6 Tips to Make Your Food Truck More Successful this Winter

You may have mastered operating your food truck during warmer seasons, but is your business prepared for the colder months? While customers have no problem waiting in line for your tasty culinary creations when the weather is warm and enjoyable, you may begin to notice a slow decline in guests as temperatures begin to drop. Luckily for you, we’ve got the information you need to successfully run your food truck in the winter.

Food Truck

Getting Started

Before you begin to implement the tips below, it’s important to take a step back and analyze your truck and your local area:

What Are Your Strengths?

Whether you bake the best cupcakes in town or have exceptional customer service, it’s important to recognize what makes your food truck unique. Finding out what makes your truck special is the key to figuring out what your winter strategy will be.

How Are Other Food Trucks in Your Area Preparing?

One of the best things about the food truck industry is the strong sense of community among owners. Talk to your fellow truckers to find out what they plan on doing in the winter months. This could provide you with additional ideas and inspiration as to what decisions your business should make.

Talk to Your Guests

Since your guests are the ones waiting in line for your food, talk to them and find out what you could offer that would make braving the freezing temperatures worth the wait. This can be done simply by having a conversation with your regulars or by sending out a survey via email or paper and offering an incentive for completing it.

6 Tips to Preparing for the Winter

1. Look Out for Your Employees

Your customers aren't going to be the only ones exposed to the winter elements. Employees make a lasting impression on new and returning guests, so it’s necessary that they’re comfortable and happy during these colder times. While your employees may be feeling the warmth from different appliances inside your truck, they're still going to feel the chill from the winter air. Consider outfitting your crew with some branded winter gear like coats and hats, or ask them for their suggestions on other ways to keep the truck warm and comfortable to work in.

2. Consider Catering


One way that people can still have your delicious burritos, burgers, and other food items is by using your food truck at catered events. From weddings and holiday parties to school dances and birthdays, there are many opportunities for your business to serve up your signature food items. Since there are a few differences between running your food truck and a catering company, it’s important to research what additional skills you and your employees will need to learn before offering these services.

3. Take Your Truck to Local Events

While events in the winter months aren’t as plentiful as they are in the summer and spring, that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Local gatherings like winter carnivals, tree lightings, and holiday showcases can be valuable business opportunities as they generally draw in hungry and thirsty crowds who who are looking for something to eat on-site. You should also find out if neighboring towns and cities host monthly events like “First” or “Fourth Fridays”, since this will also bring in large groups of people despite the cold temperatures.

4. Partner with Local Businesses

One way you can boost the number of customers at your food truck is to team up with a local bar or restaurant and sell to their customers. For example food trucks that offer savory items like tacos and barbecue are a perfect fit for bars that don't serve food. Trucks that serve sweeter options like cupcakes and crepes should look for restaurants and cafes that don't have any dessert options on their menu. However, you should learn the local laws in your area before partnering with another business because there could be restrictions.

5. Add Seasonal Options

The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean your guests shouldn’t be feeling delightful. Offering customers seasonal dishes like Thanksgiving-dinner-themed burritos and crepes or warm peppermint drinks will lure guests to your truck. Some trucks have even found it beneficial to sell items like mittens and gloves at a low price for guests to stay cozy while they chow down.

6. Find a Regular Stop

Food Truck Group

When your truck isn’t traveling from one event to the other, you should have a go-to stationary spot to sell your goods. This will save you time trying to find a new daily spot and will give you a more consistent routine that will provide your business with a steady stream of sales. Try talking to local businesses to find out if they’d be willing to let you park your truck in their lot at lunch time. If they're interested, offer some incentives like a free soda with meal or discounted menu items for their employees.

Instead of closing your truck or falling into a slow period during the colder months, try using some of our tips so your business can stay steady all year long. Also. don't forget to stock up on all your food truck supplies like serving utensils and paper food trays!

Posted in: Food Trucks | By Emily Hepner

It's Time to Winterize Your Outdoor Patio Space

As temperatures begin to drop to the 50s and below, it is time to start thinking about closing your outdoor patio space for the colder months. This can be overwhelming even if you’ve done it many times in the past, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things to remember when winterizing your patio space.

1. Get Your Grill to a Safe Space

If you’ve invested in an outdoor grill for summer barbecuing, make sure it lasts you for many seasons to come by cleaning and storing it for the winter. First, check that there aren’t any problems with the grill that need immediate attention, such as fuel line cracks, potential gas leaks, or rusted parts. Next, deep clean your grill by scrubbing the grates, burners, burner protectors, bottom tray, and body of the grill. If you have room, it’s best to store your grill indoors, but if that is not possible, a durable grill cover will work to keep it safe from the elements. Also, it is important to remember to leave the fuel tank outdoors and covered to prevent potential hazards.

The end of grilling season can bring on the cold-weather blues for some customers, so be sure to check out how you can get the smoky flavor of summer without using your grill.

2. Clean and Protect Your Furniture

Your patio furniture has given customers a place to relax all summer, and while that’s great for business, it can cause serious wear and tear. Fortunately, the winter season is the perfect time to evaluate your outdoor furniture and see what you need to replace or repair. If you use metal tables and chairs, be sure to check for rust and paint scratches after you clean them. Small rust spots can be scraped and painted over, but if a piece has large rusty patches, consider replacing it.

Fabric furniture can become moldy if it is not properly cleaned for the winter. To prevent this, try vacuuming each cushion and umbrella, and then cover them for storage in a dry area. Plastic furniture can simply be washed with soap and water and stored indoors, while wicker and wood furniture should be treated with oil before storing.

3. Keep Pests at Bay

Your customers aren’t the only ones who will seek the warm solace of your indoor dining area this winter. During the colder months, rodents and insects will be looking for every opportunity to get out of the freezing temperatures and into your restaurant. To prevent this, be sure to close and seal the server door to your patio, and make sure that any outdoor vents are properly covered with mesh. Also consider trimming plants and shrubbery around the patio, as small animals love to burrow in the shelter of bushes and flowerbeds.

4. Power-Wash Your Patio

After all of your furniture and cooking equipment is cleaned and put away, you can wash away all of the summer grime from your patio floor with a power-washer or hose. This step will make it easier to clean again once it’s time to put the furniture back out for the spring season. Don’t forget to clear any leaves or debris from your patio’s surface whenever possible, as they can stain certain patio materials when wet from the rain and snow. After you’re finished, be sure to clear the hose of any water and turn off the outdoor tap to help keep pipes from bursting. This is also a good time to cover any exposed pipes in your building with foam insulator for the winter.

5. Consider Staying Open

If you’re lucky enough to own a restaurant or bar in warmer parts of the country, you have the option to keep your outdoor patio space open into the fall, and in some climates, through the entire winter. If you wish to remain open, you should still take a day or two to deep clean your patio using the tips listed above. You should also consider placing a few patio heaters around your outdoor space to ensure that customers stay comfortable when the sun goes down.

An outdoor patio makes for a unique atmosphere that customers enjoy, so get the most out of this space by properly preparing it for the winter months. By doing a little extra cleaning and preparing in the fall, you can save yourself a lot of hassle come springtime.

Posted in: Furniture | By Sabrina Bomberger

Should Your Restaurant Stay Open on Thanksgiving?

Keeping your restaurant open on a holiday can be a tough decision – especially on one that revolves around food. Restaurant owners are torn between making profit and giving their employees the day off to spend with family and friends. While the decision to stay open or not ultimately lies with you, here are some facts and tips that might help make that decision a little easier.

Serve That Turkey!


You may not expect it, but Thanksgiving can actually be a day for your restaurant to gobble up profit. Trust us, it’s not that crazy. In fact, many chains like IHOP, Denny’s, Boston Market, and Cracker Barrel set their tables for strangers looking for a good turkey meal. You’ll also find that many upscale establishments will offer a gourmet spin on some of your favorite Thanksgiving sides.

By staying open, your restaurant will become a space for people that don’t make set plans every year for the holiday. Many individuals don’t have a huge family gathering to attend or simply don’t have the space to host a crowd. It’s also important to realize that keeping your restaurant open on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with your own family and friends. Consider staying open for only a few hours in the afternoon, so you can be home in time for your own family’s meal. If you’re staying open this Thanksgiving, then consider some of the following tips:

  • Offer a preset or limited menu.
  • Serve an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Charge a flat-rate per person.
  • Encourage customers to make reservations.
  • Make all the traditional sides.
  • Sell Thanksgiving entrees and sides for customers to take home and serve.
  • Sell pies and desserts for take-out.
  • Advertise your holiday hours in advance, since many people won't automatically assume you’ll be open.

Close the Doors

Sorry We're Closed

If you operate a more traditional business and believe your employees should spend the day feasting with their families and friends, then go ahead and shut your doors on Thanksgiving Day. If you’re worried about losing profit or business, you can relax because there’s plenty of opportunity to make up for those losses on the days before and after Thanksgiving. Plus, a majority of chain and local restaurants do shut down for major holidays, so you won’t be the only one.

Closing also means you won’t have to worry about disgruntled employees, developing a special menu, or purchasing uncommon ingredients for your kitchen. Also, having the day off gives your staff plenty of time to recoup for the Black Friday rush. If you’re closing this Thanksgiving, then consider some of the following tips:

  • Make and sell homemade pies and desserts.
  • Open earlier and stay open later on Black Friday.
  • Extend hours the day before since many people don’t want to cook two nights in a row.
  • Keep your bar open late for blackout Wednesday to make up for lack of business on Thanksgiving.
  • Offer deals on appetizers and drinks the week of Thanksgiving.

The decision to close your restaurant or stay open this Thanksgiving is all up to you. While both sides have their own benefits, the choice depends on your personal perspective and your clientele. Whether you’ll be scooping mashed potatoes to customers or carving turkey for your family, we hope you enjoy the holiday!

Posted in: Holidays | By Ashley Kufera

Dirty Fridge? Get it Cleaned and Organized In No Time

Do you have ancient containers of ranch dressing or open cans of chickpeas taking up shelf space in your walk-in cooler? Have you been taking bets on exactly what piece of mystery meat is wrapped up in paper in the freezer? Has that box of tomatoes hiding in the back of the fridge gone a little too far out of season?

Who says you have to wait until spring to do some serious cleaning in your kitchen? (Actually, your local health inspector will never tell you that unless you want to rack up some serious health code violations.) National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day officially takes place on November 15.

With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to take a hard look at the contents in and the cleanliness of your refrigerator and freezer units. By taking a proactive position on sanitizing and purging your refrigeration, you can create additional food storage space and make sure you’re using the freshest ingredients possible in your dishes. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to ensure that your refrigerators and freezers are as clean as the day you installed them.

The Steps

1. Unplug Your Refrigeration Units

To eliminate the possibility of electrocution, the first thing you should do is unplug your refrigerator or freezer. It’s a quick and easy step, but it’s also vitally important to preventing work-related injuries.

2. Empty Each Shelf of All Items

When we say all items, we mean all items. Don’t leave anything sitting inside your refrigerator or freezer. If you have food you know for sure you want to save, move it to another container. Or, if your other refrigeration units are already maxed out to capacity, consider adding a undercounter refrigerator or worktop freezer to your array of kitchen appliances. You can also utilize coolers for temporary storage.

3. Throw Away All Expired and Moldy Food

Perishables can easily get lost in the mix by being pushed to the back or concealed behind other items in a large refrigerator. Don’t save anything you suspect of being spoiled – it’s not worth the risk of making a customer sick. Already-opened cans and jars are other offenders to consider throwing in the trash (unless they’ve been properly labeled with the date and time of their opening). Live by the mantra, “When in doubt, throw it out.” Any other food or ingredients you haven’t used for months (nor have plans on using for months) should also be tossed into a trash can or a recycling bin.

4. Completely Wipe Down the Interior of the Refrigerator or Freezer

Get a bucket with warm, soapy water, and prepare to do battle with built-up grime. Highly-absorbent microfiber cloths and mitts are perfect for scrubbing down every inch inside your fridge and removing messes that have accumulated since the last cleaning. For stubborn stains and crud, a simple toothbrush can do the trick of removing collected dirt. Make sure to rinse off all the gentle soap.

5. Disinfect with a Sanitizer

Bacteria and mold can accumulate in a fridge over time, so it’s important to disinfect surfaces with a sanitizer. Be sure to use a food-safe sanitizer, as you’ll eventually be placing items back into the refrigeration units. Since you’ve already washed inside, you don’t have to go overboard with sanitizing. A little goes a long way.

6. Vacuum the Condenser and Coils

Dust and debris saps the power being generated in your refrigeration unit's condenser and refrigeration coils by clogging air intake. Cleaning away the dust is an extremely simple solution for decreasing your kitchen’s energy costs and increasing efficiency of fridges and freezers. Start by removing the protective grill (found either on the top or bottom of your unit). Brush the coils and the fan unit to free up dirt and dust. Use a vacuum to suck up all the debris, and reinstall the grill. If you need a visual presentation, here’s a video on how to clean your condenser and the video above on how to properly clean the refrigeration coils.

7. Clean Under and On Top of the Refrigerator or Freezer

Keeping the area around your refrigeration units clean can be just as important as cleaning the units themselves. Thoroughly mop the floor under and around the fridge or freezer. If your units are movable, be sure to pull them away from the wall. Don’t forget to dust the top of the unit, as well.

8. Restock Shelves the Proper Way

Once your refrigeration units are completely clean, it’s time to plug them back in and place food on the shelves. Labeling opened products and leftovers allows you to track their freshness by writing dates and times of their use. Color-coded bins also help to create a visual display for better organization of different ingredients. Coordinate food so that everything is easily visible when the fridge door is opened, and move older items to the front so they can be used first. Make sure you’re using proper food placement procedures when restocking, including keeping fruits and vegetables above raw meats to limit the possibility of cross-contamination. For an easy visual guide, check out the graphic below:

Now that your refrigerators and freezers are clean and organized, you can start to see the benefits of keeping tidy units by limiting waste and saving money. A 2005 University of Arizona study estimated that as much as 50 million pounds of food is lost daily in full-service restaurants, while more than 85 million pounds is thrown out daily in fast food establishments. Organization of food will cut down on costs and increase the profitability of your business.

Remember to #CleanYourFridge on National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on November 15, and put a thorough fridge cleaning on your kitchen schedule at least once a month going into the future.

Posted in: Restaurant Equipment | By Michael Yoder
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