Starting a Food Truck Business in the USA – Complete Guide


A food truck is a mobile food store or mini restaurant offering mostly snacks and starters at a relatively cheaper price with tasty cuisines. As the name suggests, a food truck is basically based on a renovated and customized mini truck on which the various cuisines are cooked and served to the customers.

This mobile food store has an added advantage of moving from place to place whenever necessary. In the recent while, the concept of food truck has taken a big jump and many of the businesses are entering into this concept of serving delicious and much demanded cuisines. The traditional concept was to set a stall or a restaurant at a specified place and then serve food.

This method had its advantages but with time it also has seen several disadvantages. For example, crowded streets and markets that are expensive take a toll on such stall owners and restaurants as they have to pay huge prices as rent to establish and run their shops. Similarly, the crowded places also don’t have any place left to establish new market. Also, if a particular restaurant isn’t finding customer attraction it cannot change its location at ease.

To overcome these raised concerns, new methods were invented and as a result we are seeing a booming mobile food truck industry that has become very popular and attractive. People have a general perception that these food trucks will not only offer delicious eatables but are also quite cheap and affordable by general people especially the younger generation that has a humble pocket.

If you are interested in the concept of food truck business and if you are thinking to invest in it then this article will guide you in the procedure to start a food truck business in the USA.

Food Truck

Research about the Market:

The first and most important step is researching about the topic you tend to invest in. Research requires you to read about the market of food truck business deeply to ensure that you don’t miss any aspect of food truck business that you should know. Research makes you understand about the various aspects of a business and all its sides which you may generally not see.

Do an online research or take out various articles from the food industry on this topic to know what exactly a food truck is. Another best way to know about the food truck business is to connect with people who are already into this business. These people are your mentors who will guide you at various steps when you are starting your business. The best way or the professional way is to hire a professional expert to carry out a feasibility analysis test that will give a very detailed and comprehensive report on the food truck business that will have all the answers for all your queries.

Feasibility Analysis report and your Business Plan:

A feasibility analysis report will carry various aspects of information related to the food truck business which will also have specific answers for your business. There are various questions that require a concise and precise answers. Some are:

  • Investment required in a food truck business
  • Procedure to start the business
  • How to collect and manage resources
  • What type of cuisines will be there on the menu
  • Where will be the location of your food truck or the route of your food truck
  • What will be the general price of the items you are offering and how much profit they will give in return
  • Other business related topics like permissions, licenses, employees, experts, etc. 

Your feasibility analysis report will have answers to all the relevant questions regarding your business and based on it you will be writing your comprehensive business plan that will guide you way forwards towards starting your food truck business. Your business plan will not only serve as a guide to you but it will also help you in securing bank loans, attracting business partners and investors to invest in your business.

Location of your Business:

It is quite important to choose a location for your business or a planned route through which your food truck will go. You can also make several stops for your food truck at key places which are crowded and can attract potential customers. Choosing location is key to the success of your business. It also necessary because certain areas in United States have restriction on number of food truck entries and their parking at a particular times especially the areas that have busy routes.

Places in New York and Los Angeles remain busy throughout the day and are crowded therefore the traffic is regulated. Based on your feasibility analysis report you can select some key places where you will park your food truck. It can be an educational institution targeting students, a park targeting tourists or passerby or any other crowded market that can entertain your eatable items. 

Starting with the Business:

Food License, Registration, etc.

You will required to get the required permission and licensing to start your business. The category generally remains restaurant business permission obtained by local authority. Registering your business and have proper bank account, tax registration, vehicle registration certificate, etc. is also necessary. Your business plan will have all the documentation details which will make it easy for you to proceed.

Planning your Menu:

This is the most important part of your business as your cuisines will decide how much customers you will attract. The general choice for a food truck is snacks, starters and mixed items that are generally preferred by the passing by consumers. Italian, continental, Mexican, Indian food are common choice along with Chinese food that is heavily preferred generally by all. Remember, whatever you offer should not be just a replica of what is promised but should also have the quality and taste and that is what will work as a PR for your business.

You can have sets of food items which you will offer at different time periods. For example, in the morning you can focus on foods that one generally prefers in the morning in his breakfast like sandwich. In the noon you can have different food items and for the evening you can have different. Not only it brings variety but it will also ease you out as you will not have to be ready with all the items at a given time. For each time period you can set different places but it all depends on you how you want to go ahead.

The Truck in Food Truck:

You need a decent sized truck that can accommodate you along with at least two other helper of chefs along with all the food items and other resources and equipment. Thus you need a mid-sized truck. A midsized truck will not be that cheap and it is advised that you go for a second hand and get it renovated since the performance of your truck will be immaterial as it will remain at one place most of the time. Hire a professional designer and constructor who will renovate and design your truck that not only is feasible for your use but also looks attractive. Get a name for your business along with a logo that would be in bold letters on your food truck. 

The interiors of your truck should be as per need. Consult well with experts before going for design. It should also be in sync with the type of food you will be serving. For example, you will require a refrigerator, microwave, fryolator, and other modern machines required to prepare food items, bake it and process it. 

You will have also have to accommodate all your food items, utensils and resources at one place therefore it should not only be spacious but should be easy to work in. Comfort is also necessary aspect as you cannot cook food in a hot, steamy, humid and stinky place therefore ensure you have comfortable stay inside.

Food Items and Resources:

Based on the menu you will be serving get all the stocks ready to start your business. Make a list of all the items require to prepare the required food items and store a part of it in your food truck. The rest can remain in your store room or a mobile reservoir in your food truck. It is obvious that you will have to get these food items in advance which is also of quality. You will also require various utensils, equipment, tools and machines to prepare the food.

Gas stove, gas cylinder, oven, microwave, boiler, fryolater, refrigerator, etc. are some common items along with the basic cooking utensils. It would be advisable to get a new set of all of them as they will not cost much and will be of use for the rest of the time you are into this business. Some items may be expensive which you can lease or rent out whichever is better for you and available. 

Hiring Employees and Chefs:

This is another important aspect which will define how much impact you are going to make in the market. Hire at least two chefs or if you are one of those you can substitute one of them but it is advisable to have at least two or one in the initial time and you can hire another as your business picks up. To reduce the cost of expenditure on your employees you can get trained and take up the role of the chef or manager whatever you find best. Along with the chefs you will also need a manager who will take orders, collect money and forward the order to the chefs.

At least one helping staff to help the chefs with the work. You can also have additional helper to serve food to the customers or clean the table or clean the used utensils. Try out methods that reduces the work of employees as they will charge money that can impact your profit margin. Hire cooks who are multi-talented and can cook various cuisines at a time that have taste and quality. Here expert advice and your network within the food truck market will work.

Other Necessary things:

Whatever food item you would be offering will have two aspects. The immediate serving at spot and the parcel option. For parceling you will have all the utilities to pack the food properly while for immediate serve you can have a slab connect with one side of your truck on which people will keep the plate or utensil and consume the food. You can also put chairs and tables but for that you need one staff to clean them. Utensils can be disposable or of plastic whichever you feel makes both standard and ease. Along with it you will also have to offer water at least for cleaning hands. 

Planning the rate of your food items:

Fixing the rate of the food items you would be offering to your customers has importance in the sale of your products. Food truck items generally have decent prices that is not too cheap nor too costly. People generally view a food truck with a perception that it will offer tasty food at decent price. Fix the price that is not only good for your customer but also for you so that you can make good profit. Fixing rate also depends on your target customers. The rates will vary between a student, a middleclass and a poor. Fix wisely!

Financing your Business:

The whole business will at least require $40, 000 and more to start and will consumer another few thousand dollars to keep it going until you start making decent profits which will take at least 3-6 months. Until then you have to be equipped with sufficient money which you can take loan, get invested from friends or investor or use from your earned money. For every money you spend be sure how can you get it back. Your business plan should be such that it makes efficient use of money. 

As you Start your Business:

Starting is always the hardest which will require extreme patience and hard work. Put all your efforts in the business and be smart while running your business. Hospitality is an important word necessary to run any business where treating your customer well irrespective of the money you earn. In the initial period don’t run for money but to gain the love of your customers. Once they start to like your food then rest will become a matter of history for the food truck industry. Always keep quality above money.


1. What is a food truck?

A food truck is a mobile food-service business that serves hot food, beverages, and snacks to customers from a traveling vehicle.

2. What types of food do food trucks offer?

Food trucks offer a variety of food, including ethnic, specialty, and fast food. Common types of food offered are tacos, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, and desserts.

3. Do food trucks have to comply with local or regional laws?

Yes. Food truck businesses must comply with local, state, and federal laws regarding preparation and distribution of food, food safety, and any permit and licensing requirements.

4. What permits do food truck operators need to operate in the US?

Food truck operators need to obtain operating permits and any other license or certification that may required in the state or local jurisdiction in which food trucks will operate.

5. Are food truck operators required to comply with food safety standards?

Yes. Food truck operators are required to comply with food safety standards and regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

6. What types of food-handling equipment do food trucks need?

Food trucks need food-handling equipment such as ventilation units, sinks, heaters, coolers, thermometers, foodwrapping supplies, and utensils.

7. What are the differences between a mobile food truck and a food trailer?

A mobile food truck is typically a van, truck, or a cart that has been equipped to sell food and refreshments. A food trailer is a trailer that is pulled behind a vehicle and outfitted for food sales.

8. Do I need to register my food truck business with the state?

Yes. All food businesses, including food trucks, are required to register with the state.

9. What tax requirements apply to food truck businesses in the US?

Depending on the state, businesses may have to obtain a sales tax permit and/or an employer identification number. Business owners will also need to pay taxes such as income tax, sales tax, and payroll tax.

10. Are there any special insurance considerations for food truck businesses in the US?

Yes. Businesses should obtain insurance coverage such as general liability, vehicle insurance, product liability, and worker’s compensation.

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