New Horizons

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Joined Sep 16, 2019
Hello Cheftalk I am Chef Jeff Lindsey, I have been in food service my whole life, and I share your passion and dedication to providing the best we have to offer to those we aim to please. I am close to retirement age, but have no plans to retire. Instead I would like to open a food truck which is something I have never done and would appreciate any ideas and information you would care to pass on.
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
I have been in food service my whole life,
Ya got me beat there. The first 20 years of my life I wasn't in food service. :~)

I have played around with the idea of a food truck as a hobby thing for when I retire. Going to street fairs around the state on my schedule without having the concern of it needing to be a real money making operation.

That is as far as I have gotten though, just the idea. Even though I am past retirement age for a lot of folks, I haven't had the time to pursue the idea any further because I am too busy working!!! :~)
 
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Joined Sep 16, 2019
Ya got me beat there. The first 20 years of my life I wasn't in food service. :~)

I have played around with the idea of a food truck as a hobby thing for when I retire. Going to street fairs around the state on my schedule without having the concern of it needing to be a real money making operation.

That is as far as I have gotten though, just the idea. Even though I am past retirement age for a lot of folks, I haven't had the time to pursue the idea any further because I am too busy working!!! :~)
I understand, where you are but thanks to the political climate and our economy now days I can no longer afford to retire so I have to look at it as a money making venture. As far as everyone I have met in the business, it seems to be viable and fun if you are passionate about what you do which I am, just don't want the overhead or the headache of a brick and mortar business.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
I looked into opening a food truck a few years ago. It can be expensive and food trucks can have restrictions in terms of what your local HD will allow to be prepared/stored on the truck vs. what cannot be prepared/stored. If your menu requires items that cannot be prepped/stored on the truck, you will have to either 86 the item or rent a commercial kitchen to prep it. That can be a PIA.

In addition to the usual hoops you would have to jump through as an owner/operator of a brick and mortar establishment, you also have the inherent issues of a vehicle such as vehicle insurance, licensing, vehicle maintenance/repairs, generators, power issues, potable water supply and these are just the highlights. These trucks are notoriously hot in the Summer, too.

I know people who have made a good run with their food trucks and made a lot of money doing it. However, regardless of how well or poorly they did, its not something that can be done on a part time basis if you have any expectation of recouping your startup costs.

A serious run at a food truck will take 60+ hours a week, more during the "on season."

But, if these challenges and many more are not daunting, you can also have a lot of fun and make some decent money in the process. The hard part is finding a good truck that's not going to bust the bank.

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

Good luck! :)
 
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Joined Sep 16, 2019
I looked into opening a food truck a few years ago. It can be expensive and food trucks can have restrictions in terms of what your local HD will allow to be prepared/stored on the truck vs. what cannot be prepared/stored. If your menu requires items that cannot be prepped/stored on the truck, you will have to either 86 the item or rent a commercial kitchen to prep it. That can be a PIA.

In addition to the usual hoops you would have to jump through as an owner/operator of a brick and mortar establishment, you also have the inherent issues of a vehicle such as vehicle insurance, licensing, vehicle maintenance/repairs, generators, power issues, potable water supply and these are just the highlights. These trucks are notoriously hot in the Summer, too.

I know people who have made a good run with their food trucks and made a lot of money doing it. However, regardless of how well or poorly they did, its not something that can be done on a part time basis if you have any expectation of recouping your startup costs.

A serious run at a food truck will take 60+ hours a week, more during the "on season."

But, if these challenges and many more are not daunting, you can also have a lot of fun and make some decent money in the process. The hard part is finding a good truck that's not going to bust the bank.

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

Good luck! :)
Thank you, yes I know what you are saying is accurate, and have jumped through a lot of those hoops already, this is not going to be a part time gig, If I actually do this it will be all in. I get what you are saying about what can be stored on the truck and have already addressed this issue by aquiring a commisarry kitchen which is one of the requirements in my area. I appreciate your reply and when I do run into one of the many unforseen issues that will inevitably pop up, I will be sure to ask for more advice.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I understand, where you are but thanks to the political climate and our economy now days I can no longer afford to retire so I have to look at it as a money making venture. As far as everyone I have met in the business, it seems to be viable and fun if you are passionate about what you do which I am, just don't want the overhead or the headache of a brick and mortar business.
I'm not sure where you are located but I'm not sure how politics or the economy are making it unable for you to retire? Here the economy is doing quite well. No offense meant but if you are close to retirement age but cannot for any reason, is starting a business, especially one like a food truck really your best option? I understand nothing ventured nothing gained but it is a significant risk for you simply because of your age. Food trucks don't do so well around here, but we don't have nice weather all year round. So they are basically stuck doing most of their business during the summer months into early fall. Again I'm not sure where you are located so maybe if would be a longer season for you. Maybe you can try and work with someone who already runs a successful food truck operation to get some first hand knowledge?
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2017
Food trucks do really well in our area - the weather allows for year round use and the 'culture' of the area is such that people eat from them a lot.

My number one piece of advice if you go forward with it - get a trailer not a truck. If your truck breaks, you have no way to make your next event / location until it can be repaired - the towing is $$$, the repair is $$$, and while it's down you are not making any $$$.

With a trailer, if your towing truck breaks you can beg, borrow, or steal a temporary replacement one while the vehicle is being repaired. and make the oney you are going to need to pay for the repair in the meantime.
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
My number one piece of advice if you go forward with it - get a trailer not a truck.
Solid advice for a number of reasons, my only concern would be if you are considering downtown areas with parallel parking, a truck would work easier in that scenario. Otherwise, a trailer without a doubt makes great sense.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Food trucks do really well in our area - the weather allows for year round use and the 'culture' of the area is such that people eat from them a lot.

My number one piece of advice if you go forward with it - get a trailer not a truck. If your truck breaks, you have no way to make your next event / location until it can be repaired - the towing is $$$, the repair is $$$, and while it's down you are not making any $$$.

With a trailer, if your towing truck breaks you can beg, borrow, or steal a temporary replacement one while the vehicle is being repaired. and make the oney you are going to need to pay for the repair in the meantime.
That's a good idea, I forgot all about tow behind trailers. I'm not very knowledgeable on the subject but I did work with a catering company that used a trailer for some events and we had to keep a gas generator going the whole time to run everything. I'm not sure if that is the case with a all in one truck if it makes its own power or not but boy was that thing loud and annoying.
 
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Joined Jan 14, 2007
I just quit being a corporate slave after 30 years and went from catering as a part-time business, to opening a food truck (trailer) in a new, purpose-built food pavilion that opened in my area. As stated above, it's a lot of hours, a lot of work, hoops to jump through with the health department, fire department, city, etc. Having said that, I am thoroughly enjoying it and all of us at the venue are doing well financially.

I found a used trailer on https://www.usedvending.com/ . The broker was great to deal with and I found something in good shape for significantly less than a new one. One word of advice when you find something used, inspect it thoroughly! I checked it out, made sure the flat top worked, the deep fryer, the refrigeration units, freezer, etc. One thing I didn't check well was the roof. I did a visual inspecction, but should have had them throw a hose up there and let water run for a while. When it started raining here, I found some small leaks. Not a big deal, just trouble I wasn't expecting.

Another thing I would consider carefully is space. You might want to buy larger than you initially think. My 24' trailer seemed huge, until I got all my supplies inside and have employees inside with me. It's still quite operational, but the "extra space" I thought I'd have, vanished :)
 
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