What is a Food Hall?
A food hall is a cafeteria-like setting where customers can choose from multiple food vendors and dine in a communal environment. Food halls have been gaining popularity and are starting to pop up in cities all over the country at a very high rate. A common characteristic of food halls is that they often showcase the different varieties of cuisine that a city has to offer, giving guests many options all conveniently located in the same place. Similar to the food truck trend, food halls represent an alternative method of dining that provides more options and freedom than other types of restaurants.
Food Halls vs Food Courts
Food halls are different from food courts in a few different ways. Where food courts are usually populated by fast food operators, food halls are curated with local, artisanal dining options. The food hall environment is specifically designed as a meet up space where groups of people can relax at communal tables. A lot of thought and attention is placed into the fixtures, seating, and lighting to keep up with current decor trends. In a food hall you'll find a wide variety of food stalls and retail booths, with everything from vegan chocolate to ramen bars.
How Do Food Halls Benefit Restaurateurs?
Food halls offer a variety of benefits for foodservice operators. Starting your own restaurant from scratch involves a lot of moving parts. Instead of investing in a building and being responsible for utilities, safety codes, and upkeep, aspiring restaurateurs simply rent their space from the food hall operator.
- The total investment cost is much more affordable than opening a brick and mortar location
- There is much less risk involved with renting a space in a food hall verses investing in your own
- You won't be responsible for maintaining the building, the exterior, or the parking lot
- It gives you the opportunity for a trial run of your concept
- Without the distractions normally associated with owning a restaurant, you can focus on making your brand clearly defined
Types of Food Halls
Currently, there are two types of food halls you'll find in operation:
- Multi-concept - In a multi-concept food hall, all dining options are operated by the same vendor or owner. This gives the operator opportunities to play around with many different concepts.
- Multi-vendor - Multi-vendor food halls rent out space for a variety of vendors to come in and set up shop. Some food halls rent out their spaces long-term and some rotate vendors for the best variety.
Where Can I Visit a Food Hall?
If you'd like to visit a food hall to see if renting a stall is the right choice for you or if you're considering starting your own food hall, you're in luck. Chances are, there's a food hall near you that you can visit.
- Revival Food Hall - Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Revival Food Hall is one of the most popular in the country. You can find it in the central business district on the first floor of The National, a recently renovated office building. Revival features 15 food stalls that spotlight local cuisine, including barbecue, charcuterie, and poke vendors.
- Morgan Street Food Hall - The Morgan Street food hall in Raleigh, North Carolina, opened its doors in August of 2018 and has already been voted as one of the top food halls in the country by USA Today. Anchored by an indoor/outdoor bar called The Arbor, Morgan Street is located inside a re-purposed warehouse. Inside are over 20 different vendors offering everything from boba teas to Lebanese cuisine.
Food halls are very attractive to guests because groups can meet up and easily find a dining option for everyone. With a food hall, consumers get the feeling they are supporting local, independent businesses rather than chain restaurants. For operators, food halls are a great way to launch your brand and figure out what works for your business and what doesn't. It's no surprise that food halls are seeing continued growth considering all the benefits they offer to vendors and consumers alike.
Choosing a Restaurant Concept
What Is a Restaurant Concept? A restaurant concept is the overall idea or theme that defines the restaurant. Concepts include the your menu's design, service style, dining room decor, and — of course — the style of food. Many restaurants are conceived based on a chef’s personal experiences or interests. Heritage, local ingredients, traditions, or family are all common sources of inspiration for restaurant concepts. But concepts can also be defined by a chef’s travel experience, training, or an interest in a certain area of art, science, or culture. Because food is, after all, a mixture of all those things. Read on to explore the elements of a concept, some steps to help guide your choices, and even some restaurant concept examples. Elements of Restaurant Concepts A good restaurant concept will cover an array of elements with one cohesive mood or tone. From the name of the establishment to even the paint color on the walls, every detail contributes to the overall concept. Restaurant Name The name of your restaurant should give customers a pretty good idea of the type of food you serve. It needs to be memorable, preferably simple, and most importantly, authentic. There are many different approaches to choosing a restaurant name, but owners often take inspiration from their location, a signature dish, or even a family member who inspires them. Menu Writing The description of your foods can be as literal as listing off the ingredients in the food and the ways they were cooked, or as poetic as a brief description of an experience, visual image, or abstract theory. But your approach should make sense in the context of your food and overall theme. Service Styles While service styles may seem unrelated, the type of service you offer directly relates to your restaurant concept in the sense that it affects the diner's overall experience. Here is a list of service types that can impact your concept: Fine Dining Bistro Mid-Scale Dining Family Style Coffee Shop Bar Pop-Up Ghost Restaurant Fast Casual Buffet Food Truck Fast Food Restaurant Decor and Ambiance Wall color, lighting, furniture, table settings, music, and decor all play a huge role in the overall impact of your restaurant. So, even though your food must be the main focus of your efforts, it’s important to make some basic decisions about decor pretty early on in the planning process. Do you want a fun, casual vibe for game days or a romantic spot suitable for date nights? Considering the needs of your customers can act as a helpful reference point for decor and theme decisions as well. How to Choose a Restaurant Concept Of course, deciding on one concept can be tricky. We’ve broken the process down into five steps to help guide your thoughts. Identify what inspires you and defines you as a chef - This is easier said than done and often takes chefs an entire lifetime to figure out. Deciding the style of food that you gravitate towards the most is a good place to start. It can come from your heritage or upbringing, but it doesn’t have to. Define your unique spin - Restaurants that offer something unique stand a much better chance of sticking around and getting customers excited about your food. Research your customer base - It can be tough to tell exactly what type of restaurant will resonate with people in a given area, but it’s important to make sure that there is some demand for what you want to offer. Get a sense for the competition and observe where other businesses have found success. Try to think about what’s important to your prospective customers and decide what you want to communicate to them. Develop a menu - While it’s okay to stray from traditions a little bit, it’s important to avoid conceiving dishes that are muddled or confusing. So, if you brand yourself as an Irish pub, you may want to offer all the classic staples that people will expect before they even walk in the door. But if your concept is Chinese-Mexican fusion or molecular gastronomy, you can probably get away with a lot more whimsy. Choose a service style - Once you have your menu mostly figured out, it should be easy to pick a service style that will lend itself well to your dishes. For example, many Italian foods are great when served family style, but pricey seafood entrees might be best in a fine dining environment. Restaurant Concept Ideas and Advice Just as every artist finds a different path for each project, developing a restaurant concept is very personal to each restauranteur. While there’s never any clear cut strategy that works for everyone every time, there are a handful of basic guidelines you can use to keep you on track. Be Aware of Customer Expectations Certain service styles are often accompanied by specific etiquette, such as dress code. Most importantly, you need to make sure that customers know what to expect when they arrive at your restaurant in order to help avoid awkwardness. For example, if your website advertises casual American food and a casual atmosphere, customers might be upset if they arrive to find formal tables and high prices. So, try to strike a balance of uniqueness and familiarity. Consistency Is Key Your restaurant’s identity should be consistent and harmonious to create a comfortable atmosphere. Restaurant concept consistency is twofold: it needs to be cohesive, and it needs to remain constant. This means that all the different aspects of your establishment need to have some common thread. And once you’ve established a menu and style you’re happy with, it’s important to stick with it. While seasonal changes can be a great way to keep things fresh, the overall tone of your restaurant should stay the same, so that returning customers can know what to expect, give accurate recommendations to their friends, and enjoy the experience again and again. When in Doubt, Think About Food Your passion for food should serve as a compass throughout the concept developing process. Referring back to your core menu idea before making any decision can help ensure a cohesive concept. Unique Restaurant Concept Examples Coming up with restaurant theme ideas can be difficult, especially because there’s a fine line between clever and gimmick. Although, theatrical restaurants can be very popular and fun, too! Here are some examples of approaches to restaurant concepts. Mashups - Most concepts stem from the style of food, and often, the most successful restaurants combine dishes, decor, and service styles in an original way. Think French fine dining food in a relaxed, farm-to-table environment. High End Restaurant Concepts - Most Michelin star restaurants become famous because of their innovative concepts. Sure, this award is only given to chefs who put out innovative food, but typically, the idea behind the restaurant carries into the quality of the dining experience. As a result, the name of each dish, the vessel it’s served on, the lighting, the furniture, and the location all need to be cohesive. Gimmicks - Rainforest, drive-in movie, funeral themes, earthquake-themed are all examples of gimmicky concepts that can be a fun and unique experience for diners. While developing a restaurant concept might seem like an impossible feat, if you break down the process into smaller steps, it becomes a lot more manageable. Creating a menu, mood, and service style that feels cohesive largely relies on a keen intuition and clear vision. So, whether you’re opening a restaurant for the very first time or thinking of fresh restaurant concept ideas that differ from restaurants you’ve established in the past, the same basic principles apply. Try to balance uniqueness with expectation, keep things consistent, and put food first.
How to Buy a Food Truck
Purchasing a kitchen-equipped truck is the most expensive and time-consuming part of starting a food truck business. You’ll need to find a food truck manufacturer you trust, establish clear communication, and customize your food truck to meet both your personal needs and regional requirements. To make buying a food truck less intimidating, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the food truck purchasing and personalizing process. We’ll explain the average food truck costs and help you determine whether a new, used, or leased food truck is right for you. Shop All Food Truck Supplies & Equipment If you have a specific question about buying a food truck, use the links below to jump to the correlating section. Click any of the tips below to read the section that interests you: How Much Does a Food Truck Cost? How to Own a Food Truck New vs. Used Food Trucks Lease a Food Truck Where To Buy a Food Truck Design Your Own Food Truck How to Customize a Food Truck How Much Does a Food Truck Cost? On average, most food truck entrepreneurs spend between $70,000 and $80,000 on their food truck. The total price of buying a food truck can amount anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 depending on how you acquire the truck, customize it for your needs, and your local permit and licensing requirements. To help you narrow down how much you should expect to spend on your food truck, we break down the average cost of new, used, and leased food trucks below. How Much Does a New Food Truck Cost?: New food trucks typically cost between $100,000-$175,000. How Much Does a Used Food Truck Cost?: Used food trucks typically cost between $50,000-$100,000. How Much Does Leasing a Food Truck Cost?: Leasing a food truck typically costs between $2,000-$3,000 each month. How to Own a Food Truck The first step in owning a food truck is assessing the financial obligation by writing a food truck business plan. Begin by researching your target market, local ordinances, licensing and permit demands, parking permit regulations, and what type of equipment your menu requires. Most food truck entrepreneurs need to apply for financing or a loan to offset food truck startup costs. Before heading to your bank, know your credit score and, based on your food truck business plan, know how much owning a food truck business will cost you. Once you’re approved for a loan, you'll know your budget and can start shopping for a food truck. There are three paths to owning a food truck business: buying a new food truck, buying a used food truck, or leasing a food truck. What Is Better, to Buy a New or Used Food Truck? One of the biggest decisions of buying a food truck is deciding whether to purchase it new or used. While there are advantages and disadvantages of each choice, it ultimately comes down to what your budget is and how much you can afford upfront. We'll go over the pros and cons of buying new and used food trucks, so you can make the best decision for your financial status. Buying a New Food Truck If you have the money, buying a new food truck is a worthwhile investment that will help you avoid costly repairs down the line. Discover the advantages and disadvantages of buying a new food truck below. New Food Truck Advantages Custom-tailored to your needs No wear and tear or undisclosed damages Reduces the risk of costly breakdowns and major repairs Usually have great warranties Fresh, clean, and polished appearances New Food Truck Disadvantages Large financial investment Customization requires longer lead times High initial expense makes it hard to make future changes if you quickly outgrow the truck's capacity Buying a Used Food Truck If you want to own your food truck but are hesitant to invest in a brand new vehicle, buying a used food truck is a great alternative. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of buying a used food truck below. Used Food Truck Advantages Initially cheaper than new trucks Pre-done retrofitting allows you to see if the kitchen layout works for you Equipment is already installed Cuts the decision-making process down Used Food Truck Disadvantages Higher risk of costly repairs and maintenance Unknown wear and tear Lower life expectancy You may have trouble finding a vendor willing to customize it (because they don’t know what was done previously) Back to Top Lease a Food Truck Purchasing a kitchen-equipped truck is the most expensive part of becoming a food truck operator, so many entrepreneurs circumnavigate this major up-front cost by leasing their food truck. Making smaller payments over time allows you to get a brand new, high-end food truck without a large initial fee. The leasing route might be right for you if you're new to the foodservice industry or want to see if your brick and mortar does well as a food truck. One disadvantage of leasing a food truck is you may have to return the truck when your lease ends. If your food truck business is doing well, you’ll endure a stressful transition to a new truck, lose operational time, or be forced to close your thriving business. We strongly recommend choosing a food truck lease agreement with lease renewal or lease-to-own options. Where To Buy a Food Truck Once you know your budget and decide whether you want a new, used, or leased food truck, you'll need to find a reputable food truck dealer. While you can purchase food trucks from private parties and sites like Craigslist or eBay, it’s important to recognize the high risk of this choice. When investing an immense sum of money into the foundation of your business, you want to know every detail about your future food truck. Many entrepreneurs ask the owner of their favorite food truck where they purchased their vehicle. Asking food truck owners for recommendations provides the opportunity to inquire about how well their truck runs and if they had a positive experience with its vendor. Design Your Own Food Truck Customizing your food truck is both the most stressful and most intriguing part of buying a food truck. If you go with a reputable manufacturer, they’ll take most of the stress off your shoulders and bring your vision to life. Founder of Prestige Food Trucks, Jeremy Adams, provided some great insight on how a typical purchasing process goes. While a lot more communication goes into the purchase than what is listed below, these five steps provide a general outline of the process. A customer will call or email the company they want to purchase from with an inquiry. The customer receives a response that typically asks them what their equipment needs and budget are, what city they’ll be operating in, and what type of food they’ll be serving.Once this information is provided, a company will usually send out custom blueprint options to which customers can make any adjustments. After this is completed, a company typically works on a 2-3 month lead time before shipping the food truck. Many manufacturers can ship nationally or internationally. Once a customer receives their purchase, they must obtain any permits needed before they can hit the streets selling their specialty cuisine. Back to Top How to Customize a Food Truck The main determining factor in how you should layout of your food truck is the cuisine you’re offering. While the most common food truck items are flat grills, countertop fryers, food warmers, refrigerators, and freezers, each truck will differ. For example, a food truck specializing in pizza needs a pizza oven and possibly an extra generator or propane tank, whereas a coffee truck benefits from an extra supply of hot water. Also, as you customize your food truck to your menu, make sure your layout provides enough space for other pieces of essential food truck equipment. Food Truck Size The average food truck is 16 feet long and seven feet wide, but they can range from 10 to 26 feet long depending on their operational needs. Make sure you choose a vehicle that’s large enough to accommodate your kitchen layout, ingredient storage requirements, and staff members. After assessing your needs, decide whether your mobile food business requires a food truck, food trailer, or a food cart. Some companies can transform anything, from step van chassis and sprinter vans to passenger vans and RVs, into fully functioning food trucks. Food Truck Fuel Decide whether you want to go with a gas or diesel engine for your food truck, determining your fuel cost. There are many pros and cons to each type, so it comes down to preference. Most food truck owners choose diesel engines for their power, but you have to be prepared for that slightly larger initial investment. While gasoline is cheaper than diesel fuel, diesel has a greater fuel economy. Gas engines will run more quietly and have a less noticeable odor, whereas diesel engines provide you with unmatched power. If properly maintained, a diesel engine can easily go for 300,000 miles. When engines require maintenance, gas operating engines are typically cheaper to repair than diesel. However, since diesel engines last longer, you’ll get a better resale price if you ever decide to sell your food truck. Food Truck Power Supply Portable diesel generators are the typical power source for food trucks and trailers. Diesel-powered generators withstand constant heavy use and have long lifespans. If you live in a sunny location, you can sustainably power your food truck by installing solar panels to the roof. Another food truck power supply option is to use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders. Food Truck Special Features Finally, when customizing your food truck, you get to pick the special features that will make it your own unique restaurant on wheels. Whether you’re adding special equipment to the interior of the truck to make food prep more efficient, or you’re adding aesthetic details to the exterior to make your truck more visually appealing to customers, a reputable dealer will work with your vision. Check out some beneficial accessories you can add to your truck below. <blockquote> Security Awning - This locking security awning will protect the contents of your food truck when it's not in use. Security awnings are usually a sliding piece that covers windows, doors, and any external TVs, speakers, or other devices to protect them from vandalism. Use the awning as an extra branding space by customizing it to match your truck’s design. Flat Panel TV - Add a flat panel television to the exterior of your food truck so you can market your menu, specials, locations, and other important information. You can also use it to play music. Speakers - By adding speakers, you can announce when orders are ready and entertain your long line of customers with music. Retractable Awning - Manual or electric awnings shelter customers while they wait at your serving window and create a slight sound barrier that allows workers to hear customers' orders more clearly. Longer awnings protect patrons from the rain, snow, or glaring sun while they're waiting to order, which prevents lost business due to long, uncomfortable wait times. Misting System - This feature is perfect for the summer months or for food trucks in areas where the climate is hot year-round. Food truck operators usually install misting systems above their exterior serving window to keep customers cool while they wait. Vinyl Wrap - Many businesses have designers who work with clients to create a personal logo or image. They then transfer the logo onto a vinyl wrapping that goes around the entire truck for branding. These wrappings can include graphics, menus, business names, and any other advertising materials, and they will include the proper cutouts for windows and serving windows. Perforated Window Film - Window perforation allows your logo or decal to continue onto the exterior of your windows. This allows customers to see the image, but also enables employees to still see clearly out the window. Dual-Service - Many truck owners want to have service stations on both sides of the truck so they can maximize volume and service. </blockquote> Back to Top Owning a food truck frees you from the physical and financial tethers of a storefront. However, buying a food truck involves a lot of research, time, money, and communication. Use this guide to make an informed purchase. With careful planning, you can buy the ideal food truck for your business and take your delicious menu on the road.
Top 10 Food Truck Cities in America
Determining the best cities for food trucks isn’t exclusively based on good weather and public interest. State-and-city-imposed fees, permits, and regulations heavily affect a food truck’s success and must be factored into your food truck business plan. So, where exactly are food trucks most successful? We’ve rounded up the top 10 food truck cities in America. Click on any city’s name for its breakdown. Portland Denver Orlando Philadelphia Indianapolis Houston Austin Los Angeles New York City Nashville How Profitable Are Food Trucks? So far, the food truck industry's revenue in 2020 is $1.1 billion, and its market size has a greater rate of increase than the rest of the consumer goods and services sector. New and seasoned restauranteurs alike are interested in starting a food truck and tapping into the profitable mobile vending industry. While experts predict that the food truck industry will continue to sky-rocket, how profitable food trucks are for their owners varies widely based on their city's licensing and operational procedures. Individual owners should evaluate their city's friendliness to food trucks before investing in their own. Top 10 Best Cities for Food Trucks in America While most cities have at least a handful of food trucks, some cities are more profitable for food truck owners and provide a friendlier environment for food truck operations. Learn more about the top 10 food truck cities in America for food truck operators. 10. Nashville, Tennessee Music City, Athens of the South, Nash-Vegas, Nashville is known by many names, all of which bespeak its reputation as a cultural mecca for musicians, intellectuals, and late-night revelers alike. Nashville is the perfect environment for inventive food trucks to thrive. Thankfully, the city of Nashville provides moderate regulations on food trucks, making it number 10 on the list of the most profitable cities for food trucks. Operating a Food Truck in Nashville Registration: Food truck operations in Nashville face somewhat high registration fees and an additional water permit. City Acceptance: The cost of operating a food truck in Nashville is consistent with national averages. In a recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation,, food truck operators reported that officials are friendly to them at office visits, and that they’re only required to visit city offices an average of 15 times to run their food truck business. Vending Limitations: It is Nashville’s unusually high proximity limitations that keep it at the bottom of our top 10 best food truck cities in America list. Nashville food trucks cannot be within 150 feet of a building inhabited by either a full-service or fast-food restaurant. 9. New York City, New York New York City is steeped in food truck history and is home to some of the best food trucks in the country. However, it's comparatively stringent food truck rules and regulations keep it from topping the list of the best cities for food trucks in America. Operating a Food Truck in New York City Licensing Cap: New York City has placed a cap on the number of available food truck licenses, making it nearly impossible to legally obtain one. Food truck operators in New York City reported that acquiring a two-year vending permit often requires 15 years on the waiting list or paying over $25,000 to obtain one on the black market. Impossible Restrictions: Food trucks are not allowed to vend from metered parking. Not only are open parking spots hard to come by, they must also be 20 feet from a building’s entrances and 10 feet from crosswalks. These two restrictions combined make operating in Manhattan nearly impossible. Food truck operators reported that receiving $65 tickets from the police is just a part of operating a food truck in New York City. Extra Licenses: Every employee working in your food truck, from the cashier to the chef, is required to have a food handler's license and attend a health department class. 8. Los Angeles, California As the birthplace of the modern food truck craze, one would expect Los Angeles to top the list of the best cities for food trucks in America. If you’re wondering where to get the best food truck food, Los Angeles may still be the answer. However, if you want to know where food trucks are most profitable, the outlandish expense of operating a food truck in Los Angeles prevents the city from topping the list of the best cities for food trucks. Operating a Food Truck in Los Angeles Restrictions: Los Angeles doesn’t impose a lot of restrictions on where food trucks can operate. While food trucks cannot vend on public property, private lots are prevalent and there are few proximity restrictions for operating around schools and public parks. On the whole, Los Angeles has embraced the food truck market as a key element in its culture. Permitting Expenses: The biggest challenge Los Angeles food truck operators face is that their permit doesn't allow them to operate across the entire county. Obtaining multiple permits to operate across the metro area is extremely costly. 7. Austin, Texas Thanks to their food truck friendly regulations, the capital of live music seems to be sharing another title these days: food truck capital of America. While Austin may not have as many food trucks as other major cities, they make up for it by producing some of the tastiest eats and offering a profitable market for food truck owners. Operating a Food Truck in Austin One-Stop-Shop Permitting Process: On average, acquiring a food truck permit requires 20 steps and 14 trips to regulatory bodies, but Austin has eliminated this exhaustive process by creating a one-stop-shop for food truck licensing. Additionally license fees in Austin are comparatively lower than America’s other best food truck cities. Average Restrictions: While proximity limitations are in-line with national averages, each county surrounding Austin imposes different taxes and rules which add difficulties and expenses. Challenging Health Inspection Process: The most consistently reviled aspect of operating a food truck in Austin by food truck entrepreneurs is the city’s difficult health inspection process. A tight window for conducting your inspection is provided, and both the inspection itself and the ensuing approval process is lengthy. 6. Houston, Texas While food trucks may not be the most practical dining option in ‘The Bayou City’ (they receive 53 inches of rain per year.) Houston's international residents and strong local traditions of Tex-Mex and BBQ are well-suited to the food truck industry. Thankfully, from residents' tastes to regulatory terms, Houston is a city where food trucks are profitable. Operating a Food Truck in Houston Zoning: While Houston has no zoning code, Houston's food truck operators are prohibited from using street parking, cannot operate within 100 feet of a restaurant, and must remain 60 feet apart from fellow food trucks. Extra Commissary Fees: Commissary kitchens and storage spaces require food truck operators to visit daily whether they need to or not. Additionally, food truck owners must pay the commissary daily regardless of whether they operated their business on that day. Hidden Fines and Regulations: Houston food truck operators face additional and often unexpected fines such as an electronic monitoring fee. They are also required to submit notarized letters from the private properties where they operate stating that they have permission to use the location and that there are bathrooms on-site. 5. Indianapolis, Indiana Most people will tell you that the food truck scene is best on either the west or east coast. However, Indianapolis proves that the midwest offers equally delicious and unique food truck options. Due to its comparatively limited restrictions, Indianapolis surpasses many coastal cities as a destination where food trucks are most successful. Operating a Food Truck in Indianapolis Easy to Get Started: Its low food truck start-up fees and comparatively few required trips to regulatory offices make Indianapolis one of the best places to buy a food truck start a new food truck business. Simple Ongoing Compliance: It is easy to comply with Indianapolis’ food truck regulations since the majority of them are surrounding food safety and sanitation requirements. These safety and sanitation requirements are in line with the rest of Indiana’s standardized Administrative Code. Information Scarcity: While Indiapolis’s rules for starting a food truck help operators, information on how to start your business is not readily available on the city’s website. Finding the information requires scouring multiple websites and trudging through dense terminology. 4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Home to numerous colleges and universities and imposed with few restrictions, Philadelphia food trucks are highly profitable. See why the City of Brotherly Love is one of America's top food truck cities. Operating a Food Truck in Philadelphia Few Regulations: Food truck operators in Philadelphia enjoy an easy start-up process, few trips to licensing offices, and light regulatory procedures. Most of the regulations food truck operators must adhere to are universal safety and sanitation rules. Frequent Health Inspections: In addition to their annual review, food trucks must receive a health inspection for every large event they vend. On average, food truck operators in Philadelphia will receive between 10 and 30 inspections in a given calendar year. Difficult to Vend in Prime Locations: The Philadelphia food truck market is heavily saturated, so, acquiring approval to vend in the most profitable spots is difficult and can require years of waiting. Inconsistently Enforced Rules: Because Philadelphia's rules (such as the mandate that food trucks not park within 30 feet from each other and must not operate past midnight) are inconsistently enforced, food truck operators lose their competitive edge if they comply with rules and risk fines if they don’t. 3. Orlando, Florida While Orlando is known for its theme parks, this Florida city is home to a lively foodie scene, and its rules and regulations make it one of the best cities where food trucks are most profitable. Orlando is the US city with the most food trucks per capita due to its friendliness towards trucks, earning it the number three spot on the top 10 food truck cities in America. Operating a Food Truck in Orlando Most Affordable Operational and Permitting Fees: Orlando helps food truck vendors succeed by offering them unbeatable $50 permits, low on-going operational fees, and readily available compliance information on their local government’s FAQ page. Challenges and Limitations: Orlando food truck operators cannot sell food or merchandise on city streets or sidewalks. Additionally, vending across the metro area requires additional permits and inspections. 2. Denver, Colorado Consistently ranked as America's fittest city, Denver's residents are drawn to food trucks that offer local, organic, and healthy food menus while they walk the streets for exercise. Denver is also one of America's fastest-growing cities, attracting young professionals and families. Combining the two essential elements for a food truck's success: a strong clientele base and food truck friendly rules and regulations, Denver is it the second-best city for food trucks in America. Operating a Food Truck in Denver Straight Forward Startup Procedures: Denver aids food truck entrepreneurs by offering just 10 start-up procedures and requiring only a few trips to city offices to obtain approvals. Government permitting processes are transparent and easily navigated on government websites. On-going operational compliances are equally transparent and as easy to follow as start-up procedures. Altering Vehicles for Safety: To operate a food truck in Denver, owners must install fire suppression systems, change gas lines, and adjust propane tank sizes. Making mandated updates and repairs to comply with the rules can be costly. and requires a well-planned food truck layout. Complex Cross-Metro Operations: Operating your food truck across Denver’s metro area will incur additional regulatory costs and permitting fees. Additionally, you are required to file taxes in each city you operate within, which is both a hassle and an expense. 1. Portland, Oregon Portland Oregan is the city where food trucks are most profitable, reigning our list of the top 10 food truck cities in America. While they're commonly referred to as “food carts” in their neck of the woods, Portland boasts over 600 trucks and trailers serving up tantalizing treats. This “weird” city has so many carts that they have multiple food truck parks, like Cartlandia, Mississippi Marketplace, and Cartopia. The city of Portland embraces its food carts by making sure its food trucks are profitable so they can continue enriching the city's vibrant culture. Operating a Food Truck in Portland Easy to Get Started and Easy to Operate: Portland helps food truck operators thrive by making licenses easy to obtain and making vending processes clear and easy to follow. Portland imposes no proximity limitations on food trucks nor do they impose sales taxes. Portland is hands down the best city for food truck operators in America. Effortless Vending: Downtown Portland has set aside many parking lots exclusively for food trucks. Additionally, the government invests resources into creating easily navigable procedures for remaining operable. Expensive Permits: While straightforward to obtain and easy to come by, Portland’s food truck permits aren’t cheap. Additional expenses are incurred by the requirement that operators obtain a special permit to cater an event. Without this permit, food truck operators must use a separate commissary kitchen to cater events and weddings . Water Tank Requirement: Food trucks must have a 50-gallon water tank on hand. While not all cities require this specific measure, food truck operators should create a food truck equipment checklist to make sure they always have the supplies they need. How Did Food Trucks Get Their Start? Then and Now Now that you know the top 10 food truck cities in America where food trucks are most profitable, you may be wondering how food trucks got their start. We've broken down the fast facts of both food truck history and the modern food truck craze. We then explain how you can incorporate the tactics of the modern food truck craze's top entrepreneurs and make your food truck business more profitable. Food Truck History The first known food truck was created in 1872 by a man named Walter Scott. Scott cut windows into his wagon and parked in front of a Providence, R.I. newspaper office where he sold sandwiches, slices of pie, and coffee to journalists who worked long and odd hours. For this same reason, parking near a college campus to serve students is profitable for modern food trucks. While Scott created America's first food truck prototype, the New York City hot dog cart popularized America's street vending tradition. The history of the hot dog cart began in the 1860s with German immigrants serving sausages with milk rolls and sauerkraut from a cart in New York City's Bowery. In 1893, the first official hot dog cart was opened by Charles Feltment in Coney Island with tremendous success, 3,600 dachshund sausages were sold in Feltman’s first year. Since NYC is largely responsible for popularizing street food in America, it’s no surprise that it is a top food truck city in the modern food truck craze. We’ve examined three of NYC’s best food trucks and provided tips on how to run a successful food truck. Learning from the Best Food Trucks in New York City: The Cinnamon Snail: As the first vegan organic food truck in the US, The Cinnamon Snail set the industry standard for how to accommodate vegans and vegetarians and prove to meat-lovers that vegan food can be flavorful and delicious. Unfortunately, the Cinnamon Snail closed their food truck in 2020, but the legacy lives on in their cookbook, Street Vegan. The Halal Guys: The Halal Guys began serving a niche market in NYC and has since proven that a food truck can turn into a major franchise represented across the US. The secret to their success? They serve food that travels well and remains true to their roots by continuing to use certified halal meat even though approximately 95% of their current clientele is not Muslim. Perhaps the true secret is in their signature sauce. Having a signature sauce will draw customers to your establishment in even the most saturated market. Korilla BBQ: Korilla takes the spicy flavors of Korean barbecue and applies them to traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos and burritos. Korilla is an example of what a successful food truck marketing plan can do. Korilla has grown a social media platform of 28.6K Twitter followers and 18.3K Instagram followers by connecting with their client's values. Additionally, they've leveraged broadcasting exposure by appearing on TV shows such as Sesame Street and The Great Food Truck Race. They now boast several food trucks and a brick and mortar location. Modern Food Truck Craze The modern food truck craze began in LA circa 2008 with Kogi. Not only did Kogi kickstart the modern food truck craze, but they are also responsible for innovating the fusion food truck trend. Since Kogi's wild early success, LA has continued to pioneer America’s modern food truck craze. Follow top Los Angeles food trucks' patterns of success as you develop your own food truck business. Learning from the Best Food Trucks in Los Angeles: Kogi: Arguably the spark that started the modern food truck movement, Kogi has been serving up Korean-Mexican fusion food since 2008. Kogi was the first to harness the power of Twitter in the food truck industry, setting the standard for how to leverage social media. Prince of Venice: While pizza may be common to food trucks, Prince of Venice fills the void for pasta. Prince of Venice combines Italian imports and locally sourced ingredients to deliver from scratch noodles and sauces. Its name is not just a clever moniker, it is run by Prince Emanuele Filiberto, the grandson of the last King of Italy, Umberto II. While you may not have royalty to leverage, Prince of Venice shows how combining authenticity and loyalty to one's heritage with fresh local ingredients earns a loyal following and tremendous success. Coolhaus: Woman-founded and led Coolhaus uses responsibly sourced ingredients to create innovative twists on classic ice cream pints and cookie sandwiches. They are the perfect example of how you can turn a menu item into an easy to consume, handheld dish. They’ve continued to partner with other female-owned businesses and show the power of women supporting women to achieve feats of entrepreneurship. They now boast several food trucks, brick and mortar locations, offer on-demand delivery (including next day air delivery), and their products are sold at retail locations. Knowing where food trucks are most profitable and educating yourself on how pioneers of the modern food truck craze achieved success primes your food truck business for a lucrative future. We hope you use our guide to the top 10 food truck cities in America.to launch your food truck business with open eyes; ready to take advantage of the benefits your city provides and tackle the challenges it poses.