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Long Island Food Trucking

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

To any and all out there,

 

My name is Dan and I am VERY interested in opening a mobile food truck biz on Long Island (NY).  I just registered on the Cheftalk site due to my strong desire to work in the culinary field, specifically within my own construct.   I am, what is widely known today, as a foodie.  I have much experience cooking at home and I have a great desire to bring my skills to the public at this time.  While I do not have a degree in the culinary arts, I am looking into getting certification from a local school.

 

I have, what I feel, are good ideas as to the fare I wish to offer and am looking to expand my career options.  I am looking for two things, at this point in time:

 

1)  A partner or partners in my neck of the woods to begin such a venture with me

         if there is anyone in this region with such a desire please feel free to email me at li_boy1965@yahoo.com

 

2)  Any advice/strategies anyone can offer to one such as myself.  I know about the licensing and permits, etc. issues.  I realize that there are many hoops one must jump through in order to get such an enterprise off the ground.  Just wondering if anyone has anything more concrete about my locality.

 

I appreciate and welcome any input and look forward to conversing with anyone who wishes to offer such.

 

Thanks, in advance.

post #2 of 13
Tested Signature items are critical to your success. Who is your target market? Are you looking for a partner because of financing issues or a particular skill set? I recommend you go at it alone if at all possible.
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by theelectricchef View Post

I recommend you go at it alone if at all possible.

Agreed.  Also, food trucks are a pain in the a55, you are combining all the bs from a kitchen with all the bs of a vehicle, its like a whirlwind of bs

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am looking to enter this with a partner because I know that such an enterprise is not a go-it-alone prospect.  To enter such an endeavor with one who is as passionate about doing this as I am would make the required tasks easier to accomplish and, it would also be advantageous to have someone share in the financial investment as well.

 

Believe me, I am not looking into this possibility lightly.  If I were to seriously make moves towards this end, (if a more standard type of job does not come my way soon) I will, most assuredly, do my due diligence in completely researching all that will be required of me and any possible partner.

 

Again, thanks for all your wonderful input.  I consider it an honor to be amongst you and look forward to further conversations.

 

Best always,

Dan

post #5 of 13

Food trucks are far more difficult than stand alone brick and morters by the sheer nature of them. You'll be very hard pressed to do enough revenue to support two owners.. I would seriously consider going it alone. Your potential locale here in the northeast makes it doubly difficult due to the weather. Winter weather is not kind to food truck operators to begin with. Also customers aren't happy about queuing up in inclement weather, be it summer or winter.

 

Each town has it's own rules, regulations and licensing requirements for food trucks, in addition to possible state and/or county regs. Be sure to do TONS of research before you make the jump. Where I live, some towns require all food be prepared and cooked off-premises in a licensed inspected commercial commissary. Some towns allow for few yet specific sites where you may set up the truck, and some disallow trucks altogether. Spending well north of $100,000 on even a basic used truck isn't unheard of and you best have a fast, consistent signature item or three.

 

It's difficult, but not impossible, to transfer your home cooking skills to a commercial environment, but you may want to get a job in a kitchen cooking first before you take the plunge. There's so much more to owning your own restaurant, even if it has wheels, than just putting good food on a plate.

post #6 of 13

If food trucks are such a pain in the ass, and so much more difficult than a bricks and mortar establishments, why do so many people start food trucks? So many people with little or no commercial kitchen experience? The start up costs for a food truck seem to be less than a restaurant, or is that a fallacy?

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

If food trucks are such a pain in the ass, and so much more difficult than a bricks and mortar establishments, why do so many people start food trucks? So many people with little or no commercial kitchen experience? The start up costs for a food truck seem to be less than a restaurant, or is that a fallacy?

 

I think part of the reason is the advent of "food porn" on TV. So many cooking shows trivialize and glamorize the business. You've got Ramsey calling 10 year olds "Chef" on competition shows. Housewives sometimes appear on Chopped as same. A truck CAN be less expensive to open than brick and mortar, but that depends on the type of restaurant, doesn't it? A small breakfast or lunch counter operation can usually be bought in almost any town across America for under $100k where trucks frequently are north of that number. The advantages of a truck are there, obviously, smaller kitchen staff, no waitstaff, no landlord, ability to change location, etc. But with that comes potential issues not found in a set location, vehicle maintenance, stricter regulations, tight work environment, doing everything yourself with less staff, and on and on. And although Food Trucks are the new rage, far, far fewer people open a food truck than traditional restaurants. It's not even close. It's also much harder to build and maintain a loyal customer base without a set location.

 

Some studies show 60+% of all restaurants fail by their third year. I wonder what that number is for food trucks?

post #8 of 13

Stumbled on an interesting collection of interviews with 32 experts as to why most food trucks fail.

 

Lack of operating capital at start up, lack of business side experience, and high effort with small returns are oft mentioned as reasons for failure.

 

 

 

http://foodtruckempire.com/interviews/fail/

post #9 of 13

My understanding is that the weakest link in bricks and mortar restaurants is staff and personnel. Mismanaging staff and product is the number one reason for failure, from what I've read. Some due to lack of experience and others because of stupidity - but that happens with any business.  Food trucks eliminate the weak link by reducing staff by 90%. I'm also aware of maintaining vehicles, permitting, locations, etc. On the other hand, developing a brand and testing the market with product to see what works is more easily done through a mobile kitchen. Take the product to your customer instead of waiting for your customer to come to you. I know it's very hard work. It's not like you just park your truck somewhere and come back the next day ready for business.  Also, as long as the graphics can easily be replaced and the vehicle is in good condition, closing up shop is a lot easier with a truck than with a restaurant (what's the resale market like for food trucks?). Investment capital for bricks and mortar is a lot more. That's my observation, anyway. Tables/chairs, interior design, infrastructure, marketing, etc. You can buy out leases and fully equipped kitchens but the brand and the FOH would need investment as well. Something a food truck doesn't have other than a chalkboard menu and nifty graphics. Also, many food truck operators have opened bricks and mortar restaurants after garnering a following and developing a well publicized brand. 

 

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand your points. But there are upsides to a food truck, regardless of how trendy they've become as a result of TV shows highlighting the neat fun aspects and totally ignores the behind the scenes shite. The biggest problem I see is permitting and finding parking spaces approved by the city. Two things in NYC that are major obstacles to operating a successful food truck business. The restaurant industry here has it's tentacles firmly lodged in the city and it's agencies. Just like the Taxi and Limousine commission that did everything it could to prevent any direct rail transportation to the three airports. Food trucks 'threaten' the restaurant industry by stealing customers. I know that argument exists elsewhere in the country. The trend seems to be pointing to established chefs opening trucks instead of an investment banker who likes BBQ in his spare time. 

 

Anyway, I like these threads as they provide a valuable professional perspective. Thanks for obliging. And the link. 

post #10 of 13

I understand your thinking. And although staffing is reduced in a food truck simply by design (It can only fit so many bodies) that just means doing more of the work yourself. Longer hours for short money is the end result I feel. I also think it's harder to build a brand when one's location isn't static. Of course, if you are in a municipality that allows you to park in the same place every day, that isn't an issue. (Ours prohibits food trucks from parking at all. They can only drive around and stop when waved down by a potential customer!) Social media plays a pivotal roll and that can be a job in and of itself. The want ads are littered with food trucks for sale for a reason.

post #11 of 13

I went to a food truck festival in Scottsdale, AZ this past summer.  They had over sixty food trucks open.  My observation was that very few were serving decent food.  Many were serving the type of food that is sold to the concessions at carnivals and fairs.  BBQ made from oven braised pork then mixed with sauce.  It had never seen a smoker.  It looked like castleberrys from a can.  Mac and cheese was being made using canned cheese sauce.  On top of that it was expensive.  A BBQ sandwich fresh off the smoker in my area is less than four dollars, they were selling for six to eight.  Bad food, high prices, and no experience is a path for failure.  My next restaurant will be a hot dog cart featuring great dogs.       

post #12 of 13

@Jimyra Agreed. It's the same in downtown Portland Or. At SW Alder. Even though they are stationary, they are considered mobile kitchens. More like stalls on trailers. At any rate. . . 

 

There must be 30 -40 food trucks in one area, and they all serve average to poor food. It's convenient for workers to get lunch in the afternoon, but I was very disappointed in the four or five or six I tried. Great ideas, but bad execution. Don't get me wrong, there are some that were decent, but for the most part, it was just like you describe : concession food for fairs. It is worldly though, as there were "ethnic" foods from around the globe, but nothing spectacular. It seems to have quite the following, though. 


Edited by jake t buds - 6/4/16 at 12:44pm
post #13 of 13

I'm only two hrs from Portland and drive over every few months, one of my hold outs is Viking Soul Food.   The menu changes seasonally for whats in the market.

One Lefse that is always on the menu is the meatball with goat cheese and sweet & sour red cabbage. Oregon pink shrimp is being harvested right now, so there is a shrimp lefse on the menu too.

In the fall it's free range chicken and root veggies. They do a great job, always consistent.

I have tried many carts, a lot of them I was like what the hell did I just pay $8 for??

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