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 What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck?

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VenusPaw

  • Total Posts: 36
  • Joined: 11/28/2010
  • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Sun, 01/9/11 11:39 AM (permalink)
In my perfect scenario I would like to spend winters in ski resort areas and summers in coastal Oregon towns, both with populations of 10,000ish people. I'm thinking of specializing in donuts, leige waffles, and perhaps soups. I have no desire to be rich nor reinvent the wheel, just to be able to make a living in surroundings we dream of. Do you feel these areas could sustain my idea? I ask because my wife and I aren't ones to be tied down and would like to explore the western U.S. and be able to leave an area on a whim if so desired. She is an RN so her job opportunities are plentiful while I'm new to, but excited to be in, the food biz and feel a food truck would best allow us the freedom we seek.
Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions.
 
#1
    porkchopexpress

    • Total Posts: 798
    • Joined: 9/29/2006
    • Location: White House, TN
    Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Sun, 01/9/11 12:02 PM (permalink)
    I don't think there is a right or wrong population number. I've heard of food trucks doing well in small towns where there wasn't any restaurants around and seen some fail because there was to much competition  in the larger towns. Either way Good luck and live the dream
     
    #2
      BillyB

      • Total Posts: 2851
      • Joined: 2/4/2009
      Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Sun, 01/9/11 1:10 PM (permalink)

      Hey VP, The towns on the coast of Oregon are small with Hwy 101 going right through most of them. I would look at the Food truck restrictions. Portland is Food truck friendly but I'm not sure about the coast. The Coast has a lot of traffic during the summer months, I think some good quality unique food   ideas would be well received. ...Take cafe Bill                                                                                                                           

       
      #3
        Rubok

        • Total Posts: 95
        • Joined: 7/5/2009
        • Location: Portland, OR
        Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Sun, 01/9/11 1:16 PM (permalink)
        Coastal Oregon towns, or even coastal Oregon countys are not very welcoming to food trucks/carts.
         
        #4
          TrentonDog

          • Total Posts: 736
          • Joined: 5/26/2009
          • Location: Trenton Area, NJ
          Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Sun, 01/9/11 1:37 PM (permalink)
          VenusPaw


          In my perfect scenario I would like to spend winters in ski resort areas and summers in coastal Oregon towns, both with populations of 10,000ish people. I'm thinking of specializing in donuts, leige waffles, and perhaps soups......


          Hi! - While a food vending truck allows you freedom of movement, you'll need to look into the rules and regulation of every town you plan on doing business in. It could be a lot of headaches trying to comply with everyone's wishes. I think the biggest obstacle would be if they required commisary facilities since it seems like you will be nomadic. (A commissary is the "home base" for you to park, clean, restock your truck and prepare food - usually a commercial kitchen inspected by the local health department)
           
          Then there's the problem of where to park your rig. You probably won't be able to just park it anywhere and serve food. For example, you might need a written agreement with a commercial property owner to sell out of their parking lot.
           
           
           
          #5
            lornaschinske

            • Total Posts: 1610
            • Joined: 3/4/2009
            • Location: Roswell, NM until we leave for another place
            Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Sun, 01/9/11 8:10 PM (permalink)
            We are in a small town with a big Tech school (NM School of Mining) with a population that is supposed to be 10K (we don't think it is). I would suggest a town a little bigger... about 15K or a little more... unless they are a lot more affluent (and wiling to spend it) than they are here! We actually did worse in Corpus Christi! But the population there is not into food vendors... it wasn't just us.
             
            #6
              Foodbme

              • Total Posts: 9579
              • Joined: 9/1/2006
              • Location: Gilbert, AZ
              Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Mon, 01/10/11 1:49 AM (permalink)
              There are many other factors that you need to consider other than just town size Like a good location, HD Regulations, Competition, City ordinances, etc. We do not live in a free commerce society.
              If you want to be nomadic, consider going on a regional Carnival, County Fair, Weekend Festival Circuit.
               
              #7
                CCinNJ

                • Total Posts: 7762
                • Joined: 7/24/2008
                • Location: Bayonne, NJ
                Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Mon, 01/10/11 2:25 AM (permalink)
                Before you consider population to support business I would look at the menu. All three items have the potential to be popular...but they also have several working factors through the prep  hold  and service phase that may present some issues...if your menu will be fresh hot fast and delicious. When you say "specialize" do you mean  made from scratch?
                 
                Soup is easy for fast service. However to get to the point of service you have to make it through the process of long prep (where and how) and holding  is not always a trip through the park.
                 
                Donuts can be prep fry dip coat sprinkle etc. (where & when).  Waffles are only a few minutes to make but try to do this that and the other when the leige are doing their  thing or get backed up on the waffle orders and it can get a little crazy.  
                 
                How many extra sets of hands will be with you?
                 
                It's one thing to be a soup truck a donut truck or a waffle truck. It is something else to be a soup - waffle - donut truck.
                <message edited by CCinNJ on Mon, 01/10/11 2:39 AM>
                 
                #8
                  MobileCuisine

                  • Total Posts: 63
                  • Joined: 1/4/2011
                  • Location: BERWYN, IL
                  Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Mon, 01/10/11 1:06 PM (permalink)
                  If you want to find the right spot, you should research foot traffic in the communities you are looking at. Without people on the streets, you are going to have a tougher time getting folks to your truck.
                   
                  Sure there is Twitter to attract people, but at the same time, if you are in an area where people aren't outside, you may be in a tough spot.
                   
                  -MC
                   
                  #9
                    VenusPaw

                    • Total Posts: 36
                    • Joined: 11/28/2010
                    • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
                    Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Mon, 01/10/11 3:38 PM (permalink)
                      Porkchop and Billy, thanks for the kind words and inspiration. Though sobering in some instances, thanks to some of you for your frankness when addressing the regulations I'll be facing. I know there will be lots of regs to learn from municipality to municipality, I simply didn't address those issues initially because I wondered if my population question might render further exploration moot. But who am I fooling? Like many of you, I'm an entrepreneur and I'll find a way to make it work.
                      CC, I would do all of these items from scratch, though my menu choices are purely speculative at this point. I consider myself a donut snob and I'm pretty solid (right now) on them being the core item. I'm talking unique donut flavors, not run of the mill basics (not that there's anything wrong with them), i.e. VooDoo Doughnut in Portland and the Doughnut Plant in NYC. And having been recently turned on to them myself, I never see leige waffles anywhere, which is criminal, and thought they might be easy to do alongside the donuts. I'm not married to the soup idea, I'm just thinking a nice chowder would be welcome in a ski resort area or a chilly day at the beach and would be easy to scoop and serve. Which allows me to answer your question that initially, or perhaps forever, I will be a one-man operation so I'm trying to devise a menu/concept that will make that possible. As much as I'd like to do grill/fried items I assume that would be too ambitious as a solo act.
                      I really appreciate everyone's input. One of these days, I hope to inspire other newbies as you guys have done for me.
                     
                    #10
                      CCinNJ

                      • Total Posts: 7762
                      • Joined: 7/24/2008
                      • Location: Bayonne, NJ
                      Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Mon, 01/10/11 6:33 PM (permalink)
                      If you are a snob about anything...donuts are not a terrible  item  to be a little snooty about!!
                       
                      There is a waffle truck in NYC...
                      http://www.wafelsanddinges.com/
                       
                      and I know a few soup carts are around...
                       
                      http://newyorkstreetfood.com/tag/herb-intl-soup-cart/
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                      #11
                        Foodbme

                        • Total Posts: 9579
                        • Joined: 9/1/2006
                        • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                        Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Fri, 09/23/11 5:04 AM (permalink)
                        Ski Resort towns don't like food trucks & Carts. It screws up the ambiance and competes with established Hotels & Restaurants that are a large chunk of the town's tax revenues.
                         
                        #12
                          VenusPaw

                          • Total Posts: 36
                          • Joined: 11/28/2010
                          • Location: Livin' the dream in Durango, CO
                          Re:What size town (population) is needed to support a food truck? Fri, 09/23/11 12:18 PM (permalink)
                          Your info is absolutely false concerning the mountain resort community we just moved to, which is in a neighboring state to yours. The mobile food biz has only recently sprung up here, per the local city government and health departments. Btw, since my ideas are "pie in the sky", I'd prefer you didn't respond to them, Foodbme.
                          <message edited by VenusPaw on Fri, 09/23/11 1:01 PM>
                           
                          #13
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