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Doughnut Food Truck???

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I am ready to move on to a new adventure and am contemplating a doughnut food truck.  We do not have any doughnut shops in the area I live in (medium sized town in the mountains) other than the doughnuts made in the supermarkets.  I have experience working at a doughnut shop and am contemplating opening up a mobile doughnut truck or a food truck.  Anyone have any ideas on the realistic capability of this?  I would like to be able to do make the doughnuts from start to finish in the truck, not just use the truck to sell them.  I want to mix, raise, cut or drop, fry, glaze/frost, decorate and sell the doughnuts all out of the truck itself.  I am currently looking up equipment to be put into a truck and am just needing a little input overall.  Proofing box in the truck?  Full deep fryers vs table top fryers in the truck?  Homemade glaze/icings vs pre-made?

 

Any thoughts on the whole thing?

 

Thanks.

 

Tubs

post #2 of 26

Here in Seattle there's a truck called Street Donuts that's doing it: http://www.streetdonuts.com/

 

Not sure if they have the entire process contained in the truck, though I suspect they aren't doing yeasted donuts. You might try contacting them.

 

I could be wrong, but I have a hard time imagining a truck with enough space to do yeasted donuts in large enough quantity to be profitable, since at a minimum you'd have to have a big mixer, a proofer, space to roll out and cut dough, a fryer (with adequate hood and ventilation), refrigeration, and rack space to store product, not to mention some kind of window with a counter to sell out of. Then you get into what it would take to do different flavors, fillings and toppings.

 

Just wondering why you want to do a truck vs. brick and mortar? Is it the high cost of rent, food truck trend, or lifestyle choice? Around here there seems to be a trend of brick and mortar shops starting trucks that just sell product (Top Pot Donuts is doing this) and businesses that started as trucks opening shops and restaurants.

post #3 of 26

Check with your health department first. In Phoenix, you are not allowed to prep food in the truck. That has to be done at the commissary. I'm also in agreement that you might not have the space to do what you want. Think of how many donuts you need to sell to make a profit and then visualize how much room they're going to need. And if you're going to proof donuts in the truck (I would be surprised that you could by HD standards), you might get into trouble if the proofing times aren't coordinated and you get a big hit.

 

One idea a friend of mine and I came up with (he's a culinary instructor) is to sell the excess pastries made at the school instead of tossing them in the trash every day like they do. We abandoned the idea because we didn't want to get involved with the school's politics. I bring this up because you might be able to do other items as well as donuts to compliment the menu. Good luck!

post #4 of 26

I envision sloshing vats of hot oil...

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 26

I think it can be done, no problem proofing, frying and making the toppings. The only thing I would worry about is showing and displaying your product properly. The whole thing about your homemade donuts is to show them off, so people can pick and choose. There is a Hot Molasada Truck in Hawaii that sells hot out of the fryer Portuguese donuts, they have been doing it for years, so it can be done..........Chefbillyb

post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great feed back everyone, I really appreciate it!  I am doing all my research for this now and there is a lot to sort through!  The health department rules and regs are definitely a lot to go through, but I am doing so slowly as to not be caught off guard later!

 

@nightscotsman - I am going food truck vs brick and mortar more due to to the high cost of rent for a storefront.  I do appreciate the new found fame of food trucks, but where I live the idea of a food truck is unique and not really done yet.  There are a few food "trailers" that do crepes and ice cream and sno-cones out here, but not much else.  Certainly not any actual food production.  As for the space needed to do yeast raised doughnuts vs cake doughnuts, besides the proofer, there is not too much else that differs equipment wise - at least not at the donut shop I worked in previously.  We use the same table to roll out the doughnuts that we did to glaze, frost, and decorate them.  We use the same mixer to mix up the yeast raised dough as we did to mix the cake batter.  The proofer is my main concern in finding one that fits in a truck and meets health codes really.

 

Well, there is still a ton to be decided on if this idea will come to work out or not, but if you guys have any other thoughts or ideas, I would love to hear them.

 

Thanks!

 

Tubs

post #7 of 26

you can have an electric proofer cabinet built into a mobile kitchen. 

 

There are many routes to go in mobile kitchens from having them professionally kitted to creating your own out of a box truck and \equipment.  Of course you really do need to work with your dept of health on this one otherwise you could be in for some nasty and costly surprises  and redoes once they do step in .

Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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post #8 of 26

I have been using one like this for years..............

 

 

Used Metro C175-CM2000 Commercial View Door Mobile Heater Proofer Cabinet

 

post #9 of 26
You can use donut robots that take batter so no proofing or pans to take up space. You can get the robots that make full size and mini donuts too. The it's all about toppings
post #10 of 26

I agree, Not that anyone needs my agreement, LOL.  Non-Yeast Donuts are made in any donut shop with a variety of flavors and toppings.  Yeast donuts need be proofed, Fried, and Glazed/iced at a donut temperature that will ensure the bubbles in the dough after frying and cooling for 30 seconds or so will adhere to the donut as Not to flake or fall off when the donut is cooled off.  Enter 

Belshaw Bakery Donut ThermoGlaze TG-50 with TZ-6 Proofer cabinet.  Purchase all your Donuts Frozen, Pre-made, Pre-fried, and set up your Booth on location serving Hot Donuts and Ready iced Donuts as the Customers Watch & Drool!  My Thought but This is what I have been trying to put together in my mind.

 

Imer B. Whitten, Husband and Partner of the Previous Owner of:

 

The Jelly Donut, 

Grants Pass Oregon

post #11 of 26

jayman,,

 

ImerB here.  No I have not gone for the "dream truck" as of Yet, LOL.  Thank you tho for your curiosity. Three Reasons to be precise.  Capital, Capital, Capital.  I have seen links tho for Bakery type trucks that bake Breads, Cinnamon Rolls Etc from an oven in their truck.  I do not know if this is ok to add this link but one example was: http://redding.craigslist.org/bfs/3332122781.html  

 

ImerB

post #12 of 26

I thought I'd give my 2 cents worth. I am in the San Diego area and have been working on the doing Baked Cake type Doughnuts for the casino I work at. It would reduce the cost of a proofer and a space saver. You would be able to work flavors to your artistic side with low waste. It takes only 10 minutes to bake saving time in service.It reduces the fat content in half as it is not fried. And as one Chef cautioned....splashing oil. Good Luck on your venture as I know how hard it is to get your dream off the ground..... but it was worth it for my soul.

post #13 of 26

Hi all.  My husband and I own a mobile mini donut concession business. Thought I would share some info. Our initial investment was $10,000 in June of 2012.

 

We do not have a truck or a trailer, only a 10 x 10 foot portable kiosk that we haul with our Suburban and a trailer. With the kiosk, the weather plays a huge role in our business, however, we like the fact that our customers can walk up and watch the donut making process. Set up and tear down times are about an hour each. That is with 2 of us working. 

 

We have a Lil Orbits 1200 series model automated machine. We bought new for the warranty (which is lifetime) but you should know that using any mix other than what you buy directly from Lil Orbits will void that warranty. Do your homework on this. The cost of the mix itself is not high and we love the quality. The problem is that the shipping cost is a huge factor. We never dreamed this would cut into our profitability as much as it has. 

 

The machine is easy to use, clean and assemble. People really love to watch the process. They will stand forever and just watch. Once you offer them a sample donut, they are hooked. 

 

All cities are not food truck friendly. We were "uninvited" to an event this past year b/c the powers that be did not want "that type of feel" for the downtown area. (it was a group of vendors that were uninvited, not just us). Just something to think about if there are not alot of food trucks in your area. 

 

We love attending festivals and events, meeting people and spending time together as a family. We are not getting rich! We rely on 2 full-time jobs and do this on the weekends. I can't imagine that either of us could quit our jobs at this point and do this full-time. It is more of a "hobby" income so far :) 

 

I hope this is helpful. Please ask questions if you have them. I will do my best to help. Good luck in all your ventures!

post #14 of 26

Hello ZBLT,

 

Are you required to use a commissary kitchen for your food prep where you're located? Where I'm located, we have to be associated with a commissary kitchen, and any mobile unit has to remain parked there when not in use. For me, following these rules and maintaining profitability looks impossible.   

post #15 of 26

We were in Michigan couple of weeks ago and there was one at Cabelas and he was doing a brisk business just by the smell alone.

post #16 of 26

Hi! I hope you get this message.

 

I am thinking about purchasing a mini-donut trailer and I am wondering about the profit margin?

 

In addition to shipping donut supplies (from Orbitz)...what are the biggest challenges and expenses?

 

Do you have to get a food license/permit for each city? or State?

 

What if you are traveling doing county fairs? (those could be in different states)

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH! :)

 

Jennifer

post #17 of 26

@jenrada5:  I can only partially answer the question about food licensing/permits.;  Each city will vary in its requirements for mobile food operations and most towns/cities will have online information that you can access.  You'll need a day-of operating permit (or multi-day permit) to do specific events.  If you are associated with a larger traveling event like a county fair (ours has a "Clown Town" every year and the group has multiple rides and food vendors), the group applies to the town for the permit to operate the rides, and the food vendors apply for the day-of operations permits and the health dept inspects them before they're allowed to sell food from whatever vehicle they're operating out of.  See what the local cities and towns in your area have for mobile food units to get you started on what requirements you'll need to meet.

post #18 of 26
Hi - I was in your position 2 years ago - thought donuts would work - and overall it has been a lot of fun - and a lot of hard work. Not too many donut trucks or donut guys out there to help you. The people at Lil Orbits are really helpful.

To answer your questions:

Profit margin - sell 12 mini donuts for $4
- cost to make 12 donuts $0.24
- profit $3.76 which is 94%

Biggest challenges:
1. No instruction guide how to get started
2..learning how to manage your county's environmental health department for info and advice
3. Figuring out that I needed a class 3 mobile cart license - the license is good for an entire year in your county versus a temporary restaurant permit at each location good for only 90 days
4. Getting down a system
5. Making your cart a class 3 - usually means hot running water on board to wash your hands

Costs in my county in Oregon -
Class 3 mobile License - 271 per year
Class 3 mobile license plan review - 275 one time charge
Liability insurance needed for most markets and events 1million liability 300 per year
Booth fees at each venue vary - usually 30-35 each day


Traveling to different states?

Call ahead of time to the environmental health dept of the county you want to make donuts and follow their guidelines for either a temp permit or if you will be doing a lot of repeated business a mobile food cart might consider a mobile food cart license in that county/state. you WILL be visited by a health inspector - and venues require that you are responsible for proper licensure - an a food handler card (takes 10 min on line)

Hope that helps - btw we have made over 300000 mini donuts since 2014

Richard
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by four2boyz View Post

Hi - I was in your position 2 years ago - thought donuts would work - and overall it has been a lot of fun - and a lot of hard work. Not too many donut trucks or donut guys out there to help you. The people at Lil Orbits are really helpful.

To answer your questions:

Profit margin - sell 12 mini donuts for $4
- cost to make 12 donuts $0.24
- profit $3.76 which is 94%

Biggest challenges:
1. No instruction guide how to get started
2..learning how to manage your county's environmental health department for info and advice
3. Figuring out that I needed a class 3 mobile cart license - the license is good for an entire year in your county versus a temporary restaurant permit at each location good for only 90 days
4. Getting down a system
5. Making your cart a class 3 - usually means hot running water on board to wash your hands

Costs in my county in Oregon -
Class 3 mobile License - 271 per year
Class 3 mobile license plan review - 275 one time charge
Liability insurance needed for most markets and events 1million liability 300 per year
Booth fees at each venue vary - usually 30-35 each day


Traveling to different states?

Call ahead of time to the environmental health dept of the county you want to make donuts and follow their guidelines for either a temp permit or if you will be doing a lot of repeated business a mobile food cart might consider a mobile food cart license in that county/state. you WILL be visited by a health inspector - and venues require that you are responsible for proper licensure - an a food handler card (takes 10 min on line)

Hope that helps - btw we have made over 300000 mini donuts since 2014

Richard


Richard, could you also do a churro out of the same machine out a side mount. When I go to Mexico there is a street vendor that has a had crank and cuts the batter as it falls from the machine. All they need is some Cinn & Sugar and it's a done deal.

post #20 of 26
Hi Chef

Sorry no - can't do the churros from the same machine. I think there is a churro machine out there. I guess it depends on your target audience and what you want to make.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by four2boyz View Post

Hi Chef

Sorry no - can't do the churros from the same machine. I think there is a churro machine out there. I guess it depends on your target audience and what you want to make.


Richard, This is the one that the guy has in Mexico. It doesn't get my more basic than this. I was just wondering if the fryer well could be used off to the side to offer a different product if a person want too..........

post #22 of 26
Hi Chef - thanks for the interesting pic - not sure what the inspector would say - but he is definitely an entrepreneur - I have the Lil Orbits ss1200 - a workhorse to make mini donuts. Easy to use and reliable. I have been in situations I could not keep up with the demand and other times I could not give it away. Donuts are a funny business. Do you think there might be a market for a mini donut consultant? I have heard stories of people saying they lost a ton of money and others the exact opposite?
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by four2boyz View Post

Hi Chef - thanks for the interesting pic - not sure what the inspector would say - but he is definitely an entrepreneur - I have the Lil Orbits ss1200 - a workhorse to make mini donuts. Easy to use and reliable. I have been in situations I could not keep up with the demand and other times I could not give it away. Donuts are a funny business. Do you think there might be a market for a mini donut consultant? I have heard stories of people saying they lost a ton of money and others the exact opposite?


Hi Richard, I think you have some people that don't know very much about putting the right product in the right place. Some people will buy the Orbits Mini donut maker and think they could sell 1000"s  anyplace they set up. Like you said, sometime you can't make them fast enough somedays you can't sell one. I'm not to sure about the mini donut consultant because it's such a limited single serve item. 

   Are you able to offer different toppings ? or are you limited to powered sugar and cimm sugar. I always though a display case with different topping would boost the each cost. Look at the donut shops that do real well, it's all about the toppings. Or, is it possible to have dipping sauces like maple or glaze ?....I'm not trying to tell you how to run your business. I know where I see the orbits set up they offer a pretty basic setup in a area that offers a lot of different creative food items. 

post #24 of 26

Today's consumers are a fickle bunch.

When you can have virtually any product in the world available at your fingertips why settle (lol has anyone seen the new Direct TV campaign.... ROTFLMAO) for one product?

Different flavors...toppings...colorful sprinkles....dipping sauces...

 

Did a short google search and there were dozens of negative threads re Lil Orbits.

Quite a few machines for sale on the big sites like Craigs List and Ebay (plus a warning on lilorbits.com about the expense of repairing a broken machine bought second hand...mainly about the lack of guaranteed parts at a reduced price if you are still under warranty).

 

Not much of a feel for continued franchise support from the manufacturer.... why not toss a few other things in the oil while it is hot ?

Pretzels, funnel cakes, churros are all high profit margin items found at any street/county/state fair and other festivals.

The main problem is that unless you can secure a spot from a retiring vendor it can be ridiculously tough to get any booth space.

 

Just a few IMO's...

 

mimi

post #25 of 26
With all du respect chefs, I realize the hurdles in today's economy to start a business and work for yourself. Trucks, trailers pop up tents, are much less than brick and mortar....in addition you can go to the customers. Yes, if there is already a donut guy at a farmers market they will probably not allow a second. So I agree, do your due diligence prior to embarking on the mini donut path. Unless you are doing it as a hobby and if is just for fun, do not spend money unless you are sure. I met a lot of nce people And bought the machine second hand and made a lot of donuts. Maybe it is the area, maybe it's the luck I guess I'll never know.

It is a lot of work to just keep the donuts flowing - I had people ask me if I could do malasasas, big donuts, fried fish, etc,I just say "sorry" only do donuts w cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or plain. They smile, take a sample, then buy a bag.

Good luck with your donut truck endeavor and it's good to help someone else with knowledge if you can share experiences -
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by four2boyz View Post

With all du respect chefs, I realize the hurdles in today's economy to start a business and work for yourself. Trucks, trailers pop up tents, are much less than brick and mortar....in addition you can go to the customers. Yes, if there is already a donut guy at a farmers market they will probably not allow a second. So I agree, do your due diligence prior to embarking on the mini donut path. Unless you are doing it as a hobby and if is just for fun, do not spend money unless you are sure. I met a lot of nce people And bought the machine second hand and made a lot of donuts. Maybe it is the area, maybe it's the luck I guess I'll never know.

It is a lot of work to just keep the donuts flowing - I had people ask me if I could do malasasas, big donuts, fried fish, etc,I just say "sorry" only do donuts w cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or plain. They smile, take a sample, then buy a bag.

Good luck with your donut truck endeavor and it's good to help someone else with knowledge if you can share experiences -


Great advice f2b! Your right, in todays world everything doesn't work in everyplace. I'm in another forum that talks about Hot Dog carts. A few vendors do really well in some parts of the country and others can't sell but a few dogs a day in other states. Your also very right to mention " Know your market" I started my career in Hawaii and I think you could have had a Hot Molasads cart do well any place you put one. It maybe a different story in places on the main land that don't even know what they are. In todays world people are looking for something different, what used to be may not be popular anymore. I see a lot of people think all you have to do is buy a food truck and you have a instant successful business. Like I said great advice.

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