of your unit.

Additionally, you also need to ensure that you don’t weigh down your concession trailer by going too big. Ideally, you want to be able to safely move your trailer with full fresh water tanks installed for ease of use. The graph below demonstrates how the plumbing can be setup within a concession trailer as an example.

Plumbing diagram on a mobile unit.

Above is a diagram from the plumbing for an RV courtesy of MarxRV.com. Believe it or not, the way a concession plumbing is setup is often highly similar to that of a recreational vehicle. The plumbing for your vehicle will be dependent on your specific needs like how large of a gray water tank you’ll need, where you would like your sinks positioned inside the vehicle and other personal preferences.

One pro tip that often gets overlooked is that you want to make sure you choose a builder that will install top-grade hoses and fittings for your trailer. When dealing with any type of waste water you don’t want to spring a leak 6 – 12 months down the line just to save a few bucks up front.

Benefits of Reliable On-Board Plumbing

Food Preparation: Many vendors operating require water to prepare their menu items. Some hot dog vendors like to boil their sausages. If you’re preparing any type of soup or Vietnamese Pho you’ll need this too if you want to complete the prep work on-board. If your menu items require you to boil or water is an ingredient of a menu item having an onboard plumbing system will make operating more convenient.

Food Safety: Anyone that prepares food for the public should thoroughly wash their hands before, during and after food prep on a concession trailer. This is one of the simplest ways to prevent the germs from spreading and keep your customers safe. You can learn the proper way to wash your hands at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official website.

In addition to clean water, we recommend installing a hand washing sink and soap dispenser onboard every vehicle to make following these recommendations easier. One of the most common mistakes individuals make when washing their hands is not scrubbing long enough. The CDC recommends scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to ensure as much bad bacteria as possible is destroyed.

Cleaning Supplies: As a food vendor, you’ll be regularly cleaning the pans, spoons, spatulas, tongs, and other cookware needed to execute your menu. To accomplish this important task, you’ll need an onboard sink with hot and cold water. You’ll also need a gray water tank to hold the used water as well.

Many cities or counties will require that your waste water tank is 15% larger than your hot / cold water tanks. Consult your local regulators for the specifications in your area. The reason for this is to ensure that you have plenty of extra space in the tank to drain additional waste water. At the conclusion of each event, we strongly recommend draining your gray water tank at your commissary or other approved area.

Bathroom: An increasing number of operators want a bathroom and sometimes even a shower installed on their concession trailer. If you’re going to be spending 8 – 10 hours or more vending at different events with sometimes questionable rest rooms this can be a really nice feature to have. It also means that you won’t be awkwardly meeting customers inside a the public bathroom. Just keep in mind that you will need a significantly larger waste tank if you plan to have this element installed.

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Food Trucks Continue Serving Communities After Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Texas coastline from Corpus Christi to Houston while uprooting thousands of families in between the two cities. For many residents, their businesses and homes have been completely destroyed. Some areas were hit hard by the hurricane winds. Others had walls torn down by rising and rushing water. According to this article from Fortune.com, the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey could top $180 billion.

While there has been a level of destruction and damage the likes we haven’t seen in the United States since Hurricane Katrina there are always examples of the resilience of the human spirit that go on display when events like this happen. Times like these remind us everyone is in this thing together and that we share more similarities than differences.

Hurricane Harvey & Food Trucks

One such example that’s come out of Hurricane Harvey is the story of local food Texas trucks that have donated their time and equipment to serve the residents of their community. Instead of closing up shop these small business owners have mobilized their eateries to deliver much needed meals to areas that have been impacted the most. It’s important to point out as well that these are not Fortune 500 funded companies, but sole proprietors that are operating without the help of multi-million dollar advertising budgets. Their contributions are literally coming out of their own pockets. More often than not they are already donating their time, money, and equipment without any compensation or media attention for their important work.

Texas resident Joel Paprocki of InsureMyFood.com saw first-hand how local food trucks were helping their communities and mobilized a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to help local food trucks serve even more people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Below is a description of this initiative published on the You Caring page:

As we all know, Hurricane Harvey struck the coast of Texas earlier this week leaving many without food and water.  Several Texas based food trucks and trailers have graciously volunteered to donate their time and vehicles to provide food for those desperately in need in the small coastal towns that are still in the process of being evacuated. 

Monies raised will go directly to the cost of food and drinks that will be served to evacuees and first responders from the trucks and trailers that have volunteered their time.  These individuals need our help and this is a great, tangible way to contribute from all parts of the country.  The trucks will deploy to several different smaller cities along the coast that may not be receiving the national attention but are still in need of help. Thank you so much for your support, a donation as small as $5 will feed someone and make a difference!

In addition to the crowd funding campaign organizations like InsureMyFood.com, 5000 Burnett, and Cincinnati Food Truck Association, and U.S. Food Truck Fest have all made significant financial contributions to the cause. As the crowdfunding campaign states, it only takes a contribution of $5 to feed someone and any additional shares on social media makes an impact as well.

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