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 Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck?

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VenusPaw

  • Total Posts: 36
  • Joined: 11/28/2010
  • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/22/11 11:12 PM (permalink)
   Hi, all, I couldn't make my DD bus idea fly but I'm on the verge of purchasing a truck and need your advice, particularly if you have food truck experience. As the post says I have two options, I can buy a truck with all of the equipment I would need, this would be more expensive than option B, which is buying a more bare bones truck and using a commercial kitchen at $16.50/hr., then simply reheating the prepared foods on the truck (for reference, I'm thinking soups and paninis). All things being equal I would go with the better-equipped truck (duh!) but I'm estimating said rig would cost $10K+ more than the lesser truck. $10K divided by $16.50/hr=606 hours of commissary time to break even but I don't want to make this decision solely based on money: I'm wondering if the less cramped commercial kitchen might make the cooking more enjoyable.
   I have more questions but I'm going to limit them to one per post so nothing gets lost. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
 
#1
    Foodbme

    • Total Posts: 9579
    • Joined: 9/1/2006
    • Location: Gilbert, AZ
    Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Fri, 09/23/11 4:37 AM (permalink)
    Doesn't sound like you need an extensive on-board kitchen if your Basic Menu is primarily Soups and Panini's
    They're relatively easy to make and you don't need much equipment. I'd do it on-board.
    If you add more complicated dishes, then a commissary might be better.
    Finalize your menu first, THEN decide if you need a commissary/kitchen or not and how much equipment you need on the truck to support your menu.
    Operating out of a commissary requires more time, more handling of product, more scheduling issues to prepare your food, extra steps in the prep process, etc.
    You have better control and time savings doing it on-board.
    <message edited by Foodbme on Fri, 09/23/11 4:54 AM>
     
    #2
      Foodbme

      • Total Posts: 9579
      • Joined: 9/1/2006
      • Location: Gilbert, AZ
      Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Fri, 09/23/11 5:24 AM (permalink)
      This is like the 3rd or 4th thread you've created with pie in the sky ideas about starting a food truck. You've gone from Double Deck Buses to Donuts, to Soups, from KY to OR to ski resorts with no concrete plan to do anything. When you're done day dreaming and are 100% committed, get back to us with concrete decisions, commitment and a plan and we'll try to help you.
      Don't know if you watch the TV Show, "Shark Tank". It's about entrepreneurs going in front of a group of sharp investors asking them to invest money in their idea. If you went in front of them with no concrete plan and tried to sell them on your idea, they would chew you up and spit you out in no time.
       
      #3
        VenusPaw

        • Total Posts: 36
        • Joined: 11/28/2010
        • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
        Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Fri, 09/23/11 12:09 PM (permalink)
           I appreciated your first response and I can't agree more that the menu should come first. Having never worked inside a food truck I'm just concerned with the space limitations.
          As for your second lame and rude response, I didn't realize I needed your approval before asking a question on these boards. Silly me, I thought that was the EXACT purpose of a message board, to get information that one wasn't previously privy to. I'm not going into details, but my wife and myself have made a cross-country move to a mountain resort to make such a dream come true, this after I took a semesters worth of culinary classes solely to learn some of the business aspects of the food industry. Do I have your approval to ask my "pie in the sky questions", now?
           You have the choice to respond or not to respond but keep your scolding comments to yourself.
        <message edited by VenusPaw on Fri, 09/23/11 1:09 PM>
         
        #4
          Teej

          • Total Posts: 19
          • Joined: 9/7/2011
          • Location: Chatsworth, GA
          Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Fri, 09/23/11 3:29 PM (permalink)
          I think the answer to your question goes back to the old "know the regs of your location" thing. I know in GA, you can't cook from scratch on a truck. Everything must be prepared in a commissary or other inspected food establishment. For instance, I can't take raw ground beef and make burger patties in a truck or trailer, I would have to buy frozen and use them. Find out what you can and can't do in the locations you plan to service and they will make your decision a bit easier I think.
           
          #5
            Foodbme

            • Total Posts: 9579
            • Joined: 9/1/2006
            • Location: Gilbert, AZ
            Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Fri, 09/23/11 5:14 PM (permalink)
            I'm a small business consultant. I move clients out of their comfort zone and help them take a realistic look at their goals and ambitions and move from ideas to action. I help them sort through all the what if's. That usually makes them uncomfortable but it helps them decide if  it is really what they want to do and have the COMMITMENT to actually do it. Some decide they don't have the commitment, some do. Some succeed, some fail. I see you at the edge of go or no-go. The objective of my comment was not to be rude but to rattle your cage and cause you to get out of the thinking about it stage and take action and decide if the dream is real or not and move on to something else.
            You have a nack for putting the cart before the horse. Before you made the cross-country move to a mountain resort to make such a dream come true, did you check to see if you would be permitted to operate a food truck in the area where you want to live and operate? I've been called a Tough Love guy. I make people think and make go, no-go decisions.
            <message edited by Foodbme on Fri, 09/23/11 5:19 PM>
             
            #6
              Dr of BBQ

              • Total Posts: 3716
              • Joined: 10/11/2004
              • Location: Springfield, IL
              • Roadfood Insider
              Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Sat, 09/24/11 1:09 AM (permalink)
              I'm of a slightly different mind than Foodbme. I dramatically dislike people that come here and ask all kinds of questions that they should and are able to research on their own.
               
              It's obvious that there are a ton of soft hearted  individuals that contribute to RF and go out of there way to research and post answers to the lame (oh I could look it up but) someone on RF will do it for me crowd.
               
              And when the all embracing will this work questions, are posted the answers generally come from people that really don't know what the heck they are talking about, because it's it's nonspecific and everyone has an opinion. It makes me crazy. Really! LMAO
               
              If you have a plan stick to it or trash it, but tell everyone here that you trashed it and why. Don't ask a question until you have put in a 100% effort to find the answer. Like doing hours of research, HOURS AND HOURS, and talked with in person those that oversee the area restaurant business. Talk to the HD, fire department, zoning department,  who ever in your area is in charge. You have to please them not us. RF posters can tell you, you have the golden plan and your bound to make a million dollars a day, but what are you going to do if we are wrong?
               
              We can't help you if you won't help yourself first. You said "I'm wondering if the less cramped commercial kitchen might make the cooking more enjoyable."
               
              When I first read that I cracked up. It's work not a hobby. It's darn hard work. It's long hours on your feet, concentrating on every step of the process and every day is different so it never allows you to just slide through a day like those that work regular jobs. And then when the rush is over and all you want to do is drink a beer or two and go to bed you have to instead start planing tomorrows work. LMAO
               
              So my big bitch is if you won't spend the hours, days, months, researching on line and going to sit down with the locals that run the show, you'll never be willing to do the really hard work that it takes to run a food operation.
               
              Now it's up to you "Show ME"
               
              And I really hope you do.
               
              I have to add one thing. I have cooked a zillion tons of meat in my life,.....well it seems like I have, it really does seem like that much . At least, LOL. And just recently I got to thinking about how I could make my brisket better and tried something new. It worked and I think the 3 or 4 experiments I worked on during my one day a week off paid off big time. But if I were not willing to give up my day on the lake for 3 weeks in a row and try something new I'd still be smoking brisket the same old way.
               
              I promise it's work. And it's hard on your family and friends.
               
              #7
                Foodbme

                • Total Posts: 9579
                • Joined: 9/1/2006
                • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Sat, 09/24/11 1:35 AM (permalink)
                Dr of BBQ,
                You and I are of the same mindset. I agree with everything you said. We've let this guy waste our time. I doubt we'll ever see a post from him that says he bought a truck and is up and operational and doing well at whatever he decides to cook.
                 
                #8
                  lornaschinske

                  • Total Posts: 1610
                  • Joined: 3/4/2009
                  • Location: Roswell, NM until we leave for another place
                  Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Sat, 09/24/11 10:59 AM (permalink)
                  Dr of BBQ

                   ... just recently I got to thinking about how I could make my brisket better and tried something new. It worked and I think the 3 or 4 experiments I worked on during my one day a week off paid off big time....

                  It never ends! If you want to stay ahead in this business, you will be tweaking your menu always. Not big things like a 90% overhaul of your menu (which we have done... at an event) but daily " what can I do to make this a little better" type things. I've tweaked my chili dog sauce recipe several times and we only started in March 2009.. 4 states later (or would that be three since we are in NM for the 2nd time) and I'm still adjusting seasons (no more hot dogs when we go to Roswell though).
                   
                  I an a big fan of small kitchens. If laid out right, they can save you many steps.. and I used to be a residential kitchen designer where everything thing is bigger, bigger. A galley kitchen is the most efficient use of space. But you need to  know what you will be cooking in it. Contact your local HD (where you want to sell at) and ask them what you are allowed to sell. Personally I think the use of commissaries is the stupidest move. You are relying on someone else to keep their end of things clean. What if one other person using the commissary gets shut down by the HD? That means the kitchen is probably shut down as well.  Most all your questions have already been answered already. Do searches for them and , in particular, read up on the postings that are made by the folks who are running rigs like you want to operate. Keep a notebook of notes as you read. I read here for quite some time before I posted. Reading the older threads helped me as they had questions that I hadn't even thought of.
                   
                  Talk to your HD and see what you can serve

                  Get your menu pretty much in place

                  Then you can decide if a food truck or commissary will work better.
                   
                  I like control so I would opt for the truck... but we are too mobile to rely on a commissary. If you are doing soups and sandwiches I would stay with self contained. But that is basically our menu (soups come winter) and we do it on a self built 5X6 food cart. Single burner, hot table, cold table, coolers for drinks and we will replace the "meat" cooler with a commercial ref since the NM HD is leaning that way. If we had it to do over (which we won't) we wouldn't have sliced the 5X10 flatbed trailer down so small (lopped off everything past the rear axle and rebuilt the wheel covers). We sure could use about 2 or three foot of storage space, David would like another burner and we would have run the counters down the sides not across the front and rear. But can't rebuild it in the campgrounds!
                   
                  #9
                    JodyP

                    • Total Posts: 322
                    • Joined: 1/15/2008
                    • Location: Cumming, GA
                    Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Sun, 09/25/11 10:59 PM (permalink)
                    Actually you can go from raw to cooked in some mobile units. A couple of the licensed food trucks in Atlanta do every day. The problem is that I seriously doubt that an individual could build one on their own. The fabrication that goes into the just building the sink system is astonishing. A 3 compartment, a hand wash, a veggie prep sink and a meat prep sink. You will also be required to have certified NSF refrigeration for the raw foods, separate refrigeration for prepared foods and separate work areas for raw and cooked.  You will also be required to have every piece of cooking apparatus NSF certified.  With the exception of the cooking apparatus most of the items in these trucks are fabricated onsite by the manufacturer and are not available for sell on a individual bases. Then the bottom line is that most HD’s look at homemade truck a lot differently then commercially made trucks.
                     
                    #10
                      VenusPaw

                      • Total Posts: 36
                      • Joined: 11/28/2010
                      • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
                      Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Mon, 09/26/11 1:46 PM (permalink)
                      Thanks to most of you for responses, I truly appreciate the info, the exceptions being FoodBme and DrBBQ. I come seeking advice and get attacked by these two clowns. Forgive me moderators but I'm only finishing what Frick and Frack started. If you two don't like my questions, don't respond, but keep the personal insults to yourselves. DrBBQ, that was a nice Freudian slip you had there ("You have to please them not us"). What in my posts led you to believe that I was looking to "please" anyone? Is that what you think your role is here, to be "pleased"? You said it, Hoss, not me. I asked specific questions, which generally bring specific answers, and which everyone else managed to do, but you and your tag-team partner decided you're above it all and tried your hands at playing amateur psychologists, miserably at that. Speaking of which, FoodBme, you're joking that you really charge clients for this type of "consultation", aren't you? "You're right, he won't be back, FoodBme. We got him, we got him good. He won't do it, he's a big chicken. Oh look, he did it because we baited him!" Exactly how old are your "clients", six? Even auto dealers (25 years experience) have begun to toss aside this ridiculous, antiquated, management style for "motivating" employees.
                      Finally, since you two seem incapable of civility, I'll be the adult and extend an olive branch. I promise that when the day comes that I desire career advice from two legends-in-their-own-minds, I'll hit you guys up. Until then, feel free to, and digest these words carefully, ANSWER my questions.
                      <message edited by VenusPaw on Mon, 09/26/11 4:33 PM>
                       
                      #11
                        Dr of BBQ

                        • Total Posts: 3716
                        • Joined: 10/11/2004
                        • Location: Springfield, IL
                        • Roadfood Insider
                        Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Mon, 09/26/11 6:24 PM (permalink)
                        VenusPaw
                        Thanks to most of you for responses, I truly appreciate the info, the exceptions being FoodBme and DrBBQ. DrBBQ, that was a nice Freudian slip you had there ("You have to please them not us"). What in my posts led you to believe that I was looking to "please" anyone? Is that what you think your role is here, to be "pleased"? You said it, Hoss, not me.l

                         
                        LMAO  If you'd bothered to read my post carefully you would have noted I said" talk with in person those that oversee the area restaurant businesses. Talk to the HD, fire department, zoning department,  who ever in your area is in charge. You have to please them not us."
                         
                        Again good luck

                         
                        #12
                          VenusPaw

                          • Total Posts: 36
                          • Joined: 11/28/2010
                          • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
                          Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Mon, 09/26/11 9:30 PM (permalink)
                          Where to begin? I'm glad I could make you LYAO but since education isn't your strong suit, allow me to explain it...don't worry, I'll type slowly. Your Freudian slip was in CHOOSING to say "please". Look, we can go round and round about this forever, me explaining, you lacking the ability to understand, but I won't, since pointing out your lack of intelligence would be rude, as you were towards me. Let's simply agree that customer service isn't your forte, something you've undoubtedly been told numerous times. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, it's just a flaw you possess. See how it sucks to be dumped on? I'm nothing but respectful on these forums and will continue to be, that is, until a couple of wannabe Gordon Ramsey's attempt to insult me. If it costs me my posting privileges, so be it, but not before I call you two knuckleheads out. I come here for guidance, and sometimes support. If that's too much for you to bear, I don't give a rat's ass. You've "been there, done that", a fact I, and I'm sure many others, fully respect. But just because I don't do things as you feel I SHOULD, or because I've asked more questions than your allotted quota allows, I'm "lame". Really? Why the hate, brother? Who s**t in your Wheaties this morning? If I'm ever out of line, call me on it and I'll apologize. I'm letting you and Frack know that you were both out of line, so will you do the same? I'll hang up and listen.
                           
                          #13
                            lornaschinske

                            • Total Posts: 1610
                            • Joined: 3/4/2009
                            • Location: Roswell, NM until we leave for another place
                            Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Mon, 09/26/11 10:44 PM (permalink)
                            Enough already. VenusPaw, Dr of BBQ has been vending food for a long time. As has Foodbme. You can learn a lot from them. You have asked many newby questions that have been asked (repeatedly) and you can find the answers via a search. First and foremost, you should have read the "sticky" Starting a Hot Dog Cart Business that is on the Professional Hot Dog Vendors forum (which I think needs to re renamed to Food Vendors rather than Hot Dog Vendors). Next you should have written your questions down and did a search for the questions that have already been answered. Make note... make LOTS of notes. Get a loose leaf binder and fill it with notes.
                             
                            You have been spitballing your ideas online with very little background research done. You need to know what is required by your local Health Department. We can't tell you what you need for your area. Every state is different. We have vended in 4 different states so far, and they all have different rules. If you need help with how to follow a health dept rule, we can help there.  Places to stay away from, screwy event requirements, scams (there are several out there), how to handle bad/irate customers, various promotions that work in the real world, what to look for in a street site. Even how to cook some foods or, even better, how NOT to cook some foods. Those we can help with. What we cannot do is tell you if a certain menu will work. We can't set your prices. We can't tell you financially what you should do and you would get various answers anyway from the "do it on a shoestring" (which is what we did but we are pro remodelers and can build anything) to the "finance everything and hire someone to run it".
                             
                            You have got to get with your HD and become friends with them. If you become friends, they will explain their rules. When you ask NICELY "What do I need to do to comply with that regulation", they will tell you and you need to TAKE NOTES RIGHT THEN, not later. Keep a small note pad in your pocket to note down their responses. Also get a hard copy of the current regulations for your area. Use a highlighter and highlight everything that pertains to your food vehicle. I would strongly suggest that you set up to be completely self contained. It's not that big of a deal and as for a triple bowl sink, you can use 3 water bath pans. Sinks are easy, it's just the real estate they take up. You will need an NSF faucet. We bought two brand new ones for $10 in TX.
                             
                            BTW, if you have moved from KY, you need to update your location. When we give advise, it helps to have the correct location since some advice is location dependent.
                            <message edited by lornaschinske on Mon, 09/26/11 10:48 PM>
                             
                            #14
                              JodyP

                              • Total Posts: 322
                              • Joined: 1/15/2008
                              • Location: Cumming, GA
                              Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Tue, 09/27/11 9:44 AM (permalink)
                              Food trucks and carts (Enclosed mobile kitchens) are hot and will continue to be so. They fill in gap between fast food and high end food. Certain cities across the USA are beginning to embrace the street food culture. Cities like Atlanta seem to prefer enclosed units as opposed to open carts. Quite frankly the chances of getting an open cart approved in Atlanta are slim to none. If anyone watched the Food Truck Race two Sundays ago they would have seen our mayor eating from one of the trucks.
                               
                              I have been looking for a site that centers itself on the street food culture but haven’t really found one. Food truck and cart owners are unique because of their ability to prepare a wide variety of food items. At the local food truck events you can eat anything from a Hot Reuben to a Korean taco. The food lineup is generally not found at fast food joints and even some brick and mortar establishments. This scene is unique because it targets a higher end cliental that is not afraid to spend money. For an example one of my fellow cart operators who normally sell hotdogs at festivals and events now serves up a grilled sausage with onions and peppers for $8.00. (He operates out of a 14’ commercially built cart). My menu consists of hot pressed sandwiches that sell for around $6.00 to $7.00 each. I also offer a couple of lower cost sandwiches and sides. Most of the local Food Truck events are either in areas where there is a high density of office workers or held near high end neighborhoods for dinner gatherings. It kind of gives the customers a food court atmosphere without going to the mall and with a better or different selection of foods.
                               
                              My suggestion to anyone looking to get into this business is to at least have the interior of your unit built by a professional fabricator. If your sinks, walls, floor and plumbing are built or look to be built professionally then you will have half the battle for HD approval won. We added the cooking apparatus, stainless steel tables and refrigeration ourselves. (No different then a brick and mortar) The cool thing above this is that you add only what you need and you can always change your layout. Next plan your menu to be profitable. If I sell a hotdog or shaved ice for $2.00 I only have a gross profit of $1.35 per sell. If I sell a Reuben for $7.00 I will have a gross profit of over $4.00 per sell. (50 x $1.35 = $67.50 or 50 x $4.00 = $200.00) (Not an accurate breakdown but close enough for an example) One more thing to consider most young people doesn’t carry cash. It is hard to accept credit / debit for small sells. We just got a wireless credit card machine for doing the food truck events.
                               
                              Lornaschinske is right about we may be out growing this forum. Brick and Mortar on one end and Hot Dog carts on the other end is a little too spread out. I would love to see a Food Truck section and a Festival section. As it is most of us just post between the two. A festival section would be a great way to share your experiences good or bad at festival and events. Also it would be a great place to discuss issues about doing festivals and events. The Food Truck section could cover anything between menus, set ups and what’s happening on the streets.
                              I searched the post for food trucks and only found 45 posts. Setting up and cooking inside a mobile kitchen posse several problems especially if you have never done any production cooking and serving. Search catering trucks on the internet and look at the layouts of the large catering trucks. The layouts are designed for production and do not really represent what some of the concession trailer builders offer.
                               
                              Anyone looking to gain a little insight on the Atlanta Food Truck / Cart events PM me.
                               
                              #15
                                lornaschinske

                                • Total Posts: 1610
                                • Joined: 3/4/2009
                                • Location: Roswell, NM until we leave for another place
                                Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Tue, 09/27/11 10:39 AM (permalink)
                                JodyP

                                ... I have been looking for a site that centers itself on the street food culture but haven’t really found one...


                                this is what I have found...
                                http://www.mobilefoodnews.com/
                                 
                                JodyP
                                ... I would love to see a Food Truck section and a Festival section...


                                I think a Mobile Food Vendor designation rather than the Hot Dog Vendor would do better. Even then we will still be posting in both the Restaurant and Mobile sections. So many things overlap. As for the "Food Truck Craze", that will last until something new comes along. Some will still be out there, others won't. The biggest thing about a mobile kitchen over a hot dog cart is the flexibility in your menus. And Health Departments simply don't like hot dog carts.  A mobile kitchen will allow you to test and change your menus fairly easily and quickly. Street food used to be big in many cities. Now it is making a comeback. TV has a lot to do with the widespread interest in street food. But I think shows like the Food Truck Race are very misleading. How many folks will eat a a place with a camera crew all over it? LOTS. So that is unrealistic. I don't get the love affair with cameras. I'm in the "duck and cover" group... I avoid cameras like I'm in a Witness Protection Program. I only watched part of one show so I really can't say. I dislike the so called "Reality" shows since they are far removed from reality. I heard they are going to make a "reality" show on fulltime RVers... I bet it will be more like the movie "RV" than reality. Too many folks will watch the Food Truck show and think "that looks like fun and I'll get rich doing that. No, it's WORK. And it's HARD WORK. As for the $$. Some places are good, others not.
                                 
                                JodyP
                                ... plan your menu to be profitable. If I sell a hotdog or shaved ice for $2.00 I only have a gross profit of $1.35 per sell. If I sell a Reuben for $7.00 I will have a gross profit of over $4.00 per sell. (50 x $1.35 = $67.50 or 50 x $4.00 = $200.00) (Not an accurate breakdown but close enough for an example) One more thing to consider most young people doesn’t carry cash. It is hard to accept credit / debit for small sells.

                                That is a biggie. We know of at least two local B&M restaurants that have pulled our prices off our food cart. They simply can't do that. One folded after about 6 months. The other is ...? All I know is when we got here, two other places were doing some sort of BBQ. Everyone who had our Pulled Pork BBQ (a new thing in this town) said it was the best in town. Now both places that had been serving BBQ offer "pulled pork" plus a few other restaurants have added it on. We are said to still have the best.
                                 
                                We run a cash business. No plastic. Not going to. We have lost very few sales because of that. Most of those were for folks wanting a $1 soda. But we want to stay small.We are supposed to be "semi-retired". We aren't looking to add on multiple carts. I'm sure the campgrounds we stay in would be thrilled to see us roll in with several food carts... NOT! That is the great thing about the food carts. You can easily keep it small and mobile. We just want to work 9 to 10 months of the year and take off for the other months and find a cooler spot for the summer. . Also since we live in an RV and will be eventually moving back to an area where hurricanes are possible, we need to be able to leave out at the 72 hour warning. Not too easily done with multiple food carts! As it stands right now, I THINK I will be at or an inch or two under the combined 65 ft max length for triple towing for our "worst case scenario" (one of us is sick, leaving one driver and we have to leave out due to weather). I have to measure the jeep hooked up to the food cart and the add that plus the Jeeps tow bar to the length of the 40 ft bus. Triple towing is only legal on certain roads.
                                <message edited by lornaschinske on Tue, 09/27/11 10:51 AM>
                                 
                                #16
                                  chefbuba

                                  • Total Posts: 1956
                                  • Joined: 6/22/2009
                                  • Location: Near You, WA
                                  Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Tue, 09/27/11 12:08 PM (permalink)
                                  Teej


                                  I think the answer to your question goes back to the old "know the regs of your location" thing. I know in GA, you can't cook from scratch on a truck. Everything must be prepared in a commissary or other inspected food establishment. For instance, I can't take raw ground beef and make burger patties in a truck or trailer, I would have to buy frozen and use them. Find out what you can and can't do in the locations you plan to service and they will make your decision a bit easier I think.

                                  What's the difference between fresh raw beef and frozen raw beef?
                                   
                                  #17
                                    Teej

                                    • Total Posts: 19
                                    • Joined: 9/7/2011
                                    • Location: Chatsworth, GA
                                    Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Tue, 09/27/11 1:40 PM (permalink)
                                    I'm wrong. I just re-read the code. I'm pretty new and don't fix any meat (I make fruit cobbler and homemade ice cream at local festivals). Hazardous foods must be prepared in an enclosed area and thermostatically controlled. A commissary (base of operation) is still required.
                                     

                                    (f)

                                    Operation.

                                    1. Mobile food service units and extended food service units shall operate from a base of operation

                                    or fixed food service establishment.

                                    2. Mobile food service units shall report at least daily to such location for supplies and/or cleaning

                                    and servicing operations.

                                    3. Extended food service units shall be serviced daily from the base of operation.

                                    4. The base of operation or fixed food service establishment used as a base of operation for mobile

                                    food units and extended food service units shall be constructed and operated in conjunction with the

                                    mobile food service unit or extended food service unit to be in compliance with the requirements of

                                    this Chapter.

                                    5. When not in use, mobile food service units shall be properly stored at the base of operation or

                                    other location approved by the Health Authority.

                                    (g)

                                    Construction.

                                    1. Units preparing and serving potentially hazardous foods shall be so constructed that the operator

                                    must prepare and serve food from within a fully enclosed area of the unit. Units preparing snow

                                    cones and popcorn shall be constructed so that the food preparation and service areas are fully

                                    enclosed.

                                     
                                     
                                    #18
                                      VenusPaw

                                      • Total Posts: 36
                                      • Joined: 11/28/2010
                                      • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
                                      Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Wed, 09/28/11 12:39 PM (permalink)
                                         Lorna, I thank you for your response(s), really I do, but I respectfully disagree with what you wrote. Just because someone has years of experience smoking hogs doesn't excuse their rude behavior and I will call them out on it every single time and I'm a little flummoxed that you've chosen me as the culprit here. Why about my posts have led you to believe that I haven't done my research? If one reads a redundant thread title one should simply walk on by and not answer, unless they can do respectfully, but spare the insults, we're all adults...that's all I'm saying. Now that that's out of the way...
                                         Reread my posts, I didn't ask any health dept. questions, I asked specific, targeted questions, i.e. "Can I run a food truck solo?" so I'm bumfuzzled at the direction the responses have taken in this thread. For instance, in this particular thread I wanted to know whether I could save money by having/not having all appliances on board, but the next thing you know someone is berating me for my DD bus question of several months ago. WTH? And you're telling me that I'm in the wrong? BALDERDASH!!! You should be telling them to stay on point rather than chastising me for asking help. And where are these archived threads that I've supposedly duplicated because I sure can't find them? Example, DRBBQ wrote: "I'm of a slightly different mind than Foodbme. I dramatically dislike people that come here and ask all kinds of questions that they should and are able to research on their own.", and Lorna, you said: "You have been spitballing your ideas online with very little background research done." Where should I ask such questions? ESPN? Hotwire? Expedia? You tell me, I'm all ears. And how you came to the conclusion that I haven't done my due diligence, simply because I asked a few questions is a head-scratcher, but I digress. Even if I were to ask a duplicate question, and this is the crux of the issue, why be such an ass about it? This forum will quickly shrivel and die if not for duplicate threads as there would be nothing new to talk about, unless, oh, let's say someone asked a "lame" (DRBBQ, again) question about a DD bus every now and then. See my point? Of course I should look in archived threads for basic info, particularly if that's what I wanted to know, but not once did I ask such questions. I have been to my local health department, I know what they require, the fact that some have reading comprehension issues is on them, not me. Cheese and crackers, I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. Before answering, read and digest the actual words, don't go off half-cocked assuming you know what I wrote. 
                                         If these boards are to have a few regular posters who regurgitate the same tired responses in a rude fashion yet contribute nothing new, have at it, but don't be surprised when the newbies quit showing up. The fastest way for a business to go belly up is for the old to die and not be replaced. As a matter of fact there is an active thread (gosh, how did I know that since I don't read the other posts?) questioning the lack of activity on these boards...perhaps this should be a wake up call for some of you. 
                                        Lost in all of this are the wonderful and helpful responses from so many of you...I greatly appreciate it. I'm also sorry if this rant comes off as directed at you Lorna because that wasn't my intention, you just backed the wrong team, and they ARE in the wrong. Btw, I'm taking your advice and updating my location, thanks for pointing that out.
                                      <message edited by VenusPaw on Wed, 09/28/11 1:33 PM>
                                       
                                      #19
                                        jcheese

                                        • Total Posts: 740
                                        • Joined: 3/5/2011
                                        • Location: Fieldale, VA
                                        Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Wed, 09/28/11 8:19 PM (permalink)
                                        Sir, you've attacked some of the most respected people on this Forum. Maybe you should just go away and find another one.
                                         
                                        #20
                                          jcheese

                                          • Total Posts: 740
                                          • Joined: 3/5/2011
                                          • Location: Fieldale, VA
                                          Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Wed, 09/28/11 8:26 PM (permalink)
                                          And to answer yer original question.......I would much rather cook in my "Unit" than use a commisary. If in my driveway, I can come and go as I please. My own hours, no fees.
                                           
                                          #21
                                            MobileCuisine

                                            • Total Posts: 63
                                            • Joined: 1/4/2011
                                            • Location: BERWYN, IL
                                            Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Wed, 09/28/11 9:24 PM (permalink)
                                            JodyP
                                            I have been looking for a site that centers itself on the street food culture but haven’t really found one.

                                             
                                            Not to toot my horn too much, but please feel free to check out my site Mobile Cuisine Magazine at http://mobile-cuisine.com
                                             
                                            The site specifically targets the mobile food industry. Not only do we provide news and information for food truck owners, but also information for those interested in joining the industry themselves.
                                             
                                            -MC
                                             
                                            #22
                                              VenusPaw

                                              • Total Posts: 36
                                              • Joined: 11/28/2010
                                              • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
                                              Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Wed, 09/28/11 9:33 PM (permalink)
                                              "Sir, you've attacked some of the most respected people on this Forum. Maybe you should just go away and find another one."
                                              I'VE attacked? You're right: it's best I leave. Thanks to all for your helpful responses and that includes those with whom I've differed in this thread. My best to you all.
                                              Mobile, I'm on my way.
                                              <message edited by VenusPaw on Wed, 09/28/11 9:37 PM>
                                               
                                              #23
                                                BackAlleyBurger

                                                • Total Posts: 1077
                                                • Joined: 1/30/2011
                                                • Location: FAYETTEVILLE, NC
                                                Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 4:35 AM (permalink)
                                                JodyP
                                                My suggestion to anyone looking to get into this business is to at least have the interior of your unit built by a professional fabricator. If your sinks, walls, floor and plumbing are built or look to be built professionally then you will have half the battle for HD approval won. 

                                                 
                                                while i agree as a whole with your post................ i have to adamantly disagree with the above statement.
                                                maybe myself and a few others here were cut from a different cloth from your garden variety interested party, but there is nothing technically demanding about building a food truck, or most any other thing for that matter.
                                                a basic knowledge of simple hand tools, adhering to the creed "measure twice cut once", a little common sense, lots of patients, and a good dose of "attention to detail" are all thats needed to produce excellent results that can rival most any professional ........
                                                and as proven by the "HOOD INSTALLATION FROM HELL" thread/post(i forget right off hand who it is) running to a "pro" isnt always the best idea...
                                                i do agree with the idea of "pro" results getting you a long way with the HD, everyone likes to see smart corners and strait lines, proper materials and well executed plans....
                                                 
                                                i am a big advocate of DIY, and i think more people should be also.... it gives a great feeling of pride to stand back and look upon your own creation.... not to mention it saves you thousands in labor costs
                                                 
                                                from what i have gathered, by having a pro do the build, depending on level of job, your looking anywhere from 10k to over 100k..... thats a lot of green i would rather use to operate my business with, then shell out right off the bat......
                                                and using the "time factor" argument wont cut it either, lol...... some of those pro builders are 2 years out in there schedules ! even if you spend a year doing your own build, that still gives you a year head start on actually tweaking what you have, whats actually going to work for you, and how you need/want it set up after getting into it and you start to figure things out....
                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  BackAlleyBurger

                                                  • Total Posts: 1077
                                                  • Joined: 1/30/2011
                                                  • Location: FAYETTEVILLE, NC
                                                  Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 4:58 AM (permalink)
                                                  JodyP
                                                   You will also be required to have every piece of cooking apparatus NSF certified. 

                                                   
                                                  not even going to get into the sink debate, i think its rather very easy to build a sink system.....
                                                   
                                                  point of this post is to clarify something about NSF certification for those that may not be aware....
                                                   
                                                  if your local HD "demands" that everything be NSF, then they are TECHNICALLY in violation of federal laws
                                                  the National Sanitation Foundation is a privately owned/funded entity, and by law, a local/state/federal entity cannot force you to adhere to their standards....
                                                   
                                                  yes yes yes, i know, you are probably shooting yourself in the foot if you try to argue that point with them, but there are ways to ease it into a "negotiation" about equipment standards that you may try to use....
                                                   
                                                  i feel that if you become friendly with them, build a report,  ask questions until the cows come home, and choose equipment that follows the spirit of the certifications, then you should be ok.......just get it in writing before spending the money......
                                                   
                                                  back to the sinks..... really ?......astonishing ??
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    JodyP

                                                    • Total Posts: 322
                                                    • Joined: 1/15/2008
                                                    • Location: Cumming, GA
                                                    Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 9:09 AM (permalink)
                                                    All I know is that in Georgia / Fulton County / City of Atlanta is that NSF certified apparatus must be used especially if raw foods are being handled. The one piece of equipment they will nail you on is the sinks. All NSF certified sinks are built with cove seams. Sinks cannot be cut or modified in any way. By the way most of the standard certifications that are required by different agencies are all from private owned / funded organizations.
                                                     
                                                    Fulton County / City of Atlanta does indeed allow raw to cook on some of the food trucks. (Remember that local jurisdictions can and do amend to laws to suit their needs.) The state code is a guideline for local HD’s to build on.  Fulton County / City of Atlanta; Athens and Savannah all have their own HD code and all three have different requirements for mobile food vendors. Fulton County is allowing a mobile food vendor and the restaurant to operate out of the same kitchen. (Only one mobile food vendor per restaurant)  One of the local counties I do a Monthly market in allows you to use you home as a commissary. According to the state code your commissary is a place to store, secure the mobile unit and provide what ever services your rig cannot supply. By law depending on what you do a home based commissary could work.
                                                     
                                                    The main reason to know the state code is because a lot of the rural HD’s use the state code 100%. Just think of it as an earlier form of the bible that can be interpreted in many ways. Some of the HD’s that use the code 100% are not going to allow you to vary from the code. Some of the areas I have mentioned above have rewritten the code to suit their needs. Athens likes street vendors because it gives the town a European look and Atlanta is really embracing the street food culture. Neither of these would exist if they followed the state code 100%.
                                                     
                                                    But the one thing that I have seen prevalent is that the HD’s like commercially built units a lot better than home made units. I am not saying that one is not capable of building a home made unit to rival a commercial unit; but I do know that most people are not capable of doing the fabrication required to make a home made unit the same as a commercial unit. HD’s love stainless steel and lots of it. As far as the sinks go my unit uses a commercially available sink installed by the manufacturer and its nothing out of the ordinary. Stainless Steel NSF sink set in a stainless steel counter top over an enclosed cabinet. The issue with sinks depends on you unit and the space requirements. Most food truck builders are capable of fabricating their sinks to fit in confined spaces and still pass HD requirements. The key here is being able to fabricate something to fit as opposed to trying to fit around something already made. This is especially important on trucks cooking from raw to finish and the sink requirements. I have seen way to many mobile units, including my own, that waste way to much space on sinks. I could have easily placed the 3 compartment sink, a vegetable prep sink and the hand wash sink in the same space.
                                                     
                                                    Again I am not attacking anyone’s ability to build a mobile unit. I just have not really seen a home built unit look 100% like a commercial unit.
                                                     
                                                    #26
                                                      Southernsmoke

                                                      • Total Posts: 53
                                                      • Joined: 9/19/2010
                                                      • Location: Canada, XX
                                                      Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 1:59 PM (permalink)
                                                      Get everything you can on your truck, you WILL want it down the road..why bother with a commisary if you don't have to!
                                                       
                                                      #27
                                                        lornaschinske

                                                        • Total Posts: 1610
                                                        • Joined: 3/4/2009
                                                        • Location: Roswell, NM until we leave for another place
                                                        Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 4:08 PM (permalink)
                                                        JodyP

                                                        ... But the one thing that I have seen prevalent is that the HD’s like commercially built units a lot better than home made units. I am not saying that one is not capable of building a home made unit to rival a commercial unit; but I do know that most people are not capable of doing the fabrication required to make a home made unit the same as a commercial unit... Again I am not attacking anyone’s ability to build a mobile unit. I just have not really seen a home built unit look 100% like a commercial unit.

                                                        Interesting. We were (and still are) qualified to design, build and install a commercial kitchen, and have worked in multimillion dollar homes. Yet we aren't qualified to build a mobile food cart? Now that's funny. I don't want a cookie cutter, "one-size-fits-all" commercial cart. Not all commercially built carts will pass an inspection in all states either. What you have seen "prevalent" is only in your area(s). So far, our "homebuilt" cart is just fine with the various HD's we have encounters. I have looked at several "commercial" carts. They all involve buying equipment and installing them in a truck or trailer. How bleeding hard is that?
                                                         
                                                        #28
                                                          Foodbme

                                                          • Total Posts: 9579
                                                          • Joined: 9/1/2006
                                                          • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                                                          Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 4:20 PM (permalink)
                                                          lornaschinske


                                                          JodyP

                                                          ... But the one thing that I have seen prevalent is that the HD’s like commercially built units a lot better than home made units. I am not saying that one is not capable of building a home made unit to rival a commercial unit; but I do know that most people are not capable of doing the fabrication required to make a home made unit the same as a commercial unit... Again I am not attacking anyone’s ability to build a mobile unit. I just have not really seen a home built unit look 100% like a commercial unit.

                                                          Interesting. We were (and still are) qualified to design, build and install a commercial kitchen, and have worked in multimillion dollar homes. Yet we aren't qualified to build a mobile food cart? Now that's funny. I don't want a cookie cutter, "one-size-fits-all" commercial cart. Not all commercially built carts will pass an inspection in all states either. What you have seen "prevalent" is only in your area(s). So far, our "homebuilt" cart is just fine with the various HD's we have encounters. I have looked at several "commercial" carts. They all involve buying equipment and installing them in a truck or trailer. How bleeding hard is that?

                                                          What you say is true however you are the exception rather than the rule. You have experience and skills not found in most home cart builders.
                                                           
                                                          #29
                                                            FriedTater

                                                            • Total Posts: 414
                                                            • Joined: 6/21/2008
                                                            • Location: Badlands of New Mexico
                                                            Re:Cooking for food truck, should I use a commissary or cook on the truck? Thu, 09/29/11 6:33 PM (permalink)
                                                            Get you a bus ticket for Socorro New Mexico and go see Lornas rig. She`d probably make you a good bar-b-q sandwich or bowl of chili for your troubles. I`ve seen their rig, I`d eat off their tires.
                                                             
                                                            #30
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