Food trucks have taken the culinary world by storm in the last decade. Hungry foodies following them on Twitter, office workers are grateful for an alternative to the cafeteria, and they seem to provide every craft beer brewery in California with vittles to help the beer go down.
The advantages of the format are many. You serve great food at a reasonable price. It is cheaper than opening a brick and mortar restaurant. It is also a great way to get one’s name out there when starting out. The overhead stays low because of the limitations of the space. Of course, there is also the freedom of changing your location on a whim.
Some may like the culture that owning a truck affords, but there are some important issues that need addressing if they do not want to be shut down:
- Licenses and permits: While some owners take their chances, food trucks require licenses and permits. It is also worth noting that this process can take time.
- Safety and health issues: Despite having wheels, these trucks must adhere to the same health and safety rules that apply to regular kitchens. Tight spaces with hot equipment can also be dangerous.
- It is still not cheap: Trucks cost up to $80,000. There is maintenance of the vehicle and equipment as well as cost of permits, supplies, insurance and employees salaries. It adds up.
- Stiff competition: A food truck was novel 10 years ago, but not anymore. Prime spots can be extremely difficult to claim, and local brick-and-mortar restaurants may not like the competition either, which can lead to regulations to prevent unfair competition.
- Municipal laws vary: Huntington Beach’s rules likely are not the same as Fountain Valley, Sunset Beach, Long Beach or Costa Mesa. If they cite you, sometimes you will get a ticket and sometimes you will be towed.
An attorney with experience working with businesses and municipalities can be a tremendous asset to food trucks and other street venders. They can help ensure that your right to conduct business is protected and they also help resolve other unique issues as well.