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The Best Cities in America to Start a Food Truck

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So many chefs have had the idea of starting a food truck business at some point. While we stress that it is far from easy, there are some cities in America we’ve selected as being the best for food truck startups for various reasons.

Atlanta
Just a few years ago Atlanta food trucks weren’t really on the map. Food trucks have become such a popular choice for Atlanta chefs that it is difficult to find a used food truck for sale anywhere nearby. Expect to see a lot more new food truck brands in the next year or so but if you’re open to traveling out of state to buy your food truck you can get in before the rush and establish yourself early.

San Francisco
Even more of a challenge is finding a food truck for rent or a food truck for sale in San Francisco. The industry is well-developed and San Fran food truck patrons are loyal to their favorite brands. It can be a tricky city to start a food truck with the lack of used trucks and permitting rules, but if your food truck wins the heart of the people you will have it forever.

Portland
If you want to start a crazy comfort food truck with an artistic flair, you’ve come to the right place. One thing you can usually count on with Portland trucks is great food that is likely also organic and sustainable. If that’s your thing you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Speaking of which, Portland is also one of the friendliest cities to register a food truck. They even offer rush service for a nominal fee if you’re eager to get started.

Seattle
Another city that has expanded the food truck scene lately is Seattle. It’s no wonder that a city known for an outdoor market would be a great place to find food truck fare. Since new legislation was introduced in 2011, the process for starting a food truck business has been streamlined to encourage street vendors to set up shop. New food truck festivals pop up every year, including the recent Food Trucks For A Cause, which supports world hunger initiatives.

New York City

Despite having an extremely difficult permitting process (think taxi medallions), New York’s food trucks serve some of the best street food in the country and New Yorkers have embraced food trucks in recent years. These days nearly every cuisine is represented by NYC food trucks and you can sample the world on foot and without a reservation. It’s also one of the most popular cities for corporate food truck promotions.

Austin
This city was born to be a food truck hotspot. With a great music and art scene, good climate and an appreciation for both good barbecue and fine dining, the stars aligned for gourmet food trucks. SXSW is one of the best ways for new trucks to introduce themselves to the scene and many startup food trucks in the city rush to get up and running in time for their music festival debut.

Los Angeles
Where it all began. Not only did the City of Angels invent the gourmet food truck trend, it’s also home to more food trucks than any other city in America. Some of the most well-known food truck brands started here, including Kogi, Baby’s Badass Burgers and the Lobsta Truck. Even though there are a lot of trucks already on the streets there is a lot of love for street food in LA. Summer festivals like Abbot Kinney’s First Friday’s and Street Food Cinema attract record crowds. It’s even possible to lease a truck and get your own business started in a matter of weeks.

8 Things to Consider When You Lease or Rent Your Food Truck

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If you’re not ready to get rid of your food truck but are no longer running your business, you’ll likely be considering renting your truck. Whether you are renting your truck for short or long term periods, there are quite a few things to think about:

1. Maintenance Schedule

It is typically the responsibility of the truck owner to handle the regular maintenance of the truck. Prior to renting we strongly suggest you work out a plan for the upkeep of the truck and where the work will be done. If you are drafting a lease agreement, be sure to separate the responsibility of the repairs due to wear and tear (i.e. oil changes) vs. damage caused by the lessee.

2. Insurance

It is up to you if you want to include the insurance on the food truck you are leasing. Renters often provide basic auto insurance and leave it to the lessee to obtain supplementary insurance if they wish to do so. Be sure to clearly define what you will and will not offer in the lease agreement.

3. Security Deposits

Even if insurance will cover any major damage to the truck, a security deposit can come in handy. It can be used to cover any unpaid traffic or parking violations, unpaid claim deductibles, or small repairs that may not warrant an insurance claim. It also helps to ensure renters take good care of your truck.

4. Mileage Limits

Including limits for mileage in your lease agreement helps ensure the truck will be kept local. Due to the weight of the kitchen, food trucks don’t usually do well with long haul travel. It’s up to you if you want to make exceptions for lessees who want to attend festivals and events out of town. If it is more than 50 miles we recommend shipping the truck via flatbed.

5. Alterations / Modifications

In most cases your renter will have chosen your truck because it has all the equipment he/she requires to operate. If you agree to allow modifications to the interior of the truck, be sure to check with your local health department. Changing the equipment may cause your current permits to be voided. Exterior modifications, like the installation of a graphic wrap, do not affect the permits of the truck but they can cause underlying paint damage. It’s a good idea to get a small deposit for paint touch-up if a wrap is to be installed. You can refund the money if the truck is returned with no external damage.

6. Licensingfoodtrucklawimage

Every city, county, and state have their own rules for licensing food truck businesses. Typically both a business license and a food truck-specific permit are required to operate. As the county operating permit is usually linked to the truck, truck owners usually take care of permits for the main county where the truck is used. Additional permits (for nearby counties or special zones) are left to the renter to secure.

7. Commissary / Parking

Some counties require that food trucks be registered with a licensed commissary. It’s a good idea to use a commissary even if it is not required by law. Commissaries are usually secured parking areas, you’ll have access to proper cleaning facilities and you typically have easy access to propane and ice to restock. This type of parking does have a cost and it may be one that your renter tries to avoid. It’s a good idea to discuss what you require for truck storage when it is not in use.

8. Lease Agreements

We always recommend you have any renter sign an agreement so that both parties can be protected and have a clear understanding of what is expected. If you’re serious about renting or leasing your food truck you can purchase a sample food truck lease and checklist for $99. This package is specific to the food truck industry and includes options for all the above categories.

If you’re looking for a place to list your truck for rent, check out foodtruckrental.com

For personal legal counsel and legal help relating to your food truck business, we recommend Hiller Counsel

America’s Top 10 Most Interesting Food Trucks (and then some) of 2014

While we don’t know exactly which country invented the concept of a mobile food cart or truck, we can definitely agree that the modern gourmet food truck was an American invention!  America’s best food trucks are the unusual and crazy ones that make themselves a monument of the town they serve in. It’s Independence Day on Friday and what better time than the week of America’s birthday to celebrate the top 10 most interesting food trucks that makes the U.S. the leading nation of this culinary phenomenon.

10. Good Humor Ice Cream Truck

most interesting food trucks #10Established in 1920, the Good Humor Ice Cream Truck drove its way through suburban America and street food history.  Equipped with the world’s first ice cream bar on a stick and original all white uniforms, Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks are still ringing their signature bell that makes everyone scream for ice cream.

 

9. Nu Natural Beauty

nunaturalA food truck dressed as a quaint purple dream home, Nu Natural Beauty brings natural skincare, bath, and beauty products on the road in Orlando, Florida.  The first of its kind, the products this darling, dollhouse-looking mobile boutique sell are handmade, but not at the expense of the customers wallet.

 

 

 

 

 

8. Fashion Trucks

most interesting food trucks #08They may not serve food, but the innovation of the fashion truck landed them on our list! In particular, Blvd Love, one of Los Angeles’ earliest fashion trucks, converted an old short bus into a fully functioning mobile boutique.  While this fashion truck has since retired, others have followed in its footsteps, sparking America’s newest shopping trend.

 

 

 

 

7.  Company 77’s Pizzetta & Pizza Trolley

most interesting food trucks #07.1Tied for seventh place are two inimitable pizza serving food trucks. Pizzetta caters organic, vegan, and/or gluten free pizza to parties of 30-300 in an eco-friendly refurbished fire truck.  Outfitted with a photo booth, a sound system, a TV to watch the chef cook, water canons for a hot day, on-board beer taps, and much more, Pizzetta is the ultimate party food truck of Southern California.

 

 

most interesting food trucks #07.2While Pizzetta’s modern features are distinctly unique, the Pizza Trolley’s charming authenticity couldn’t be forgotten on this list.  Reminiscent of San Francisco’s old-world transportation, the Pizza Trolley in Florida dishes up a wide assortment of pizza, from the classic Margherita to the unusual Nutella and Mascarpone dessert pizza.

 

 

 

6.  Roving Mammoth

most interesting food trucks #06This food truck isn’t so much a truck as it is a snow mobile!  The one-of-a-kind Roving Mammoth is a snow cat that delivers hand warmers you can eat to the slopes of Mammoth Mountain in California.  Parked in a different location everyday, skiers can conveniently purchase burritos and calzones without having to go all the way to the lodge.

 

 

5.  Maximus Minimus

most interesting food trucks #05Maximus Minimus is an attention-grabbing pig-shaped food truck in Seattle, Washington.  With an assortment of sandwiches, two signature sauces (Maximus and Minimus), slaw, and Seattle’s famous Beecher’s mac ‘n’ cheese, this pig is serving up plenty of good eats for the rainy city. Some pig, indeed!

 

 

 

4.  Space Shuttle Café

most interesting food trucks #04A food truck that’s out of this world, the Space Shuttle Café of Santa Barbara, California is a novelty that holds a lot of history.  This food truck wasn’t originally a truck at all, but instead a 1944 Douglas DC-3 airliner that was used during WWII.   Equipped with a full-service kitchen, this spacecraft is ready to serve astronauts and space fans alike with their favorite meal.

 

 

3. Windy City Game Theater Truck

most interesting food trucks #03Another pioneering spin on the food truck that we love is the gaming truck.  A 28ft trailer renovated to be the supreme video game hauler with consoles hooked up to eight 47” TVs and all of the best games, Chicago’s Windy City Game Theater Truck is every gamer’s dream.

 

 

 

 

2. Angry Friar

most interesting food trucks #02Originally a 1961 London Transport Routemaster, The Angry Friar dishes up a little bit of London for all of Denton, Texas in this mobile restaurant food truck, where the kitchen is on the bottom and seating is on the top.  With images of the Beatles on Abbey Road and serving fish and chips, this double-decker bus brings British street food and culture to America.

 

 

 

1. Tractor Trailer Food Truck

most interesting food trucks #01Our number one choice for the most interesting food truck in America is this tractor-trailer-food truck hybrid that can eat other food trucks for breakfast, lunch, dinner … and also the occasional late night snack.  Within the walls of this Transformers-looking mobile kitchen contains a full-size professional refrigerator, oven, and space for storage and extra staff.  This Los Angeles food truck is truly a chef’s dream kitchen on wheels.

 

 

 

Have your own unique food truck concept that you want to make happen? Send us a note and we will try and help!

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Update: Originally number nine was Lora’s Lasagna House, but we were informed that it had been transformed into Nu Natural Beauty.

What’s the best way to campaign for Emmy nominations? Themed Food Truck Promotions, of course!

House of cards food truck

Just ask Netflix. The company recently promoted their acclaimed show “House of Cards” for Emmy consideration with a free lunch from a gourmet food truck for any eligible voter. As a clever tie-in to the show, the truck masqueraded as Freddy’s BBQ, a fictional barbeque restaurant frequented by the character Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey. House of cards food truckThe House of Cards food truck was not only a great success it is also an example of food truck advertising done right.

While not the first show to use a food truck promotion (HBO’s “Dexter” once used an ice cream truck and Netflix also previously set up frozen banana stands to promote Arrested Development), this particular food truck went the extra mile to impress. “I appreciate your vote,” adorned the rented food truck, custom designed by food truck industry leaders, Roadstoves, along with menacing images of Underwood and his wife, played by Robin Wright. They didn’t skimp on the fare, either, offering ribs from the Rollin’ Rib BBQ food truck and were said to have even made the occasional home delivery to certain voters.

Most importantly, the promotional food truck, along with other marketing House of cards food truckefforts, resulted in nine nominations overall. “House of Cards” also made Emmy Award history, for being the first digitally distributed series to earn a major nomination. Not bad for a 10 day food truck rental and a little bit of marketing know-how.

But did Netflix’ campaigning go too far with their food truck promo stunt? The TV academy currently has no rules or limitations in place. And even if it did, it is probably best answered by Robin Wright’s character on the show, Claire Underwood, “my husband doesn’t apologize, not even to me.”

Be sure to catch The 65th Primetime Emmy® Awards this Sunday and see how they fare.

Update:
Congratulations to “House of Cards” and David Fincher for the Best Directing win at the Emmys!
“House of Cards” also won for Casting and Cinematography at the Creative Arts Emmys.

Featured Food Truck: Petaluma Poultry “Support Your Local Chicken”

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Petaluma Poultry Co is the latest company to take to the streets to promote their product with their “Support your local chicken” food truck campaign at the 39th Solano Ave Stroll event in San Francisco.

The one day event has been called the “oldest and largest street festival in the San Francisco bay area” and Petaluma was one of 50 official vendors as well as a key sponsor for the 2013 event. The Solano Stroll attracts thousands of guests from within California as well as surrounding states to a two mile stretch in Berkeley, California.

Their efforts were not in vain, as they served over 2000 people in a single afternoon from a well-branded, custom designed rented food truck. Offering their very own organic chicken sandwiches on King’s Hawaiian buns with original BBQ sauce and deep fried chicken wings with homemade dipping sauces, the campaign was short but effective.

In recent years the event has embraced gourmet food trucks, making the addition of the Petaluma promotional food truck seamless. Indeed, it was no small feat. Advertising on food trucks can be a time-consuming project with much to consider, including: cost of rental, permits, design fees and installation, training and staffing, catering and various legal concerns.

To maximize ROI, the 40 year old organic poultry company turned to Roadstoves, another company with decades of experience. Roadstoves provided the truck, graphics (design and installation), staff, and training for the Petaluma promo as they have done in the past for various corporate food truck promotions.

Congratulations to Petaluma on their successful food truck promotion!

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