A list of questions to ask yourself before you open a food truck

Lots of people ask us how we produce the food we do with the restrictions placed upon us. We don’t have any cooking equipment on our food truck. Our closest range/oven is 5 miles away at our commissary kitchen. We don’t give people numbers or call names; guests order, pay, and receive their food all in one interaction. The truth is that most of the reasons we do the things we do is because we stumbled into them and figured out the easiest way to work in our spaces as we went. In our most recent Patreon video, I gave an MTV Cribs-style tour of our facilities: the food truck, smokehouse, and commissary. But just seeing our space is only half the story.

When people ask me if I have any advice on opening a food truck, I usually just ask if they are really dedicated to what they want to do and tell them to go for it. But if you are serious about opening a food truck business, you may want to ask yourself a few of the questions below.

Why do you want to do this? Can you cook? Do you like interacting with people? Do you know how to pay taxes? Do you know how to do payroll? Do you know how to repair a walk-in refrigerator? Can you do basic carpentry? Welding? Do you know anything about pest control? What location are you going to be in? Is it a high foot traffic area or are you relying on people to come directly to you? Can you make a schedule? How much money do you need to open and operate for one full year? How do you plan to raise that money? What do you do if nobody comes? Can you work twenty hours straight on a holiday? Can you deal with the smell of grey water? Where do you get your meat and vegetables from? Who raised them? Are you willing to destroy your personal vehicle with spilled food? Can you clean a pot that has been scorched on the bottom? Can you cook rice? Can you cook pasta? Can you wake up before the sun every day? Can you work outside in the heat, the cold, the rain? What would you do if your place of business flooded? What do you do when you can’t make payroll? If you had to borrow money, who would you go to? Who would you hire? What would be your criteria for hiring someone? How would you fire someone? What do you do when the internet goes out during a transaction? What do you do when you lose power with a refrigerator full of food? How long can you keep leftovers? What do you do with leftover food? What is your first move when the health department walks in? Can you dress a salad? Are you an organized person? Do you know how to use a spreadsheet? Are you a detail oriented person? How often do you clean your home kitchen? How do you act when you are overwhelmed? Are you willing or able to miss a paycheck? How do you show praise? Would you go to work the day your pet died? What would you do if another, even worse pandemic struck? What would you do if your supply chain was interrupted? What do you do if you cut yourself in front of a guest? How do you treat an abusive guest? How do you deal with a difficult landlord? Can you use social media efficiently? Can you take a good photograph? Can you be happy doing anything else? Do you have a significant other or children? Would your family support you in this endeavor? How do you react to negative criticism? What is your plan for exiting the business?

I could go on and on with questions like these but the point is that to some cubical warriors self-employment in the form of a mobile kitchen looks glamorously self-reliant. The reality is that it’s a really difficult business that’s dependent on the weather, your location, luck, and your ability to adapt.

Chef/Pitmaster from Austin, Texas

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