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Will Marijuana Food Trucks Be a Legit Business Opportunity in 2019?

While there are many legal hurdles yet to jump, investors believe the legalization of marijuana products is (eventually) a foregone conclusion. Forbes reports the legal cannabis industry could hit $57 billion worldwide 2027.

Marijuana is already permitted for recreational and medical use in nine states, including California, Alaska, and Washington. Of course, the use of this product, remains illegal at the federal level. But it’s legalization at the national level seems all but inevitable at this point, even if the process is expected to take a few years.

There are all kinds of products of course that can be produced and sold in this industry with a seemly limitless number of permutations. One option is to infuse THC into drinks like teas and coffees. Another popular option is to include cannabis inside food items, especially baked goods like brownies, cookies, and cakes. With so many different food items available to be made using the ingredient, it leads us to the next natural question of whether-or-not you can sell cannabis infused drinks or desserts from a truck?

Could Cannabis Infused Cookies Be Sold on a Truck Legally?

Can You Expect to See Cannabis Food Trucks in 2019?

Back in 2014 when cannabis had been legalized in Colorado two years prior, NPR ran a story called “The Latest Food Truck Theme is Marijuana for Lunch.” The headline suggests there was a food truck distributing marijuana infused menu items, but the reality of the unit was created for PR purposes and the the truck was never in operation as a real food business.

The use of the “food truck” was brilliant from a marketing and public relations standpoint as the company was featured in numerous reputable news sources and no doubt generated interest in a product that could be sold online. But the unit never sold any pot-infused menu items.

The issue with starting a food truck specializing in cannabis products is due to the fact this product is much more highly regulated than a typical food product. Although the product is becoming legal in many states that doesn’t mean it won’t be strictly regulated. At the time of writing, even though marijuana is becoming legalized across the country don’t expect to see food trucks serving the product anytime soon. Why?

The best example we can think of for comparison purposes is the alcohol industry. At one time in the United States there was a period of prohibition where you could not legally consume alcohol. Although prohibition has long since ended in the United States, there’s still a ton of rules around its consumption. For example, you must be 21 years of age to legally consume. Not just anyone can drink. An establishment selling alcohol must also be approved to do so with a specific license. Not just any business can sell a pint of beer unless they go through an approval process. There are rules around this products use with legal and financial penalties for not following those rules.

A Highly-Regulated Industry

These regulations will likely prevent food trucks dispenseries from becoming a legitimate business opportunity even if the recreational use is permitted inside the state you want to operate in 2019 and beyond. So far there are extremely specific requirements needed for dispensaries to adhere to before they can sell product that are state dependent. Some states like California have specific requirements for the building and layout that marijuana products can be operated out of like bathrooms, breakrooms, and the layout of the building, making it impossible to serve on a mobile unit from a legal perspective. Here’s an example of requirements for medical cannabis buildings in Santa Rosa, California.

There are some very legitimate reasons for the building requirements as well for marijuana dispensaries at this time. First, is that cannabis products are still illegal on a federal level. This means that many dispensaries operate cash only businesses since banks will not process transactions that are technically illegal.

Due to this challenge processing payments, it means dispensary’s carry a lot of cash on hand that can make operating the business more dangerous. In fact, some these business need to have armored vehicles regularly visit their location in take cash and make deposits. As you might expect, high-volume locations could process tens of thousands in cash per day. The goal of these businesses is to never keep too much money on-site and many have large safes and security employed to protect the high-value product and cash.

Of course, if you were to operate a truck, you would be more exposed to theft. You are much more exposed to dangerous criminals in a truck compared to a building with security systems and protection. As the rules and regulation continue to evolve allowing banks to accept payments from these businesses.

At the end of the day, it’s a safe bet that you won’t be seeing cannabis food truck driving around your neighborhood anytime soon like you might see the ice cream man. With all that being said, it will be fun to watch this new industry evolve and grow in the coming years.

Five Ideas to Convert a School Bus into a Mobile Kitchen

First, it was old delivery trucks that were converted into gourmet food trucks. Today, an increasing number of food vendors are serving meals from a converted school bus that’s been transformed into a commercial kitchen. In today’s post, we evaluate some of the best menu ideas we’ve seen on these converted school buses often referred to as food “skoolies” to help you determine if this type of build is the right choice for your business.

Before jumping on the school bus bandwagon there are some important considerations to think about. First, a converted bus is a lot larger and longer than a standard food truck. According to Wikipedia, the length of an average food truck is 45 feet. Most floor plans for standard food trucks don’t exceed 20 feet in length.

A 45-foot school bus.

The extra space available with a bus can be an advantage or disadvantage to vendors depending on how you look at it. One advantage is you can work in a much larger commercial kitchen. That means you can comfortably fit more employees inside the bus to crank-out orders at a rapid pace. This extra space also means offering a broader range of menu items can be offered. Alternatively, you could use the extra space for food storage. Some food buses have even used the extra space to create limited indoor seating inside their vehicle. You are only limited by your own imagination on how to use the extra space.

Now for the disadvantages. If you operate in a large city, it’s going to be harder to navigate tight urban streets with a bus. It’s a whole lot harder to find street parking when you’re trying to find a 45-foot long spot. Not an easy thing to do in most downtown areas!

The other downside rarely reported on these buses is that the gas mileage stinks. It’s not uncommon to get between 4 – 6 miles per gallon of gasoline. Of course, how you drive the bus and environmental variables will have an impact on that estimate too. At the time of writing gas prices are low (relatively speaking). But in the unlikely scenario we see gas prices go up to $3.00 or more nationally that could really impact your profitability and might put you at risk of going out of business.

No matter how you spin it, you can get around more economically with a food truck in most situations.  If you operate a trailer, you might be able to pull your food unit for 15 – 20 miles per gallon of gas. Depending on how far you plan to travel for events, this decision to convert a bus that could mean adding thousands of dollars in annual expenses. Don’t take this decision lightly!

Five Awesome Menu Ideas That Work Well on Converted School Buses

Bobo’s BBQ Concession Trailer built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks

Truth be told, you can execute any of these menu ideas on a food truck, trailer, or even a sprinter van in some instances. What a bus will allow you to do is go bigger with any of the menu concepts. Want to start an ice cream bus? You could offer 32 flavors or more! Planning a mobile coffee shop? You could offer on-vehicle seating that allows customers to temporarily escape the wind, rain, or cold at an outdoor event. Here are a few concepts that have worked well on a bus for other business owners:

The Coffee Bus: One a 45-foot long bus, you’ll be able to install all the equipment you need to match the beverage options of a brick-and-mortar coffee shop. The other nice option is the ability to create an long and attractive coffee bar on the outside of the vehicle allowing more customers to sit and enjoy their drink. If you plan to operate this business in a warmer, year-round climate then operating a stationary coffee bus can be an exceptional option. There are many coffee shops operating out of converted shipping containers, but buses can work just as well.

The Crepe Bus: Amazing Crepes in White Fish, Montana, is an excellent example of a crepe bus. On this unit, the operators serve a variety of sweet or savory crepe options, including ham and cheddar or Nutella and banana. Some unique beverages are also served from this unit like house made ginger lemonade! It’s a winner.

The Burger Bus: You won’t need a full-size school bus to serve mouth-watering burgers. One popular example of a burger bus in action is Bernie’s Burger Bus in Texas. Bernie’s Burger Bus has grown in popularity over the years and now has multiple units operating in the state.

The Ice Cream Bus: With a bus, you can offer an extensive range of ice cream and soft-serve options. Whether you want to compete with flavor options brick-and-mortar competitors or offer a jaw dropping range of desert options from soft-serve to snow cones this can be a great option. The only aspect you’ll want to keep in mind is that ice cream and soft-serve machines require a lot of energy to power. You will need a lot of generator power to keep your product cool.

Full-Service Restaurant Bus: As mentioned previously, one of the advantages of a bus is that you can build in a lot of cooking equipment and food storage too. This allows you to serve multi-course meals that smaller food trucks can’t realistically pull off.

You’ll notice that most food trucks have a lean menu. Many mobile units focus on serving 3 – 5 core items. A bus, on the other hand, will enable you to serve a much larger menu that reflects what you would expect to see at a restaurant. This gives you the potential advantage of serving a much larger menu. You could also serve bigger traditional meals including sides and all the fixings.

If you’re trying to decide if a bus, food truck, trailer or other vehicle is best for your business, give us a call. We’ve been manufacturing mobile food units for over 15 years and can help you determine the right type of custom build unit that matches your needs.

The Starting Quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagle’s Just Opened a Food Truck

The starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, Carson Wentz, has a new side gig as a food truck vendor. Well… Sort of.

Wentz has a new charitable food truck named Thy Kingdom Crumb offering free meals to those in need in the Philadelphia area. The food truck made its debut in late August at Acme Markets in Philly. For the grand opening both Wentz and super-star teammate Zach Ertz distributed meals.

If you live in the Philadelphia area, you can view the truck in person at regular season home games at Lincoln Financial Field throughout the year.

The goal of the food truck is to use food as a means of community outreach and demonstrating God’s unconditional love. There’s no cost and no strings attached to anyone that wants a meal from the vehicle. You could be a struggling college student or a high-earning doctor getting off a shift. Everyone is welcome to enjoy a free meal. The mobile organization plans to serve both individuals and other non-profits across Philly with the vehicle.

Meals and a Mission

The meals being served from this unit aren’t what one might expect from a free food truck either. “We’re definitely not dishing out cafeteria style food that’s for sure,” explains the trucks chef. Meals being served during the first service of the vehicle include chicken and shrimp salad. There’s also hot BBQ chicken sandwiches available. In total, enough food was cooked to feed 2,500 people for the first service.

As you might expect, Carson Wentz isn’t pulling off this vision alone. He has an entire team of volunteers that help to execute the vision. Volunteers from a variety of organizations and churches help prep and distribute the food. Reverend Kyle Horner of Connect Church helps drive the truck to events.

You can learn more about the launch of Thy Kingdom Crumb by watching the video above. In the video, Carson Wentz explains his desire to give back to the community of Philadelphia. The piece also gives you a behind the scenes on the food truck being wrapped and rolled out for the first time. This food truck is part of Wentz’s Audience of 1 Foundation. You can learn more about the organization and its goals here.

This week and weekend marks the start of the 2018 NFL regular season. Wentz is starting out the season on the injured reserve due to a knee injury, but is expected to return to action in the coming weeks. We wish Wentz nothing but the best on his on and off-field endeavors in 2018.

Top Four Most Profitable Food and Beverage Kiosks in Shopping Malls

Signing a long-term lease in a high-traffic shopping mall can be extremely expensive and risky if your food concept isn’t proven. According to this article on MarketWatch.com, you should expect to pay between $50 – $100 per square foot monthly for the most desirable retail spaces in America. In smaller shopping malls in mid-size metro you can expect to pay more $15 – $25 per square foot. Either way, the monthly dues are significant.

That means if you decide to lease a modest sized location, you can expect to pay $1,500 – $5,000 in rent minimum each month. This obligation is even more daunting considering many landlords require a multi-year lease commitment that can leave entrepreneurs on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in commitments. But if these expensive monthly rents don’t fit into your business plan, we have good news. There are more affordable options that still allow you to leverage the foot traffic of a shopping mall to reach customers.

The solution for your business could be to start a food or beverage kiosk in a food court or shopping mall kiosk instead of a storefront. The first advantage of this path is the cost. As you might expect, renting a kiosk location in a mall will be much more affordable than the alternative. In some locations you’ll be able to get started for $800 per month in rent.

In addition to the lower monthly rent, shorter lease terms are common with kiosks or carts. It’s not out of the ordinary for a mall kiosk to rent a space in only the most profitable months of the year from October – December. After the peak sales season is over, vendors leave and often don’t return until the holiday season next year.

The ability to structure a short-term lease agreement is much more advantageous for vendor’s. It’s been well documented that the American shopping mall and retail industry isn’t as vibrant as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. If you started a food kiosk in a shopping center and sales begin to dwindle, you can quickly adapt and easily move the business to a more profitable location. This isn’t an option for stores with a 5-year lease agreement in place.

If you’re in the market for a food service kiosk, you aren’t short on options. An almost unlimited menu of food items can be served from these versatile and mobile units including hot dogs, pretzels, corn dogs, pizza, coffee, smoothies, gourmet popcorn, and ice cream are the tip of the iceberg. They are even versatile enough to be used to vend indoors or at open air shopping centers.

All that being said, below is a list of highly profitable menu concepts that work well with a kiosk. These kiosks are often positioned in malls, but if you think outside the box can be profitably placed in other locations too like college campuses, casinos, hospitals, or large corporate offices.

Snow cone or Shaved Ice Kiosk

Below is an example of a snow cone kiosk recently built for a customer. This kiosk was designed to be taken to a mall or area events. Since mobility was important to this customer we used all aluminum material for the cart so that it would be light and transported easily.

As you’ll see in the video everything the vendor needs to operate their snow cone / shaved ice business is right here. There’s even room for storage available inside this mobile unit. Units like this start at around $9,000 making this a viable opportunity for anyone. Depending on the size of the cup, it can cost as little as $.20 cents per snow cone to the vendor (depending on size). This same snow cone can be sold for $3.00 in most locations making it extremely high-margin.

Mobile Coffee Kiosk

No doubt you’ve seen a coffee kiosk at a mall, airport, or even a grocery store. In fact, these little coffee kiosks are so profitable that publicly traded companies like Starbucks have jumped on the bandwagon. You can also take advantage of this too! As you may be aware, beverages are an extremely profitable category… especially coffee.

It goes without saying that you want to serve a high-quality product. According to this Investopedia article, you can get a premium pound of coffee for about $15.00. You should be able to serve about 23 cups of 12 oz. coffee conservatively per pound. This breaks down to around $0.65 cents per cup. Add on another $.35 cents for the cost of the cup, lid, napkin, complimentary sugar and cream. You could then charge $2.00 per cup for a basic premium roast and be profiting around $1.00 per cup. Naturally you would be charging more for foam, flavor pumps, Espressos and other drinks. Either way, it’s a highly profitable space to be in.

Smoothie Kiosk

The smoothie kiosk is another option that can be highly profitable and aligns well with the people’s goals to eat and drink healthy. The most popular smoothie options include flavors like strawberry or blueberry. But there are plenty of niche varieties that can be served to cater to a specific audience. For example, you could offer a line of organic smoothies. You could also serve smoothies designed to provide protein and build muscle or an extra Vitamin C boost to fight cold and flu season. The options here are almost limitless. A regular sized smoothie can retail for $6 – $8 a piece leaving the business owner plenty of profitability as well.

Ice Cream Kiosk

Finally, the ice cream kiosk is an extremely popular and beloved option in shopping malls. This kiosk can come in many different forms, including soft serve, frozen yogurt or scooped ice cream. No matter where you plan to conduct business this a highly profitable concept, no matter what variation you choose.

Let’s say for example you decide on an old-school ice cream shop concept with scoops. You should be able to get a premium tub of ice cream for around $30. You’ll get 55 four-once scoops of ice cream per tub working out to a grand total of $0.55 per scoop. As the business owner, you should build a buffer into these figures of course because everyone has waste and scoop size is not an exact science. You’d be hard pressed to find an gourmet ice cream place serving cones under $3.00 a piece… Leaving you the business owner with plenty of margin.

The next time you go to a mall, pay attention to the different types of food service kiosks that are in operation. You’ll likely stumble across other variations not covered in this piece like soft pretzels or kettle corn. There are literally hundreds of food business opportunities like this that can be started affordably and with less risk than investing in a traditional retail space. The combination of lower cost, increased mobility, and flexibility to offer a wide range of menus make these businesses attractive.

What is a Loncheras Food Truck?

A loncheras truck is a food truck serving Mexican faire like tacos and burritos. The rough translation of lonchera from Spanish into English is “lunch box.” These roaming vessels are often referred to as taco trucks as well.

If you live in Los Angeles or the surrounding area the sight of a loncheras truck is nothing new. They’ve been serving affordable meals decades before the gourmet food truck movement took ever hold in the United States.

Loncheras are small businesses owned by a Mexican or Mexican-American family and employing only members of the family. You can often spot these trucks serving families or workers in lower-income neighborhoods. In short, these are straight-forward small businesses that provide a basic income for the owners / operators.

Unlike their gourmet food truck counterparts, you won’t be able to find a website for a loncheras truck. Most aren’t active on social media either. These trucks have been serving the same communities for years and don’t do any forms of marketing aside from word of mouth and being at the right place at the right time positioning themselves where people are hungry.

The other difference between gourmet truck is that loncheras will often have a regular location that they vend every day. In this sense, they are highly similar to a brick-and-mortar restaurant with regular hours of operation and can be found in the same spot. This also reduces the need for social media since the location of the food doesn’t change.

Just like an old-school lunch truck, these businesses look for locations with demand and under-served food options like construction sites or residential areas without nearby food service.

Loncheras Menus

The menus of the loncheras haven’t changed much over the last few decades. Usually, you’ll find all the Mexican food you’re familiar with like street tacos or burritos. Street tacos are smaller, hand-held tacos that can include a variety of proteins like chicken, ground beef, or steak.

The advantage of operating a lonchera or any Mexican food business is that you can offer an extensive menu with only a few core ingredients. Tacos, burritos, tortas (a Mexican sandwich), and plates can be served with minor adaptations like a different shell or wrap.

Some lonchera operators offer menu items that go beyond the basics, however. This can include bacon wrapped hot dogs with grilled onions, a popular street food offering. Another popular adaptation is to put Carna Asada and melted cheese on top of tortilla chips or French fries as a creative spin on nachos.

Some of these vendors have adapted their menus to meet the dietary preferences of their customers as well. Potatoes for example is a filling and affordable replacement for meat items for vegetarians. Of course, there’s always been the option to enjoy a cheese enchilada or quesadilla.

Business Requirements of Loncheras Trucks

There’s a perception among some people that loncheras don’t need to adhere to the same health regulations of other businesses. This couldn’t be further from the truth. These businesses have the exact same requirements as food trucks and restaurants.

If you operate a loncheras truck in Los Angeles County, you will need to use a commissary. A commissary is a commercial kitchen that can be rented by caterers and other small food businesses to prep food in a safe area. The use of a commissary is a requirement for all mobile food vendors in many cities. These commissaries often charge between $800 – $1,500 monthly to rent a space and even park the truck overnight. Naturally, these businesses must pay their fair share of taxes and submit to routine health inspections if they would like to continue operating legally.

Similar to the fabled roach coach, the loncheras food trucks still carry a certain stigma among older customers that can recall eating from these questionably clean vehicles. Fortunately, the rise of the gourmet food truck has gone a long way to improving this perception, especially among younger customers. As a general rule of thumb, there’s no need to be concerned about the health and cleanliness of most of these trucks.

To learn more about the history of loncheras food trucks check out these informative pieces:

How Tamales and Tacos Launched a Billion Dollar Food Truck Industry: This is arguably the best article on the history of taco trucks online. This piece takes you back to the tamale wagons of the 1870s – 1940s all the way up to present day. It’s also an excellent piece on how the mobile food industry has continued to evolve.

Top 10 Taco Trucks of LA: Take a look at some of the top-rated loncheras taco trucks in operation within the confines of Los Angeles.

Four of the Best Tasting Pho Food Trucks on the Planet

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup. With the popularity of foreign food increasing each year, it is not surprising that Pho is gaining a lot of attention. There are even Pho food trucks now that serve this savory dish. Here are the four best Pho food trucks that you can find anywhere.

What Is That Pho?

Before we visit the top Pho food trucks out there, we need to talk a little about the food they serve. As mentioned earlier, Pho came from Vietnam. While Vietnamese cuisine may not be as popular as Chinese or Japanese, it is gaining many followers recently.

It certainly helped a lot when former President Obama ate with Anthony Bourdain at a small Vietnamese restaurant when he visited the country.

Pho is a kind of soup, made with rice noodles, meat, broth, and herbs. It is a common street food in Vietnam, so it is not surprising that food trucks are serving it now in the States.

At first, the food was popularized in other countries by the flood of Vietnamese refugees fleeing the war in their country, but now, with the help of the internet, more and more people are willing to try it out.

The Best Pho Food Trucks

Here are four of the best Pho food trucks that are around today:

Pho Real, Reno

In the video, Elijah Brhel, the owner, speaks for a Pho Real food truck that operates around the Reno area. Elijah says that he tries to source all their ingredients locally.

Elijah gave some explanation as to why the soup is so popular. He believes one of the reasons is because it is so homey and simple. At the same time, it can also be made spicier and more ingredients can be added to it.

They make their own broth and they added their own twist to it. Instead of making the traditional Pho broth, they are making a veggie broth. Except for the buns and the noodles, they make everything else that they serve.

The most popular variation they have is their Fried Brussels Sprouts. They have Facebook Page and a website where customers can find where they will be located for a day.

Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck, North Carolina

Food Network fans might be familiar with this next entry. Sophia Woo and Sunny Lin of Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck were winners of the Food Network’s “The Great American Food Truck Race”.

They explained that the food they serve is more like nature and nurture. They also said that they are kind of playful with the food they serve, which means that they don’t stay in one realm. The only thing that kind of remains constant with their food is that it stays Asian.

Of course, they serve Pho on the truck but they have other options as well. For example, they have dumplings and even Taiwanese spaghetti. One of their favorites is their version of the Bulgogi, which is a traditional Korean barbecue.

The pair said that without the support of the community, they could not have attained the success that they have reached so far. They mentioned friends who helped in building the food truck and the Kickstarter campaign that they started which helped raise the funds for the project.

They have plans on opening up a brick and mortar restaurant but they won’t be giving up the truck which has made a name for them. Also, they are giving out to the community by accepting donations for Haven House.

Pho King Awesome Food Truck, Long Beach

It seems obligatory for food trucks to be named with puns and this next entry is no exception. Pho King Awesome Food Truck, is a family owned business based in Long Beach area. It is gaining quite a following in the area. No doubt the name alone turns many heads.

Their most popular dish is, of course, their Pho King noodle. After all, it is what they named their business after. They have ox tail, beef brisket, and other variations of the broth.

For the video, they prepared an ox tail based Pho and they also served the crew their own taco version, which is kind of sweet and spicy.

Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food, Tucson

Owned by Nghia Tran, from Saigon who has been living in the States for several years now, the Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food Truck serves traditional Vietnamese style food like Pho, Vietnamese meatballs, and also Chinese food.

They use different kinds of pork for their Vietnamese style sandwich. They serve their Pho noodles in two packages. One is for the broth and the noodles, while the other one is for most of the meats.

These are just four of the leading Pho food trucks in the country. Because Pho and other similar street foods are  gaining popularity today, you can expect more of these kinds of food trucks to become more common in the future.

Important Note: None of these food trucks listed in the videos above were built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

The Typical Day in the Life of a Crepe Truck

Part of the appeal of food trucks is that they bring a wider variety of specialty foods to people.

While restaurants do offer exotic and foreign foods, food trucks make them more accessible. Crepes would be a good example of this. Crepes are thin pastries that are kind of like really thin pancakes. While most people in the United States have heard of crepes, establishments that offer them are not that common. At least not as common as hamburger stands and that is why mobile trucks that serve crepes are very interesting.

From a business standpoint, crepes are highly profitable items to sell as well. According to Pancake World, you can expect to net $2.43 per portion sold assuming you sell each crepe for $4.10. While this profit margin does not factor in employee wages or fee’s associated with vending at select events, having a food cost of around 50% is fantastic for a food business.

In many parts of the United States, it’s not  uncommon for customers to pay between $5.00 – $8.00 per crepe. This level of pricing elasticity gives you a lot of options as a business owner to get creative with business opportunities since there’s money after all your expenses to share with groups that want to fund raise.

If you’re wondering what it would be like to operate a crepe business yourself, here are two short videos about crepe food trucks that should give you a few ideas on what an average day is really like.

Holy Crepe Food Truck

Holy Crepes food truck operates in the Bethesda, Maryland area. It is owned and run by Boris Lambrev and his wife. They opened up in March 2016. Boris has experience in the crepe business before, but it was not a food truck and he was working for someone else as an employee. Eventually he decided that it would be better if he would strike out on his own to build a mobile food business.

He first learned making crepes when he was in Cyprus then he moved to Greece, where he continued making crepes. They offer all kinds of crepes, from sweet to savory ones.

One of the problems that Boris cited in connection with running a food truck business is that the space is quite limited. He even jokingly said that the lack of space can lead to silly fights between him and his wife.

Things you can get from this short video:

  • A glimpse of what it’s like inside a small food truck.
  • Possible food truck ideas.
  • A short description of how a food truck business started, which can be inspiring.

If you live around the Bethesda area, you might happen to see the Holy Crepe truck going around. Be sure to taste their crepes which has that authentic taste to it.

Crepe Company Food Truck

Orlando is a very diverse city. That means there is no shortage there when it comes to the food options that are available. It is also home to many unique food trucks. The Orlando Food Truck Guide is a video series that aims to explore the diverse food truck scene in the city. For its first episode, the series features the Crepe Company Food Truck.

Crepe Company is the idea of Lisa “Crepe Lady” Fareed. She said that she got the idea for selling crepes when she went to France and she fell in love with the pastry. She was amazed with how the vendors would make the crepe right in front of her. She wanted to bring that whole experience to the States.

Crepe Types

When it comes to the kinds of crepes that they offer, Lisa says that they aim towards having more American-style options. They still have French-style crepes though for those who want a more authentic feel.

Unlike many of those who run a food truck business, Lisa does not have a background in the restaurant or food service industry. She has a degree in finance, but she says that she’s a foodie, which is what drove her to dare to start her own food truck business.

How She Got Started

Lisa started her business back in 2009. She purchased her food truck back in 2011. One amazing thing about the business is the truck itself. It’s not a modern food truck but a converted 1971 Olson Kurbmaster Junior. Lisa bought the vehicle off Craiglist and had it converted so it would have all the features needed for serving crepes.

Despite the upgrade, the truck has an unmistakable vintage feel to it which makes it even more interesting. It’s also running on battery power and Lisa has plans to have to outfitted for solar power, which would become completely self-sufficient when it comes to energy.

Making the Crepes

Lisa says that it takes about a minute and a half for a customer to order and then to get his crepe. That’s quite fast and that is why Lisa makes them fresh to order.

Lisa showed how she made an American-style crepe. It has bacon, turkey, cheddar, tomato, and other ingredients. She also made a Monte Cristo, which she says is one of the more popular types that they have. It has cheddar, mozzarella, raspberry sauce, ham, and turkey. She also made one with Nutella hazelnut spread with banana. Lisa added that the Crepe Company is now open for franchising if this is an opportunity that piques your interest.

Learn from a food truck owner how she got started: In the early days of starting the business Lisa didn’t own a food truck. In fact, Lisa operated Crepe Company as a “pop-up” business for the first two years before investing in a mobile food unit. This is an important lesson for entrepreneurs starting out.

So many times first time business owners believe they need to wait for something to happen before opening for business. For example, not starting the business until they have a food truck. Or not starting a business until they own a restaurant. The key takeaway from this story is you shouldn’t wait until everything is perfect to get started. You can begin testing out your recipes, making sales, and building a brand much earlier than that.

If you are interested in crepes, then these videos should give you a good glimpse of how your business might look like. Hopefully, there are a few ideas here that you can use if you are going to get your own food truck business running.

Reader Note: M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks did not build the trucks shown in the YouTube videos above.

What’s Financial Expert Dave Ramsey’s Opinion on the Food Truck Industry?

In a recent episode of The Dave Ramsey Show, the financial expert of the same name took a call from a prospective food truck business owner. True to form, Ramsey offered candid advice on the next steps the caller Isabelle in Houston should take to improve her personal finances and operate the food truck business profitably. Click the play button below to listen to the full 8-minute segment of the show.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey’s program, listeners call-in seeking advice on a variety of personal finance topics. Many of the callers to Dave’s program are looking for ways to get out of debt by reducing monthly expenses. Others folks call in with questions about retirement planning to dealing with finances in a relationship.

What’s Financial Expert Dave Ramsey’s Opinion on the Food Truck Industry?

Isabelle opens up the call by providing some details about her business planning process to give Dave some insight into the venture. Break even point is in 3 – 4 months after opening. This is the point where the business will begin covering all of it’s expenses. For a concession trailer this usually includes transportation, inventory (food), labor, permits, and other expenses. Once the business is up and running, Isabelle has estimated that she will have a take home or net profit of $70,000 annually for operating the business.

It should be mentioned that Dave Ramsey does not have experience operating a food truck business. That being said Dave is extremely knowledgeable about what it takes to operate a profitable business and understands the numbers. Dave begins by complimenting the caller on the initial forecasting of the business, but asks how Isabelle came to her conclusions for revenue estimates.

Isabelle shares that she surveyed what other food trucks where making in the area to estimate daily revenue. Based on Isabelle’s survey of local food trucks in her area she estimated that she could expect to generate $600 – $900 in daily sales.

Related Reading: What is the Average Food Truck Owner’s Annual Salary?

After learning that Isabelle had taken a logical approach to estimating her daily sales numbers, Dave inquired about the biggest recurring expense in the operations plan… Hiring an employee. Not only was Isabelle planning to hire an employee, but she had also planned to pay for some training and certifications.

As Dave points out in the program, hiring can quickly become the biggest recurring expense for a food business. And while it might make sense to hire in the future, if Isabella was able to operate the food truck on her own initially it would make getting in the black much easier. Isabella agrees she can operate the coffee truck business solo initially.

Finally, Isabelle asks if she should take a loan out to start the business. Dave explains that he never recommends taking out a loan to start a business in any situation. (Cutting up your credit cards and not having any debt is sort of Dave’s thing.) That being said, Dave suggests getting a sales job and living off beans and rice to cut expenses until she is able to purchase the trailer in full.

Overall Dave’s analysis of the food truck business is fascinating and after the hearing about the business model is noticeably excited for Isabelle. Dave even invites the Isabelle to return to the show after her business is launched. It’s great to see that with the appropriate business planning, research, and work ethic that a financial power house like Dave Ramsey sees the business opportunity that exist in mobile food vending.

Why NYC’s Snowday Food Truck Offers Job Training to Youth With Criminal Backgrounds

“People who run criminal organizations have all those (business) skills. They just have been put in the wrong and negative space,” explains Roy Waterman, Director of Program for Drive Change. The goal of Watermans’ organization is to train, mentor, and employ formerly incarcerated young men and women by working on a food truck.

As a former inmate himself, Waterman understands how difficult it can be to turn your life around and become a productive member of society. When you are raised in an environment where all you see if drug use and criminal activity, it can be almost impossible to break out of this negative cycle.

What compounds the difficulty of returning from incarceration is that it becomes infinitely harder to get a job. No one wants to hire a criminal that might steal from the business or cause other problems. It’s just too big of a risk.

But without the ability to get a job that pays respectably, former inmates end up frustrated and fall back into their old survival habits. The goal of Drive Change based in New York City is to provide a positive opportunity to these people that are often forgotten or ignored by most of society.

How a Food Truck Can Serve as a Life Changing Platform

The food truck that Drive Change operates is called Snowday. Snowday’s menu is based around grilled cheese sandwiches, a popular item on mobile food trucks. The food truck also won a prestigious Vendy Award in 2015.

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t recognize the social goal of the food truck. From a day-to-day operational standpoint, the food truck looks and acts like any other unit you see serving folks across NYC. As the video below demonstrates, the average day on a food truck starts in the early morning as Snowday is on the road traveling to a vending location at 8 a.m.

The goal for employees of Snowday is for it to be a transitional, but live changing experience. Each individual that goes through the program will work on the truck for a period of 6 – 12 months. After their fellowship is up, these folks will typically go into another job within the food industry or go to school full-time. Either way, the truck provides a positive work experience and job training that can be leveraged to provide entry into the workforce.

As highlighted in the video above the individuals being trained through Snowday became incarcerated for a laundry list of reasons like bank robbery or possession of drugs. Although their reasons for getting into trouble are all different, the common thread among each of these employees is that they want to make a change. They’ve learned their lesson the hard way and want to move forward.

In conclusion, it’s incredible to be able to see how impactful a food truck can be for individuals when aligned with the right mission. Visit the Drive Change website to learn more about the goals of this important organization.

Do Food Trucks Need to Pay Taxes in the United States?

The 2018 deadline for submitting your business or personal income taxes in the United States is nearly upon us. In 2018, the deadline for submitting these taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is April, 17th. This date is even labeled as Tax Day on most calendars. Depending on your situation this date is something you dread or is just another day because you filed your taxes in advance over a month ago.

No matter what end of this spectrum you find yourself at, as Tax Day moves closer people have questions about the tax code and law. One frequently asked question we’ve seen is whether or not food trucks really need to pay taxes? We aren’t sure how this rumor came to be, but it’s not true. Food trucks are obligated to pay taxes just like any other registered business.

Believe it or not there is no food truck loophole in the tax code that we could find. If your goal is to somehow avoid taxes by starting a food truck it won’t work in any territory within the United States. You’ll be obligated to pay Uncle Sam his fair share just like everyone else.

It’s unclear how the rumor that food trucks don’t need to pay taxes came to be. It could be an idea that goes back to the old roach coaches of years past that would serve questionable food without a business liscense. It could also be yet another misunderstanding about the food truck industry. Either way, food trucks, concession trailers and other vendors are required to pay their fair share of taxes to the government.

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While you can’t avoid paying taxes by starting a food truck there are some basics you can do to reduce your tax burden at the end of the year:

State Taxes: Where you live makes a big different in how much you pay in taxes each year with a food truck. States like Nevada and Florida have no state income tax at the time of writing. On the other hand states like Minnesota and California have an income tax of well over 6%, which can really eat into profit for a small business.

Business Expenses: Many of the costs associated with operating a food truck business can be written off as legitimate business expenses. Some common examples of expenses will include mileage to travel to different vending locations. Also any wages paid to employees or investments made into new cooking equipment can be listed here. The simplest way to track your business expenses is to have an account or credit card that is only used for business purposes. This will make it easier to download the charges you made in the previous business year from your bank’s website. Make sure to keep as many receipts as possible as a record of purchases.

One thing to keep in mind is that we are not tax professionals so don’t take this a legal tax advise. You should always consult a certified professional that can provide guidance based on your situation and goals. With that being said the above tips are all smart ideas to bring up to your tax professional to see how they apply to your business.

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