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How Much Does it Cost to Start a Food Truck?

cost to start a food truck

So you want to start a food truck. While running your own restaurant on wheels sounds like a great way to make a buck and do it on your own terms, it comes with a lot of challenges. First and foremost, there’s a significant cost to even get started with running your own truck. And, if you aren’t well-prepared, you can spend far more than you need to, and still find yourself ill-prepared when the time comes to start bringing in business. Truckster will show you some of the common expenses associated with a food truck so you know what you’re getting into.

Buying The Perfect Food Truck

Obviously, you’re going to need your own truck that you can use anytime. There’s no fixed cost on a food truck, as all sorts of vehicles can be converted into a mobile kitchen. Generally speaking, you can expect anywhere between $50,000 – $200,000 on your new food truck. But remember, that cost alone isn’t the cost of opening your truck. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; the vehicle itself.

Commissary

Many areas will require you to store your truck at a commissary, which is a sort of food truck haven for safe and secure storage of your food and water supplies. You’ll also be able to stock up on gas and propane here.

Commissaries can cost upwards of $1,000 per month or more depending on your location and the services they offer. However, for logistical reasons, it’s often smart to pay for a commissary even if the law doesn’t require it, since they’re often located near the commercial kitchens you’ll be working with.

Labor & Food Prep

You don’t think you’re going to prepping and cooking every last ingredient in your truck, do you?

Certainly not. Whether it’s your own kitchen or a kitchen you license out, you’ll be using a commercial kitchen to do the bulk of your morning prep work before you load up your truck to heat ready-to-serve fare. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a kitchen that’s very close to your commissary or other truck storage location, in order to cut down on the lengthy travel times that limit your potential business hours.

For a well-staffed kitchen, expect to pay close to $30/hr per person. Wages can differ, for example food trucks in Denver, might pay less than food trucks in San Francisco, CA.

Business License

Almost any community where you operate a business is going to require you to register and obtain a business license. There can also be extra fees for businesses like food trucks, which don’t operate in a fixed location. You’ll sometimes even need special permits just to operate your truck in specific parts of town (such as near a stadium or city event).

Permits can cost as little as $500, but run as much as $2,000 or more in some major cities. Make sure to obtain the proper licenses and permits before you start your business, or else you could face fines well in excess of the actual permit costs.

Insurance

Just like your car, your food truck needs to be insured! On top of that, every good business needs to have liability coverage in the event that an employee or customer gets hurt. Insurance policies vary greatly by business and location, but expect to pay a few hundreds dollars per month at the absolute minimum.

Starting a food truck has a lot of high barriers to entry, but can be incredibly rewarding. If you’re tempted to throw your money at a food truck venture, take the time to build a solid business plan and shop for the best equipment deals you can find. Then, make sure to register your new business on Truckster to help new customers find you!

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