The Best Cities in America to Start a Food Truck

So many chefs have had the idea of starting a food truck business at some point. While we stress that it is far from easy, there are some cities in America we’ve selected as being the best for food truck startups for various reasons.

Atlanta
Just a few years ago Atlanta food trucks weren’t really on the map. Food trucks have become such a popular choice for Atlanta chefs that it is difficult to find a used food truck for sale anywhere nearby. Expect to see a lot more new food truck brands in the next year or so but if you’re open to traveling out of state to buy your food truck you can get in before the rush and establish yourself early.

San Francisco
Even more of a challenge is finding a food truck for rent or a food truck for sale in San Francisco. The industry is well-developed and San Fran food truck patrons are loyal to their favorite brands. It can be a tricky city to start a food truck with the lack of used trucks and permitting rules, but if your food truck wins the heart of the people you will have it forever.

Portland
If you want to start a crazy comfort food truck with an artistic flair, you’ve come to the right place. One thing you can usually count on with Portland trucks is great food that is likely also organic and sustainable. If that’s your thing you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Speaking of which, Portland is also one of the friendliest cities to register a food truck. They even offer rush service for a nominal fee if you’re eager to get started.

Seattle
Another city that has expanded the food truck scene lately is Seattle. It’s no wonder that a city known for an outdoor market would be a great place to find food truck fare. Since new legislation was introduced in 2011, the process for starting a food truck business has been streamlined to encourage street vendors to set up shop. New food truck festivals pop up every year, including the recent Food Trucks For A Cause, which supports world hunger initiatives.

New York City

Despite having an extremely difficult permitting process (think taxi medallions), New York’s food trucks serve some of the best street food in the country and New Yorkers have embraced food trucks in recent years. These days nearly every cuisine is represented by NYC food trucks and you can sample the world on foot and without a reservation. It’s also one of the most popular cities for corporate food truck promotions.

Austin
This city was born to be a food truck hotspot. With a great music and art scene, good climate and an appreciation for both good barbecue and fine dining, the stars aligned for gourmet food trucks. SXSW is one of the best ways for new trucks to introduce themselves to the scene and many startup food trucks in the city rush to get up and running in time for their music festival debut.

Los Angeles
Where it all began. Not only did the City of Angels invent the gourmet food truck trend, it’s also home to more food trucks than any other city in America. Some of the most well-known food truck brands started here, including Kogi, Baby’s Badass Burgers and the Lobsta Truck. Even though there are a lot of trucks already on the streets there is a lot of love for street food in LA. Summer festivals like Abbot Kinney’s First Friday’s and Street Food Cinema attract record crowds. It’s even possible to lease a truck and get your own business started in a matter of weeks.

8 Things to Consider When You Lease or Rent Your Food Truck

foodtrucklawimageIf you’re not ready to get rid of your food truck but are no longer running your business, you’ll likely be considering renting your truck. Whether you are renting your truck for short or long term periods, there are quite a few things to think about:

1. Maintenance Schedule

It is typically the responsibility of the truck owner to handle the regular maintenance of the truck. Prior to renting we strongly suggest you work out a plan for the upkeep of the truck and where the work will be done. If you are drafting a lease agreement, be sure to separate the responsibility of the repairs due to wear and tear (i.e. oil changes) vs. damage caused by the lessee.

2. Insurance

It is up to you if you want to include the insurance on the food truck you are leasing. Renters often provide basic auto insurance and leave it to the lessee to obtain supplementary insurance if they wish to do so. Be sure to clearly define what you will and will not offer in the lease agreement.

3. Security Deposits

Even if insurance will cover any major damage to the truck, a security deposit can come in handy. It can be used to cover any unpaid traffic or parking violations, unpaid claim deductibles, or small repairs that may not warrant an insurance claim. It also helps to ensure renters take good care of your truck.

4. Mileage Limits

Including limits for mileage in your lease agreement helps ensure the truck will be kept local. Due to the weight of the kitchen, food trucks don’t usually do well with long haul travel. It’s up to you if you want to make exceptions for lessees who want to attend festivals and events out of town. If it is more than 50 miles we recommend shipping the truck via flatbed.

5. Alterations / Modifications

In most cases your renter will have chosen your truck because it has all the equipment he/she requires to operate. If you agree to allow modifications to the interior of the truck, be sure to check with your local health department. Changing the equipment may cause your current permits to be voided. Exterior modifications, like the installation of a graphic wrap, do not affect the permits of the truck but they can cause underlying paint damage. It’s a good idea to get a small deposit for paint touch-up if a wrap is to be installed. You can refund the money if the truck is returned with no external damage.

6. Licensing

Every city, county, and state have their own rules for licensing food truck businesses. Typically both a business license and a food truck-specific permit are required to operate. As the county operating permit is usually linked to the truck, truck owners usually take care of permits for the main county where the truck is used. Additional permits (for nearby counties or special zones) are left to the renter to secure.

7. Commissary / Parking

Some counties require that food trucks be registered with a licensed commissary. It’s a good idea to use a commissary even if it is not required by law. Commissaries are usually secured parking areas, you’ll have access to proper cleaning facilities and you typically have easy access to propane and ice to restock. This type of parking does have a cost and it may be one that your renter tries to avoid. It’s a good idea to discuss what you require for truck storage when it is not in use.

8. Lease Agreements

We always recommend you have any renter sign an agreement so that both parties can be protected and have a clear understanding of what is expected. If you’re serious about renting or leasing your food truck you can purchase a sample food truck lease and checklist for $99. This package is specific to the food truck industry and includes options for all the above categories.

If you’re looking for a place to list your truck for rent, check out foodtruckrental.com

For personal legal counsel and legal help relating to your food truck business, we recommend Hiller Counsel

Featured Food Truck Promotion: Shutterstock Premier #BrilliantBites Truck

Corporate Food Truck Promo Roadstoves Shutterstock  There were quite a few great corporate food truck promos in the summer of 2014 but there was one clear winner, in our humble opinion. Shutterstock Premier went all out with their #brilliantbites campaign, giving out tons of cool swag, including: notebooks, usbs, decals, magnets, and so much more, in addition to serving an array of authentic Los Angeles style street tacos.

Corporate Food Truck Promo Roadstoves ShutterstockThe two week campaign was a clear winner, with a well-planned route targeting production companies large and small to introduce their new high-end video library. The tacos were simple but delicious and guests regularly came back for seconds and thirds, allowing extra time for socializing with the dCorporate Food Truck Promo Roadstoves Shutterstockynamic brand ambassadors from Shutterstock.

The campaign was tied-in to social media with the #brilliantbites hashtag, allowing anyone who posted an opportunity to win a GoPro.

The truck was provided and run by industry leader, Roadstoves.

Well done to everyone involved.

Top 5 Dessert Trucks in LA

With summer coming to an end, we can finally let those beach bodies go and indulge our cravings for sweet treats once again!  While there are many dessert options to choose from in Los Angeles, few are mobile.  Here are our top five dessert trucks that you can find driving your way.

5. Sugar Babies Cupcakery

Sugar Babies CupcakeryIn the city where Sprinkles began, and many cupcake bakeries have followed in its footsteps, surprisingly, not too many bakers have taken their cupcakes on the road.  However, two health-conscious sisters dominate the streets of LA with their signature miniature cupcakes in Sugar Babies Cupcake Truck.  Kassandra Workman and Rachel Crystal began baking small cupcakes because they thought regular-sized cupcakes were too excessive.  With their mini cupcakes, their customers can enjoy more flavors without the extra calories!  The best part about Sugar Babies is that they don’t just sell cupcakes – you can also find mini cheesecakes, cake pops, and cookies at this LA dessert truck.

4. Beignet Truck

Beignet TruckIf you want a beignet, but don’t think you can make it to New Orleans anytime soon, then head over to the Beignet Truck! After years of crafting and perfecting an original recipe, the Beignet Truck is serving made to order beignets with dipping sauces and coffee. To keep the experience of these beignets authentic, the ingredients and coffee are imported directly from New Orleans.  This dessert truck isn’t just serving desserts – with its lively staff, the Beignet Truck is also dishing up a New Orleans ambiance to its customers!

3. B Sweet Mobile

B Sweet MobileB Sweet Mobile is the dessert truck that can do it all! Owner Barb Batiste serves everything from cookies and cupcakes to parfaits and pies in her two B Sweet trucks: Lil’ Angel and Lil’ Devil.  While this modern day Betty Crocker serves nearly every dessert desired, Barb Batiste specializes in making her famous bread pudding. With flavors like glazed donut, apple pie, cookies and cream, and fudge brownie, B Sweet’s bread pudding is so deliciously famed that they can now be purchased at select Target stores across the country!

2. Waffles de Liege

WWaffles de Liegehen you see “Belgian Waffle” on the menu of a dining establishment, you’re typically being served a Brussels waffle. At Waffles de Liege, however, you’ll be served the other Belgian waffle, that is, Liege waffles! Made with different ingredients, equipment, and preparation techniques, the Liege waffle is a richer, denser, sweeter waffle and is caramelized on the outside due to the pearl sugar it requires.  Patrons can order a traditional Liege waffle with powdered sugar, or add various toppings like spreads, syrups, nuts, fruit, and ice cream!

1. Coolhaus

If yCoolhausou’re looking to add some innovation to your dessert, be sure to seek out Coolhaus! Co-owners Natasha Case and Freya Estrella combined their passions for food and architecture by creating ice cream sandwiches and naming them after architects and architectural movements that inspire them.  Coolhaus pushes boundaries of traditional desserts by combining unique sweet and savory ingredients.  Unusual ice cream flavors to choose from include: fried chicken and waffles, gin and tonic, and Cuban cigar.  If you want to take your taste buds on a thrill ride of delicious confusion, Coolhaus is your destination!

Have a better idea for a dessert truck? Contact our partner, Roadstoves, for help getting started.

Our Top 6 Favorite Food Trucks/Trailers in TV and Movies

When gourmet food trucks first hit the road a few years ago, many skeptics were certain that they were “just a fad.”  However, in recent years we’ve increasingly seen food trucks portrayed in TV shows and movies, proving that they are a vital part of American culture and cuisine. The following are our five favorite representations of the gourmet food truck world in TV and movies.

6. Ride Along – lunchbox food trailer

ride along food truckIn 2014’s “Ride Along,” starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, this lunchbox food trailer is more than just a movie prop – it’s an actual taco truck that operates in Atlanta!  This iconic lunchbox, recently sold to new owners, is equipped with a flat screen TV and media player to entertain their hungry customers as they wait for their tacos.  A food trailer this special, it’s no wonder it was destined for the silver screen.

5. The Five Year Engagement – 9-1-YUM!

9-1-YUM2012’s “The Five Year Engagement” featured a taco truck that was so clever it had everyone wishing it were real! In the movie, Tom, played by Jason Segel, buys an ambulance and converts it into a paramedic-themed taco truck he called “9-1-YUM.” To the dismay of audiences and taco-connoisseurs alike, this ambulance food truck was only a prop and won’t be rushing Mexican food to anyone with a Taco-mergency any time soon.

4. Bob’s Burgers – Bob’s Burgers

Bob's Burgers Food Truckin'Fox’s animated show “Bob’s Burgers” comically shows the effect food trucks have on restaurants in season two’s episode “Food Truckin’.” In this episode, Bob reluctantly joins the food truck world to compete with those that are stealing business from his restaurant.  In an effort to be the best food truck, Bob and the family take their pun-ny burgers on the road to the food truck festival Lolla-Pa-Foods-La. His poor but equally hilarious attempt of having a successful food truck shows us how not to own a food truck.  The episode tastefully satirizes stereotypes of those who love food trucks and is of course equipped with pun-ny food truck names like “Total Eclipse of the Tart” and “Jeepers Crêp-ers.”

3. Happy Endings – Steak Me Home Tonight

steak me home tonightAlthough ABC’s “Happy Endings” lasted only 3 seasons, its fictional, cheesesteak-selling food truck “Steak Me Home Tonight” will last forever on the Internet.  The show’s premise centers on Zachary Knighton’s Dave coming to terms with being left at the altar.  An attempt to help his recovery, Dave starts this food truck and throughout the show works on increasing its success, from making commercials to launching a website, which still exists today.

2. The Great Food Truck Race

great food truck raceFood Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” is a fun reality show, hosted by Tyler Florence, on which food trucks compete each season for a grand prize.   Chefs aspiring to own a food truck and current food truck owners complete challenges in cities across America that they can win based on their sales.  In the end, the last food truck standing wins $50,000 and a brand new food truck of their own.  Season 5 begins Sunday, August 17, and you don’t want to miss it! Roadstoves helped by providing trucks and were consultants during production.

1. Chef – El Jefe

IMG_6890Coming in at number one, this summer’s food-truck-focused “Chef” depicts Carl, played by Jon Favreau, rediscovering his culinary passion by starting a food truck business of his own.  Restoring a broken down food truck and naming it El Jefe, Carl, his friend Martin, and his son Percy, drive the truck across the country from Miami to Los Angeles, while serving Cubanos along the way.  To keep the movie authentic, producers teamed up with Roy Choi, the famed co-owner of RoadstovesKogi, as the consultant on the film.  Still in theaters, “Chef” is an inspiring flick that we love and recommend everyone to go see.

Canvas Food Truck Inspired Salmon Burger

This summer, I’ve often found myself researching food trucks and food truck events for blog posts I write as an intern at RoadStoves, a comCanvaspany that helps kick start food truck businesses.  All of the research has led me to follow many food trucks with hopes of seeing that one will be in a location where I can “coincidently” run an errand in the area and “happen upon” a gourmet food truck.  That being said, I’ve tried quite a few trucks that circulate the LA area, which in turn inspired me to recreate a few of my favorites.  This week I recreated a salmon burger that I originally had at Canvas.

Canvas is a health and humane conscious food truck, where they work with local farmers to bring customer’s grass-fed beef and organic psalmon burger and garlic friesroduce, as well as freshly baked buns and rolls from LA’s own Homeboy Bakery.  What I love about Canvas is that with a diverse menu serving up everything, from mac ‘n’ cheese and Dr. Pepper BBQ to fresh veggie wraps, there is something for everyone! Canvas’s Salmon Burger is 6oz of Alaskan salmon, cooked to medium rare, on a Hawaiian bun with roasted pepper aioli, mixed greens, red onion, and tomato.  My salmon burger was an exact recreation and I even made a roasted red pepper aioli from scratch to maintain that farm-to-table characteristic that Canvas is known for.

Click Here To Read More

America’s Top 10 Most Interesting Food Trucks (and then some) of 2014

While we don’t know exactly which country invented the concept of a mobile food cart or truck, we can definitely agree that the modern gourmet food truck was an American invention!  America’s best food trucks are the unusual and crazy ones that make themselves a monument of the town they serve in. It’s Independence Day on Friday and what better time than the week of America’s birthday to celebrate the top 10 most interesting food trucks that makes the U.S. the leading nation of this culinary phenomenon.

10. Good Humor Ice Cream Truck

most interesting food trucks #10Established in 1920, the Good Humor Ice Cream Truck drove its way through suburban America and street food history.  Equipped with the world’s first ice cream bar on a stick and original all white uniforms, Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks are still ringing their signature bell that makes everyone scream for ice cream.

9. Nu Natural Beauty

nunaturalA food truck dressed as a quaint purple dream home, Nu Natural Beauty brings natural skincare, bath, and beauty products on the road in Orlando, Florida.  The first of its kind, the products this darling, dollhouse-looking mobile boutique sell are handmade, but not at the expense of the customers wallet.

 

 

8. Fashion Trucks

most interesting food trucks #08They may not serve food, but the innovation of the fashion truck landed them on our list! In particular, Blvd Love, one of Los Angeles’ earliest fashion trucks, converted an old short bus into a fully functioning mobile boutique.  While this fashion truck has since retired, others have followed in its footsteps, sparking America’s newest shopping trend.

 

7.  Company 77’s Pizzetta & Pizza Trolley

most interesting food trucks #07.1Tied for seventh place are two inimitable pizza serving food trucks. Pizzetta caters organic, vegan, and/or gluten free pizza to parties of 30-300 in an eco-friendly refurbished fire truck.  Outfitted with a photo booth, a sound system, a TV to watch the chef cook, water canons for a hot day, on-board beer taps, and much more, Pizzetta is the ultimate party food truck of Southern California.

most interesting food trucks #07.2While Pizzetta’s modern features are distinctly unique, the Pizza Trolley’s charming authenticity couldn’t be forgotten on this list.  Reminiscent of San Francisco’s old-world transportation, the Pizza Trolley in Florida dishes up a wide assortment of pizza, from the classic Margherita to the unusual Nutella and Mascarpone dessert pizza.

 

6.  Roving Mammoth

most interesting food trucks #06This food truck isn’t so much a truck as it is a snow mobile!  The one-of-a-kind Roving Mammoth is a snow cat that delivers hand warmers you can eat to the slopes of Mammoth Mountain in California.  Parked in a different location everyday, skiers can conveniently purchase burritos and calzones without having to go all the way to the lodge.

5.  Maximus Minimus

most interesting food trucks #05Maximus Minimus is an attention-grabbing pig-shaped food truck in Seattle, Washington.  With an assortment of sandwiches, two signature sauces (Maximus and Minimus), slaw, and Seattle’s famous Beecher’s mac ‘n’ cheese, this pig is serving up plenty of good eats for the rainy city. Some pig, indeed!

 

4.  Space Shuttle Café

most interesting food trucks #04A food truck that’s out of this world, the Space Shuttle Café of Santa Barbara, California is a novelty that holds a lot of history.  This food truck wasn’t originally a truck at all, but instead a 1944 Douglas DC-3 airliner that was used during WWII.   Equipped with a full-service kitchen, this spacecraft is ready to serve astronauts and space fans alike with their favorite meal.

3. Windy City Game Theater Truck

most interesting food trucks #03Another pioneering spin on the food truck that we love is the gaming truck.  A 28ft trailer renovated to be the supreme video game hauler with consoles hooked up to eight 47” TVs and all of the best games, Chicago’s Windy City Game Theater Truck is every gamer’s dream.

 

 

2. Angry Friar

most interesting food trucks #02Originally a 1961 London Transport Routemaster, The Angry Friar dishes up a little bit of London for all of Denton, Texas in this mobile restaurant food truck, where the kitchen is on the bottom and seating is on the top.  With images of the Beatles on Abbey Road and serving fish and chips, this double-decker bus brings British street food and culture to America.

1. Tractor Trailer Food Truck

most interesting food trucks #01Our number one choice for the most interesting food truck in America is this tractor-trailer-food truck hybrid that can eat other food trucks for breakfast, lunch, dinner … and also the occasional late night snack.  Within the walls of this Transformers-looking mobile kitchen contains a full-size professional refrigerator, oven, and space for storage and extra staff.  This Los Angeles food truck is truly a chef’s dream kitchen on wheels.

Have your own unique food truck concept that you want to make happen? Send us a note and we will try and help!

———

Update: Originally number nine was Lora’s Lasagna House, but we were informed that it had been transformed into Nu Natural Beauty.

LA Summer Food Truck Events You Shouldn’t Miss

firstfridaySummer in a city as vast as Los Angeles is a time for community building affairs and food-centered festivals.  While there are many events to choose from this summer, here are a few diverse options, where you can find some of LA’s best food trucks stationed at.

Saturday Night Movies

This summer, there are two movie hosts offering a large selection of movies to see every Saturday night.  The first, Street Food Cinema, will be having events in Glendale, Pasadena, and Downtown LA.  Occasionally, Street Food Cinema will show movies at two locations offering an option between two different genres. The second host screening movies this summer is Eat See Hear, which will primarily occur in Santa Monica, Brentwood, and Griffith Park.  At these separately hosted events, in addition to seeing a cult classic film, you can listen to live music and nosh on delicious grub from a gourmet food truck!

Featured food trucks at these movie events include Roadstoves very own Baby’s Badass Burgers, Canvas Truck, Currywurst, The Greasy Wiener, The Schmuck Truck, Roll ‘N Lobster, The Grilled Cheese Truck, The Lobos Truck, Steel City Night Market: ChinatownSandwich, Joe’s Pizza, and The Melt.

LA Rib Fest

LA’s first ever Rib Festival will be occurring on July 13th in Chinatown.  Showcasing ribs and sides from local chefs, the LA Rib Fest is a must for foodies and barbeque connoisseurs.  David Danhi of The Grilled Cheese Truck and Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage are amongst the twelve LA chefs participating.  In addition to the abundance of chef barbeque specialties, there will be desserts from local bakeries, two mixologists, and craft beer and soda. With so much variety of delicious summertime barbeque to indulge in, you won’t want to miss LA Rib Fest.

Abbot Kinney First Fridays

Every first Friday of the month, Venice celebrates their local businesses, restaurants, musicians, and artists during this street fair on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  During this event, in addition to enjoying local entertainment, you can eat at any of the gourmet food trucks that will be lined up amongst the crowds in the street.  It’s important to note that First Friday will not be occurring in July, for it falls on July 4th.  However, on kogifirstfridayAugust 1st food trucks like Kogi BBQ, Baby’s Badass Burgers, Roll ‘N Lobster, Coolhaus, and The Greasy Weiner will be waiting to serve you up some good eats!

Chinatown Summer Nights

On July 12th and August 9th, take the family to Chinatown for a summer block party!  From 5pm – midnight, you can watch live culinary demonstrations, participate in Chinese cultural workshops, dance to and listen to local bands and DJs, shop at an artist and flea market, and indulge in gourmet food trucks!  With a plethora of activities to participate in, Chinatown Summer Nights is great for a family-friendly evening or a fun date night!  While there, be sure to look out for these Roadstoves’ food trucks: Kogi BBQ, The Lobos Truck, and The Greasy Wiener!

Jon Favreau’s Chef Movie May Be Coming To Your City This Weekend!

#ChefMovie rolls into ADDITIONAL CITIES THIS WEEKEND!

Find your theater here: http://openroadfil.ms/seechef

Buy tickets NOW: http://www.buycheftickets.com/

chef movie

U.S. Gov’t Supports Food Trucks

Milan-Expo-Food-Truck-300x178President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have announced their support for the U.S. Food Truck Industry at Expo Milan 2015, an international food exposition. 98 Countries so far are participating, and the U.S. has committed to creating a “Food Truck Nation” expo showcasing this new wave of homegrown creativity.

“Our program will showcase the uniquely American food truck experience taking hold across the United States as a representation of American diversity, innovation and entrepreneurship,” say the Friends of the U.S. Pavilion Milano 2015 (the Non-Profit charged with funding the project).

“Food truck experiences in the U.S. will lead up to Expo Milano, where ‘trucks’ will operate at the USA Pavilion and in the streets of Milan.”

The food trucks will be on equal footing with the U.S. pavilion’s other dining facility, the James Beard American Restaurant. This operation will be a “100-seat restaurant that will showcase top American culinary talent, beverages and other products, as well as a burger bar and beverage program to give Expo Milano visitor and VIPs a true taste of American Food 2.0.”

Read the complete Press Release here