If you want to open a food truck business, one of the key elements to its success is how carefully your mobile kitchen equipment is laid out in the truck. You need maximum efficiency in what is often a minimum amount of space, and you don't want to bolt down any food equipment until you are certain of where it should go. Read on to learn five tips for laying out your truck so it runs as smoothly and safely as possible.
Start with Your Menu
The first place to start before purchasing any food equipment is your desired menu. While you may have a large variety of items in mind, you may find you need to narrow it down a bit as having a wok, a griddle, a fryer, an ice cream freezer, a popcorn machine, and a deli counter is just too much for the size of your truck.
With this reality in mind, purchase the equipment you need for your truck. Don't forget about practicalities like prep counters, a fold-down serving counter, refrigeration, and storage for your serving trays and bulk goods.
Know Your Truck in Detail
A key part of purchasing the correct equipment is knowing your truck in intimate detail--unless you plan to get the truck after you buy your gear. Know the exact measurements of the truck's interior, where the propane (if necessary) can be piped in, and where the electrical outlets are. Shop with blueprints in hand, or take measurements and photographs to help you.
Do a Mock Food Prep Drill
Next, run through a mock food prep day on your truck. Think of all the items you might be asked to make, and determine if your menu plan is still feasible. Make sure you have enough people to get your serving done expediently, but not so many you're bumping into each other trying to work.
Think about where your serving window is as that's where you will have to keep returning to time and again. Also, consider locating foods that don't require much preparation, like cold sandwiches and drinks, close to the customer window. Once you have done your drill, draw out a preliminary layout for your food equipment and other items.
Think About Other Logistics
Take some time to think about other logistics related to your food cart too. Some important items include:
- money/cash register
- hand washing, dish washing, and food washing (you should have separate sinks for these)
- range hoods/exhaust
- isolation of messy and potentially dangerous areas, like fryers
- vertical space usage, for example, hanging toppings for hamburgers and hot dogs on the wall above the griddle
- the balance of your truck weight
Consult the Pros
Before you put a single bolt in your truck to fasten anything down, be sure to know your local health code and that your prep process is adhering to it. Also, know that your truck will be subject to your city's and province's fire safety and electrical code laws, and you don't want to fall afoul of them.
It's best to run your preliminary plans by your government to ensure they are correct before making anything in the truck permanent. While you're at your government offices, make sure you have the required business license as well as parking and vending permits.
If you've never put together a food truck before, you should probably call in a professional service that assists with this process. They can make sure your equipment is attached safely and that every item is hooked up properly.
Opening a new food truck is fun and exciting. Take the time to do it properly from the start, and you'll be at an advantage when it comes to staying in business for the long haul.