Learn to Start a Food Truck

Frysmith's Eric & Brooke
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Written by Brook Howell

Before starting our truck, my husband and I were passionate foodies who wanted to bring French fries with savory toppings to the public. We now run Frysmith (eatfrysmith.com), one of the most popular food trucks in Los Angeles. Interested? Here’s how to take your cooking to the streets. —Brook Howell

1. Choose Your Grub Wisely

Even if you make the greatest such-and-such in town, what’s the point if no one wants it? We did many taste tests and surveys to make sure there was a market for our food. Investigate whether there are other restaurants or trucks serving similar food, and consider your menu accordingly.

2. Locate Parking

Regulations may limit where you can park your truck (and also what licenses you may need). You’ll need to find a neighborhood with high concentrations of your target market—and not too much competition from other trucks. We determined that our best customers would be beer-drinking young men, so we found spots near specific bars.

3. Find a Truck

For Frysmith, we built a custom rig loaded with the equipment necessary to produce our unique menu. If you want to hit the road more quickly than we did, rent an existing truck and adjust your menu. And remember: The cheaper the truck, the more likely it will break down.

4. Consider All Costs

The cost of your truck is just the start. Add in rent at the lot where you may be required to store it, permits, insurance, and taxes, as well as traveling costs—not only will you be paying employees when they are stuck in traffic, but also you can’t be open for business during that time.

5. Work Your Butt Off

We each spend an average of 70 hours per week cooking, driving, serving, deciding where to park, keeping the books, managing employees, and buying supplies. If you’ve never worked in a kitchen before, get a job in a restaurant or, better yet, another truck. If you find all of that appealing, starting a food truck may be for you!