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 Food Truck Build Newb advice needed

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  • Total Posts: 5
  • Joined: 1/31/2012
  • Location: toronto, XX
Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Tue, 01/31/12 4:34 PM (permalink)
Hi everyone. First off I'd like to say that this forum is an invaluable asset to anyone looking to start up a mobile food business. I have a few questions that I hope can be answered for me. I've searched the threads casually and haven't necessarily seen exactly these answers. If they have been answered at some point I do apologize. Here we go:
1) This is for people who have already done builds and are already in business: What do you wish you would have known before you started? This can include any piece of wisdom you think may be beneficial regarding any facet of the process.
2) I live in Toronto and I feel this is a somewhat unique situation. Toronto doesn't allow roaming trucks. You literally have t0 find a private lot and set up shop there so I'm interested to know what I need to take into account regarding generators, fuel and anything else for that matter as this truck will not be really driving around too much.
3) Lastly, I'm looking to find cost estimates for the entire mechanical buildout. That's to say everything but the actual equipment. I realize it's different for everyone so any response would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much and I look forward to reaping all the benefits of this great community.

    • Total Posts: 1955
    • Joined: 6/22/2009
    • Location: Near You, WA
    Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Tue, 01/31/12 8:10 PM (permalink)
    If you can't be mobile, I would think about a trailer.

      • Total Posts: 5
      • Joined: 1/31/2012
      • Location: toronto, XX
      Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Wed, 02/1/12 12:29 AM (permalink)
      Well I can be mobile in terms of going to special events and whatnot. But I suppose a trailer could be taken to the same events.

        • Total Posts: 1077
        • Joined: 1/30/2011
        • Location: FAYETTEVILLE, NC
        Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Thu, 02/2/12 8:49 PM (permalink)
        as far as money goes..... figure out what you will need to do the build....then double it !.......
        and have an emergency slush fund set up to cover the last minute things....
        there is some form of evil algebra going on..... 2+2 on paper will most likely =5.5 most of the time, lol....
        oohh....that goes for time as well, lol

          • Total Posts: 322
          • Joined: 1/15/2008
          • Location: Cumming, GA
          Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Tue, 02/7/12 10:44 AM (permalink)
          1)      Consider this business real hard. It is a tuff competitive business. You really need to know what your market is before you design your menu. You have to have a passion for the food industry. If you don’t have a decent location around bars and nightlife then you need to find a good location for breakfast and lunch. We have found out that it is hard to survive just on lunch trade. We did a couple of lunch locations and then dinner locations last year but it really makes for a long day.
          2)      Atlanta is the same about roaming food trucks. The city does allow up to five different locations per truck so it’s not so bad. However to operate legally you must have a base of operation. We use Honda generators when we do not have electric hookups. We operate out of a commercially built food trailer, when towing we get about 10 mpg.
          3)      Our suggestion would be to find a trailer already built out or purchase a new one built to what you want. In Atlanta commercially built trailers / trucks are a lot easier to permit then home built units. Not saying you can’t build one as good.

            • Total Posts: 5
            • Joined: 1/31/2012
            • Location: toronto, XX
            Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Tue, 02/7/12 4:36 PM (permalink)
            Well I've budgeted approximately 30k for the full build. And I feel Toronto is unique in that there is very minimal competition. There are 3 trucks in a city of 2+ million that don't sell fries and burgers. And I know the market quite well here and am extremely passionate about serving good food so that isn't an issue. What are the odds that 30k isn't enough?
              THE WILD DOG

              • Total Posts: 1465
              • Joined: 1/12/2010
              • Location: Hunt Valley, MD
              Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Tue, 02/7/12 5:20 PM (permalink)
              it depends on how you spend your money. No one can really predict what you will spend, but if you are smart about it, you will do alot yourself, shop auctions for used equipment and what not.  It's all about doing the best with what you got. I fabricate all my trucks myself and shop vigoriously for stuff.

                • Total Posts: 5
                • Joined: 1/31/2012
                • Location: toronto, XX
                Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Tue, 02/7/12 6:29 PM (permalink)
                well there are cafe's going out of business everyday here so I should be able to get all the equipment at pretty steep discounts. However I have no skills whatsoever regarding that actual fabrication of the truck. I've been quoted approximately 3k for all installations and fabrications.

                  • Total Posts: 177
                  • Joined: 11/28/2011
                  • Location: HAWLEY, PA
                  Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Fri, 02/10/12 5:49 PM (permalink)
                  i just started my truck. before i decided to do it myself i got lots of quotes for different things.
                  one quote i got was for 5ft hood w/ fire supprestion system installed and to line the inside of the truck w/ ss panels.
                  7500.00. well i got the sheets and the hood by myself all the trim duct work , fan so far without labor 2700.00
                  if you can find a guy that can fabricate, do pluming, and electical like i did it will cut your costs in half.
                  ask him if he will do it for 2500.00. i know a little bit about what i am doing i sell resturant equipment for a living.
                  hope this helps. i want all new equipment for my truck. good luck to you
                    THE WILD DOG

                    • Total Posts: 1465
                    • Joined: 1/12/2010
                    • Location: Hunt Valley, MD
                    Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Fri, 02/10/12 8:48 PM (permalink)
                    I was a SUIT banker for 10 years before getting into this biz, I was always handy with my hands and stuff and one beyond valuable tool I will pass along to you, is if you don't know how to do it search it on YOUTUBE... I learned so much from that it was basically my text book. I sat on the edge of my truck watching stuff before doing it and going back and forth to it as I went along.  You can do it trust me, It may take some time but the $ you save will be worth it.

                      • Total Posts: 18
                      • Joined: 2/12/2012
                      • Location: Salem, OR
                      Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Sun, 02/12/12 10:55 PM (permalink)
                      1. talk to your health department
                      2. talk to your insurance agent
                      3. buy used.  a quick look on toronto craigslist shows several truck/trailer resources.
                      up north of us in Portland there are somee 600 trucks/trailers.  Every combo you can imagine, people are making it work. 
                      Consider Single point of failure: If you have a truck, no engine, no income.    With a trailer,  you can always get it towed if your truck breaks down.
                      be prepared to work long hard hours.
                      have fun.

                        • Total Posts: 117
                        • Joined: 10/12/2011
                        • Location: SLC, UT
                        Re:Food Truck Build Newb advice needed Wed, 02/15/12 3:57 PM (permalink)
                        I was in the same position with OP questions just a short time ago. Building a truck (or trailer) is quite the undertaking! Think of it as your first "custom vehicle" build. I find enjoyment in mechanics/construction, otherwise I might have opted to buy a used, complete running unit.
                        I think $30k is a reasonable starting point for an estimate IF you exercise extreme frugality. That means being a regular browser of your local, and regional classifieds, knowing the value of every piece of hardware, material, and equipment you'll need. This forum has lots of resources that will help keep you from going down the wrong path. That said, there are a number of ways to skin the proverbial cat. Being on a limited budge, you will need to be creative and resourceful in the way you approach each goal.
                        Start a good estimate with all your projected costs, and labor (I did this in Excel). Now, triple your labor! Monetary estimates are much easier to create than labor estimates. This is coming from someone who is (very) familiar with large project estimating.
                        Have fun!
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