Food Truck Spotlight: Foreign Policy

So I’ll definitely be the first to tell you that I am not the best food critic. I don’t run in to too many food trucks I don’t like and when I do I don’t usually have the heart to tell the whole world that they suck. I love foods from all corners of the world and all corners of the streets. However, there are a few trucks out there that have really blown me away and these guys are definitely on that short list. In my opinion, Foreign policy has done a great job at mixing not just two but three different styles of food and blending them perfectly to create flavors that will blow your mind. Here is their take on the food truck industry.

How long have you had your business?

2.5 years

2. What do you think of the food truck business so far?

Love it

3. What inspired you to start a food truck?

I attended Hilton College at UH.

Foreign Policy Food Truck

Foreign Policy Food Truck

Always loved to work in the food industry. What a better way than with a food truck

4. What did you do before this? What’s your background?

Bartender, restaurant manager, server.

5.What makes your concept stand out from your competition ?

We are a true fusion truck. Korean, Mexican, Greek with an American twist

6.What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

Reading the business. Figuring out how much food to prep.

7. What do you like most about the food truck business?

The interaction with the people. The freedom to move around.

8. Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own food truck?

If u are not willing to work 50-70 hours a week. This business is not for you

9. What’s your favorite dish on your menu?

Greek Pita, Texas Policy Burger, and Definitely THE DONUT BACON CHEESE BURGER

10. Is there a particular area that you stay around or you always moving?

We prefer to stay inside the 610 loop but we move around

11. Anything else we should know about your food truck business?

It may look ragging. But the food is. Mmmmmmmmm yummmmmmyyy

Are there any other questions you would like to ask Foreign Policy? Would you like to check them out in person? Click the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/ForeignPolicyFoodTruck/

 

Is there a food truck out there that you would like featured on this website? Do you have a food truck and want to share your story? Feel free to contact me!

3 Easy Steps To Maximize Your Menu On Your Food Truck

Menu Engineering or otherwise known as “menu psychology” is the study of strategically arraigning menu items in order to subconsciously persuade the customer to buy certain items.

Our goal in applying menu engineering practices is to maximize profits by increasing ticket averages as we encourage customers to buy more profitable items and discourage them from buying the least profitable items.

1.The first step in beginning the menu engineering process is  to first go through every item in your menu and figure out your cost. This should include all cost incurred to produce and serve such as:

  1. Food Cost
  2. Labor to prep
  3. Condiments
  4. Packaging

2.The second step is to categorize each item in order for us to decide which to keep and where to place. The most common method to explain this, is by using the chart below.

Each item on your menu will have to find a place on the chart above. Here is what you are looking for when deciding in which category they go in to.

  • Stars- High Profit, High Demand
    • Focus on pushing this product. Refer to eye gaze chart for proper placement on menu.
  • Plow Horses – Low Profit, High Demand. Ask yourself if there is anyway you could reduce the cost of this item.
  • Puzzles- High Profit, Low Demand. Make this item stand out in your menu and promote on your social media. Refer to eye gaze chart to get some clues as to where you should place on menu. Add color, pictures, boldness and different fonts to make these stand out. This is where your increase in profit will most likely come from. After all, your Star and Plow Horses sell themselves due to their demand. The Puzzles require your sales, marketing and menu engineering skills.
  • Dogs- Low Profit, Low Demand. These are most likely the items that you take off your menu as time goes by and you figure out what works and what doesn’t.

One of the main objectives of this step is to simplify your menu. It is better to specialize than to try to appeal to everyone. “In today’s world, people trust restaurants to be good at what they do, not at everything. Menu specialization has become a bigger tool than menu generalization,” says Steven Goldstein, a principal with The Culinary Edge in San Francisco.

Keep in mind that simplifying your menu also simplifies ordering for your customer and it will be easier to direct them to buy what you want them to. Get rid of the “Dogs” and highlight the “Stars”.

What To Avoid

  • Never use dollar signs.
  • Never use whole numbers. Always use decimals.
  • Anything that brings direct focus on the price such as a line or dots pointing towards the price.

What To Focus On

  • Make boxes on items you want people to gravitate towards.
  • Pictures placed next to an item always increase sales.
  • Use different font and font size to attract attention to specific items.
  • Better descriptions of menu items. People taste what you tell them to taste.
  • Your brand. Be sure that every item on your menu compliments what your business stands for and adds to the experience you are selling.

3. Trial and error phase is your next step. Its time to empliment everything you have learned and bust out the new menu. You’re going to want to keep a close eye on your numbers after making these changes to see if it made a positive or negative difference. Keep close watch on what items sold more or less. After a few weeks you should be able to see a consistent enough pattern to determine what worked and what didn’t. When you’re going through this phase it is probably best to experiment with a chalk board or eraseable markers to make changes when necessary. You can get a more permanent menu once you have a menu you are happy with.

What strategies do you use to maximize your menu and maximize profits? Let me know what I missed!

 

 


Food Truck Business Partnerships

Pros: You take on less risk because it is spread out among more people. You don’t have to do all the work yourself.There might be skills you lack that your partner might excel in and vise versa. Your start up cost might be significantly less because you can use each others resources.

Cons: There is more than one owner of the business so that means there is more than one decision maker. All of that profit is not yours. The success of your business relies on not only your efforts but those of your partners as well. You will have to deal with multiple personalities and find away to work together.

What you should know before you commit to a partnership

  • The first thing I am going to stress is to have every single detail written down in paper and notarized! Everything you have agreed to from the beginning must be written down on paper and signed by every party. If you don’t do this you will have nothing to use as a reference when people challenge the rules that you have agreed to.
  • Speak up from the beginning. If something bothers you about the way your partner is doing business, speak up. Voice all of your concerns right from the start and make it a habit to always have an open line of communication. Set the standard so you won’t have to worry about it in the future.
  • Partner up with someone who’s skills compliment yours and vise versa. If you are better at crunching numbers and are introverted you might want to partner up with someone who is good with people and extroverted. Partner up with people who bring something to the table that you don’t already have.
  • If you are the investor keep track of every penny you have invested. This can determine how much of the business you own from the beginning so make sure you know how much of the company is yours. Keep every receipt and store in a detailed record. Have it in writing that you agree to invest X amount of dollars for X amount of shares of the company. If there are any other added expenses write them down and have it signed by your partner that he acknowledges the new investment you made. The more you have in writing the less arguments you will have.
  • Trust but don’t be afraid to second guess. People tend to act completely different when money is involved. Always look out for your best interest and if something seems to good to be true be willing to think that it might be.
  • Keep it professional. Don’t get your personal issues involved. Once you and your partner start working every day together you will start to figure out each other’s personal lives and the problems that they deal with on an every day basis. Don’t ever get personal, especially when you are in the middle of a disagreement. Things can escalate and take a turn for the worst.
  • Know who you are dealing with. Don’t go in to something as serious as a partnership without really knowing your partner. This is your future we’re talking about! Don’t leave it in a strangers hands. You want to know how they handle money, how they handle stressful situations, know their financial situations and what their long time goals are. Look at their records. If they have a habit of starting a project and leaving it unfinished, chances are they will do the same with this new project you have started.You should also be aware of any personal commitments they may have that might distract them from your partnership. If they’re telling you that their family is not behind them and are being unsupportive towards the business then you can almost expect it to fail. Your business is going to have enough issues on it’s own there is no reason to get personal issues involved.
  • Have an exit strategy. I like to think of life as one big chess piece in which you always want to know your every move, even if it’s ten moves ahead. Look at your best case scenarios and your worst and be willing to explore both. Think of what you can do if things go as planned and what you could do if they don’t. You can’t anticipate everything that comes at you but you can prepare for the things that you do.
  • Consider if you really need to go in to a partnership. If you need help think of hiring employees as opposed to giving someone a share of your company. Some times you may find that you don’t need a partner you simply just need help and there are other ways to get help without selling a chunk of your business. I’f you must do so make sure you protect yourself and know exactly what you are getting in to.

Tell us about your business partnership and if it went wrong or prospered. What have you learned? What would you have done different from the beginning? How do you make it work? What advice would you give someone who is about to go in to a partnership?

 

 


Food Truck Equipment

Today’s post is simple. This is simply a list of equipment that is most commonly found on a food truck. I used amazon to provide links because they use equipment from different manufacturers so you can price and compare all in one site. In addition I will be providing a list of different companies who directly sell the equipment themselves as well.

Prep Tables

This always comes in handy especially if you do not have a commissary in which to prepare your food. You can also have freezers or refrigerators which have cutting boards on top that act as prep tables.

Hand sinks with splash guards

A side from a standards 3 teir sink you must also have a separate hand sink in order to pass inspection.

Standard 3-Teir Compartment Sink

One to wash, one to rinse and one to sanitize. The 3 compartment sink is the standard requirement among food trucks and most eating establishments in general. I would recommend sticking to this style to make sure you pass, however, you should always consult with whom ever handles inspections in your area to ensure you are up to code.

Refrigerators

Mostly useful for keeping beverages cold. You will also have more than enough room to keep food cold as well. In addition to this, you can also use this to keep syrups for shave ice/ snow cones cold as well.

Under Counter Ice Machine

This would probably come in handy if you are making your own drinks such as lemonade and tea.

Under Counter Refrigerator/Freezer

This is for a truck that does not have the space necessary to install a full size refrigerator. It can also be helpful if you are trying to maximize space. I have seen under counter freezers in which the top of them are used as a prep table with a cutting board. Two birds, one stone.

Ranges

This shows only one style that can be found. There are many different options such as a 4 burner and oven. If you have the space in your truck and depending on how much volume you can do, you can also find a 10 burner and 2 ovens.

Convection Ovens

This is mostly for those of you that run a mobile pizza truck.

Friars

A must if you plan of serving a side of fries with your meals. Maybe even some fried donuts…………………

Smokers

Can be used to change/ enhance flavors in meat, salads, broth, vegetables, cheeses and fruits.

Sandwich Press

Can be used to make some Cubano sandwiches, grilled cheese sanwiches, maybe even some quesadillas.

Generators

I decided to include this because all of this other equipment is pretty much useless without a generator. The most recommended generator among food trucks has been a Honda engine or at least is has been here in Houston. The main reason being because of how quiet it is.

Here are some good suggestions to find food truck equipment. Of course your best source is always a food truck builder but it never hurts to price and compare.

For a good food truck builder here in Texas click here!

I am aware that there is a  whole lot of other equipment that is required on a food truck. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts. Let me know what other equipment you feel is essential on a food truck! Don’t forget to share this post!

 


List of Most Common Food Truck Concepts

To go along with my previous post: “How to decide on your concept” I have also written this “List of Most Common Food Truck Concepts” to get your mind going  when trying to come up with a concept for your new food truck. This is a list of the most popular food trucks to have been created and should be taken in to account when deciding what kind of truck to create. The best thing to do is to take an already popular concept and create your own spin on it. Here is the list:

  1. Burgers
  2. Tacos
  3. Hot Dogs
  4. Asian Food
  5. Pizza
  6. Mexican Food
  7. Asian/Latin Fusion
  8. Barbecue
  9. Sandwiches
  10. Cajun
  11. Organic
  12. Greek/Mediterranean
  13. Filipino
  14. Indian
  15. Grilled Cheese
  16. Soup/Chili
  17. Italian
  18. Latin/General
  19. French Fries
  20. Southern Food
  21. Cuban
  22. Schnitzel and sausages
  23. Seafood
  24. Kebabs
  25. Breakfast
  26. Thai
  27. Lobster
  28. French
  29. Fusion
  30. Sushi
  31. Tamales
  32. Meatballs
  33. Hawaiian
  34. Philly Cheese steaks
  35. Falafel and pitas
  36. Korean
  37. Chinese
  38. Health Foods and Salads
  39. Vegan and Vegetarian
  40. Cheese
  41. Chicken and Waffles
  42. Macaroni and Cheese
  43. Japanese
  44. Italian Panini
  45. Argentinean
  46. Wings
  47. Spanish
  48. Jamaican
  49. Friend Chicken
  50. Polish
  51. Salvadorian
  52. Czech
  53. Bacon
  54. Stews
  55. Brazilian
  56. Dumplings
  57. Gyros
  58. Sloppy Joes
  59. Caribbean
  60. Pakistan
  61. Venezuelan
  62. Turkey
  63. Pickles
  64. Peruvian
  65. Sri Lankan
  66. Malaysian
  67. Kosher
  68. Fish and Chips
  69. Romanian
  70. Swedish
  71. Turkey
  72. Nuts
  73. Ice Cream
  74. General Desserts
  75. Cup cakes
  76. Ice Pops/ Frozen
  77. Bakery
  78. Frozen Yogurt
  79. Gelato
  80. Doughnuts
  81. Churros
  82. Creme Brulee
  83. Popcorn
  84. Waffles
  85. Empanadas
  86. Pies
  87. Crepes
  88. Peanut Butter
  89. Coffee/ Tea
  90. Smoothies/ Juices

Is there a food truck idea that you feel deserves to be on this list? Do you have a unique food truck concept for a future or an existing business? Comment below!


Deciding your Food Truck Concept

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it, keep looking. Don’t settle.”- Steve Jobs

Last week we spoke about the requirements of obtaining your permits in order to make sure you are safely cruising the streets and serving customers with out hassle.  But before you can get out there and spread the love, first you must decide on your concept.  There are a lot of questions to answer when you’re trying to decide on the type of food you are going to serve. Here are the most important ones to keep in mind when deciding what kind of food truck you are going to run.

First thing is first, what do you like? – What would you do all day, every day, even if you didn’t get paid to do so. Well first, I would hope that your first answer is to run a food truck. If not, then we need to take a step back and reevaluate your passions. The next thing that should come to mind is, “What kind of food truck you would like to run every day?” What menu can you pour your heart and soul in to? What kind of restaurant fits your personality and character? What’s your favorite kind of food that you know better than anyone else you know? Do you have a culture from a different country that you can incorporate in to your menu? Find out where your passion burns so deep, that you’ll stop at nothing to keep going.

Is there a demand for it in your area? – You can have the best concept in the world but if no one is looking for it in your area then it will all be in vain. Make sure that you know what kind of people are around you and what they are looking for. For example, if you are doing shave ice, then you are going to want to be around schools, day cares and parks. You wouldn’t want to be in an industrial area or a street that is known for having the best bars in town. I know this from experience. My own personal truck is a Hawaiian Shave Ice truck. We were once offered a free spot in front of a car wash in the middle of midtown Houston on West Gray Street. This street is known for it’s bars and lounges. Every day that we spent there was just as bad as the last. Our only target in that area was to hopefully catch a drunk who for whatever reason wanted some shave ice after having a few beers. Needless to say we moved else where in less than a month. We studied our target market and decided to follow them. This leads me to my next point.

What is your customer demographic? If you are already dead set on what kind of food you are going to serve, then you must think about who you are trying to reach out to. Too many people make the mistake of thinking “Everyone is going to buy my product. I’m going to market to everyone!” This is a huuuuuggee mistake. The reality is that not everyone will be looking for your product but you can do some research to find out who is. This will help you channel your time, energy and resources on people that will yield you the highest return on your investment. You also want to make sure that you are as specific as possible! Don’t leave out any detail. Describe your ideal customer as much as you can. Find out what they like. Where they typically hang around. What kind of words would attract them to gravitate to your truck. What kind of magazines they read (you can use this to possibly promote yourself in those magazines down the road if they are local magazines). What kind of music they like (if there is a concert in town with your customers favorite artist you might be able to attend as a vendor). You should also find out income levels, sex and marital status of your ideal customer.

Why is yours different?

Onolicious Hawaiian Shave Ice in Houston Texas

Onolicious Hawaiian Shave Ice | Follow on Facebook

In the restaurant industry there are hardly any new ideas. You will most likely be starting a concept that someone has already thought about and is currently in business. This is perfectly fine, however, you want to add something to make you different from the rest of your competition. For example, here is what sets my shave ice apart from everyone else ” Here at Onolicious we don’t sell snow cones or your average shave ice. We sell an organic and gourmet style of shave ice brought to you from the islands of Hawaii. Our ice isn’t like your usual snow cones. It’s as soft as the snow that you would find on the summit of Mauna Loa, dressed with our hand crafted syrups which are made from freshest organic fruits we could find. Not only will every bite make you feel like you are in paradise but you can be sure you are getting the highest quality syrups to resemble the healthy life style that is lived on the islands. Onolicious Hawaiian Shave Ice is a bit of Hawaii brought to you and a taste of heaven in your mouth.” Try to come up with a description just like this to explain what sets you apart from your competition and make this your mission statement to live by!

How can you keep it as simple as possible?

One of my favorite entrepreneurs to study is Steve Jobs. What intrigues me most about Jobs is his uncanny gift of  being able keep things simple but better than anyone else. This is exactly how you want to run your food truck. Find a way to keep your menu short but make every dish better than anyone else and then find a way to take it a step further to make it stand out.  A common mistake that many new food trucks make is to try to have a huge expansive menu and not be able to perfect any of them because they tried to appeal to too many people. Find your niche of people you are trying to serve and simply become the best at doing so. Another reason to keep things simple is for storage space and shorter wait times. As big as food trucks look, many people don’t realize how small the kitchen is. This means that you will have limited storage space for all of your ingredients and kitchen tools. A huge menu can make it very hard to keep enough ingredients on the truck which means that you want to make sure to only make room for what sells. Wait times are also very important. Street food is still considered fast food which means that customers will want their food…well…fast. If you keep your menu simple and make your items easy to cook you will be able to handle more customers in a shorter amount of time which will result in a larger reach and faster growth.

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” – Tony Robbins

Now that you have answered these questions, here are a few actions steps to take, in order to get one step closer to your dream business.

  1. Make a List- The best thing to do first, is to brain storm by just writing it all down. Jot down every item you would like to serve and highlight your favorite ones. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go with anything typical. You can get as creative as you want. Write down some dishes that you yourself have come up with and then write down some classic dishes that you could improve or prepare differently.
  2. Put the Pieces Together- Find out what goes together and what goes with the BRAND you are trying to build. I emphasize the word BRAND because this should be your overall focus. The goal is never to simply build a product but to create a great brand that people can fall in love with. Find the common factor between all your dishes and layout one brilliant puzzle with each dish being a small piece of it.
  3. Study the Competition- As I stated before, there is probably someone out there who is already doing something similar to what you are doing. Take advantage of this and go visit them while taking notes. Find out what they do best and what they need to improve on. Exploit their weaknesses, use the information to dominate and become numero uno. After all, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
  4. Analyze- When deciding what items to keep on your menu, ask yourself a couple of questions:
    1. How much can you keep in your food truck?
    2. Will you need additional storage to keep food elsewhere and if so do you have the budget to pay for that every month?
    3. How fast can you make each item?
    4. How many items can you make at the same time?
    5. Can you keep your food cost at 30% or less?
    6. How much are people willing to pay for your dishes?
    7. If you created something new, do people actually like it?
    8. Can you actually prepare these items easily on a food truck?
    9. How long can your ingredients be kept without them going bad?
    10. Does these items tie in to the overall brand you are trying to build?
  5. Create Your Menu- At this step you should be able to narrow down your best items to include in your menu. Use the three P’s to determine which items would be best. You want to make each item as Pleasant, Pronto and Profitable as possible. Choose about 10 items that fit this criteria and go from there.

To me, building a brand is definitely one of the funnest parts of starting a food truck but its also the most critical. You are essentially creating a map to go on one of the most important journeys of your life and you want to make sure it leads to your destination, which is success. Keep in mind that anyone that has been down an unknown road has run in to some dead ends but always found a detour that led them straight back on the road. Don’t be to concerned with perfecting this right now. After all the most important thing is to take action and find out what works and what doesn’t. It is only after we go through much trials and errors that we can begin to perfect our businesses.

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Looking Forward

For a list of Food Truck concepts to get your mind going click here.


Fajita Festival to Feature Houston Food Trucks

Hello everyone! Just checking in with another food truck event update. This one is sure to be a huge event and will be featuring a list of Houston’s best street vendors all in the Humble Civic Center. The Fajita Festival is a celebration of Mexican culture, food, drinks and entertainment.  It is the first time the Fajita Festival will be taking place and it is gaining recognition fast. It will hold a number of exciting shows and activities; midget wrestling, a jalapeno eating contest, a playground for the kids with a mechanical bull , a fajita workshop, live music art murals, a wine garden and so much more! The Fajita Festival is sponsored by Grandma’s Boy Lemonade who will be providing drinks at the festival.  They will be providing classic favorites like spiked Strawberry Lemonade and spiked Watermelon Lemonade, as well as creative beverages like “The Incredible Hulk,” a spiked cucumber and jalapeño lemonade.

"The Incredible Hulk" A cucumber and jalapeno Lemonade spiked with Vodka.

“The Incredible Hulk” A cucumber and jalapeno Lemonade spiked with Vodka provided by Grandma’s Boy Lemonade. | http://www.grandmasboyslemonade.com/

Here is a list of different food trucks and food vendors that will be featured at this event!

 

  1. Jabz BBQ 

  2. Big D’s BBQ and More

    Big D's BBQ in Houston Texas

    Big D’s BBQ | Follow on Facebook

  3. Taco Palenque (Fajitas) 

    Taco Palenque

    Taco Palenque | Follow on Facebook

  4. Fish Tacos
  5. Cousins Lobster

    Cousin's Maine Lobster in Houston Texas

    Cousin’s Maine Lobster | http://www.cousinsmainelobster.com/houston/

  6. Los Cucos  (Fajitas) 

    Los Cucos http://www.loscucos.com/

    Los Cucos |http://www.loscucos.com/

  7. Skye Café Inc (Fajitas) 

    Sky Cafe Food Truck in Houston

    Sky Cafe | https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009407891462

  8. Houston General Store (Fajitas)
  9. El Guajillo (Fajitas)

    El Guajillo Mexican Food Truck In Houston Texas

    El Guajillo Food Truck In Houston Texas | Follow on Facebook

  10. BanBans Cusine (Fajitas) 

    Tocchino Panini

    Tocchino Panini by Ban Ban Cuisine. Italian Mexican Fusion Food Truck | http://banbanscuisine.wix.com/banbanscuisine

  11. Lilu’s Cuban Press 

    Lilu's Cuban Press Food Truck in Houston Texas

    Lilu’s Cuban Press | http://liluscubanpress.com/

  12. Food Gasm 

    Food Gasm Food Truck Sandwiches in Houston Texas| https://www.facebook.com/FoodGasm-328350997349535

    Food Gasm Food Truck Sandwiches in Houston Texas| Follow on Facebook

  13. The Turkey Shack (Possible Fajita Menu)
  14. Happy Baking

    Happy Baking Food truck. Cupcakes. Houston Texas

    Happy Baking Food Truck | Follow on Facebook

  15. 1893 Salsa
  16. It’s a Party! Cotton Candy and Popcorn
  17. Danny’s Tamales
  18.  Mel’s Dips and Cheese Balls
  19. Corn Ya’ll
  20.  Monster PB&J 

    Monster PBJ Food Truck In Houston Texas

    Monster PBJ Food Truck In Houston Texas | Follow on Facebook

  21. Onolicious Hawaiian Shave Ice

    Onolicious Hawaiian Shave Ice in Houston Texas

    Onolicious Hawaiian Shave Ice | Follow on Facebook

  22. Bullritos (Fajitas) 

This list will update as vendors continue to join the line up. You can go to the Fajita Festival website for more information and updates before the event takes place.

The Fajita Festival will take place on June 4th at the Humble Civic Center from 11am to 11pm . The Humble Civic center is located at 8233 Will Clayton Pkwy, Humble TX.  A proceeds of the event will benefit La Rosa Family services, a Houston based non profit organization that focuses on preventing domestic violence in the greater Houston area.

We will be covering the event all day on our social media pages. Stay tuned as we cover the jalapeno eating contest, the lucha libre and live music. Most importantly be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be on the look out on how you can score some free tickets.

Bayou City Art Fest: Celebrating Texas Culinary Favorites

As I mentioned last month in, “Best Events for Food Trucks in Houston” ,there is going to be a great amount of events to find your favorite food trucks in town. This weekend we have a Houston classic, “The Bayou City Art Festival”, celebrating its 45th year in a row to spotlight the city’s best local artists. It’s only fitting to have some of Houston’s most talented culinary artist attend as well. Houston ranks high in the list of best food cities in America and our status on the list of most big boned people is a testament of our true love of all things delicious.  For this reason the Art Colony has integrated culinary art by bringing in some of the best chefs in town.

Crowd-Favorite Food Trucks:

  • The Waffle Bus

    The waffle bus food truck in Houston texas

    Waffle Bus | Follow on Facebook

    Who knew the ordinary breakfast waffle had so much potential? The Waffle Bus Owner, Phi Nguyen, has tapped into this breakfast tradition to bring out the best in flavor combinations, taking ordinary to extraordinary. For more, visit TheWaffleBus.com.

  • Pho-Jita

    Pho-Jita Fusion food truck in Houston Texas

    Pho-Jita Fusion Food Truck| Follow on Facebook

    Houston is known for its’ beautifully diverse population and its’ food trucks are no different. This Thai-Mexican cuisine will thrill your taste buds. Check out Pho-Jita on Facebook.

  • Happy Endings

    Happy Endings Food Truck in Houston Texas

    Happy Endings Food Truck| Follow on Facebook


    Whether you get the homemade eggrolls, fusion fries, a gourmet hot dog or taco baos, you and your taste buds will end up happy after eating at this food truck. Go to HappyEndingshtx.com for more.

 

Catering by Tasty Traditional Restaurants:

  • Brooks Family BBQ

    Brooks Family BBQ in Houston Texas

    Brooks Family BBQ | Follow on Facebook

    With a legacy lasting over 50 years, the southern-seasoned sauce is a perfect complement to the array of tender meats offered at Brooks Family BBQ. Visit BrooksFamilyFoods.com for more information.

  • Marble Slab

    Marble Slab Creamery

    Marble Slab Creamery | Follow on Facebook

    Choose from a variety of flavors at this Houston family favorite.  Marble Slab ice cream will be the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth, leaving only one question; cup or cone? Go to MarbleSlab.com for more.

 

  • Crepe Crazy At Crepe Crazy.
Crepe Crazy At Crepe Crazy

Crepe Crazy | Follow on Facebook

Their motto is “One cannot think well, love well or sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Expect a flood of flavor from this savory and sweet treat. Visit CrepeCrazy.com.

Dates: April 29-May 1 (Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1)

 

Location: Memorial Park 
These guys have played a big role in our community and the rise of Houston’s status as a foodie destination in our country. Come support these local entrepreneurs and try some of the best food in the city. For more information visit http://www.artcolonyassociation.org/

What You Should Know About Mobile Food Vending Permits (Including List of Requirements in Texas)

“People don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan.”- John Beckley

Before you make the leap to go out and get your first food truck built, you might want to take a look at this post first. A big factor in dictating the future of your food truck business is going to be the permits and laws of the city to which you are going to be serving people in. It is important to know what specific requirements are in your local area because it will mandate how you build your truck, where you can park, what you can sell, what parts of town you can go to and even how you run the business on a day to day basis. If you want to make sure that your business succeeds, then, I suggest you pay careful attention to these next few points.

  1. Pay Attention to Your Specific Area. -The requirements for obtaining your permits vary from state to state and even city to city. I have even found that the counties are a factor when obtaining food permits. Meeting all requirements in as many cities and counties as possible opens up an affluence of opportunities for you to make money. In Houston alone, I have needed 4 different permits in order to serve in different parts of the city. My suggestion to you is to focus on which ever permit gets you in to the most central part of the city. This area is typically where the biggest events are going to be. What this means for you is that you will have an opulence of good, quality, exposure that is sure to get your name out there.
  2. Keep Up With The Times– My second suggestion is that you stay on top of the laws in your area, as they are beginning to change faster and more frequently. The food truck industry is still evolving and is experiencing some growing pains. The information in this post might even be out of date in a short period of time. It is up to you to remain vigilant of any modifications that are made in your city in order to remain compliant with them.
  3. How are you classified?– A mobile food unit is defined by the Houston Food Ordinance as “a food service establishment that is vehicle-mounted or wheeled and is capable of being readily movable.” Now you should also note that there are a few different ways to classify a mobile food unit here in Houston. There should also be similar methods in your city as well (check the links at the bottom of this post). Here in Houston we have Conventional Unrestricted Units  which are enclosed units that serve open food which is prepared on the vehicle it self. We then have Conventional Restricted Units  which are vehicles that serve packaged goods prepared at an approved commissary. Next we have Ice Cream Trucks and Vans that are in their own category. You also have Ice Cream Tricycles and Push Carts in their own section as well. Last but not least we have Unrestricted Fixed Location and Park Vendor Units   which are food carts that are located in permanent spots. These are categorized in this way when they cannot be classified as a conventional unit but meet an alternative set of guide lines.
  4. Pick a Builder That Knows the Rules and Regulations– After speaking to different builders in town it has become apparent that they don’t all completely know the rules. I had the issue of being told that I needed a certain kind of equipment in shop A and then was told that it wasn’t necessary at shop B. This shows you that you should be just as educated as the builder in order to ensure that your truck is being built the right way and that you are not just being up sold. It helps if you get a builder that has a good relationship with who ever is in charge of mobile food in the health department to ensure that they are getting their information from a credible source. I would even suggest that you get to know the inspector at the health department as well so they can help you with any issues or questions you may have down the road. Imagimotive  is my personal suggestion for a good builder in Texas. They can help you build out your truck so it can pass through every county in the state and even the majority of the rest of the country.
  5. Talk to Your Local Food Truck Association for More Help– This is also a good source for information on permits and regulations. Your association should definitely be in touch with an inspector from the health department in town. They can redirect you to the right people to talk to about any questions you may have or they will be able to answer your questions themselves. The food truck associations are typically run by experienced food truck owners that have encountered just about any scenario you can think of so, they are a good source to rely on.  Click here for a list of food truck associations in Texas or click here for a list of associations in the whole country.
  6. Don’t Forget!– . Be sure to have all your paperwork prepared before you leave to get your inspection. The last thing you want is to be denied because you are missing a single document.  Send any plans that the city might have requested ahead of time and wait till they have been approved before your inspection.  Keep in mind that the health department might also want  paperwork from your local commissary that you plan on using  to prepare your food if necessary. You should also have some thing in writing that will show where you will be parking with the approval of the land owner. It might also be necessary to have an invoice from who ever supplies your propane tanks as well. Don’t forget to take care of any fees that were required to pay before continuing the process. The list of websites on the bottom of this post should have links that will provide you with a check list of paperwork to bring. Be sure to bring a generator because they are going to want to test your equipment, especially your water heater and any freezers you have. To sum up, be sure to check off everything that the health department requires you to provide to acquire your permit.

Final Word

Take this post seriously and get to know the rules in your area. Study them vigorously and dig deep in to them . Leave no stone unturned when doing your research in this subject. It is much more wise to be over prepared than to be misinformed. Your negligence can cost you money, time and even your reputation if you get shut down for failing a health inspection. It is your responsibility to ensure that your business is running at the highest standards. Don’t leave it in someone else’s hands. “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.”
Henry Ward Beecher

 

Here are a list links to the mobile food vendors permit requirements in each major city in Texas. If you see  your city missing and have the direct link to the website that can provide this information; please send it to me and I will add it to this list. You may also leave it in the comment section below. Feel free to also comment about anything I might have missed in my post above. Happy trucking my friends!


6 Reasons You Should Start or Join a Food Truck Association in Your City (List of Associations in Texas)

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” -Mattie Stepanek

In any field of business, one of the main attributes of a successful business can be found in the resources that it has available. Resources are not always attainable on your own, so there is a need to be able to connect yourself with those who have the necessary contacts, information and experience to propel you forward. In my experience in the business world I have always found that it’s not necessarily what you know but who you know. This is also true in the food truck industry when you  are trying to find information on the latest health codes, where to find the freshest ingredients, prime equipment and quality events to cater in.  One of the most ideal places to expand your resources is a food truck association. Together, a food truck association can help new food truck owners get to where they want to be and get the resources they need. Here is just a few reasons why it is important to join or start a food truck association in your city.

  1. Mentor-ship – If you are reading this I am assuming that you have started a new food truck business or are in the process of doing so. You’ve done a ton of research online and have crammed as much information in your brain as you possibly can. You’re going no where fast and you just wish you could sit down with someone who can help you break everything down.  After all, you have zero experience in business and much less the food truck industry. You are going at this blind and the only thing you know is that you have a dream that you are determined to see come to pass.  I know your pain and can tell you that anyone that has achieved anything great in life started in the same position you are now. What I can also tell you is that anyone who has achieved anything great had one thing to help give them that edge over everyone else. That my friends is a mentor or teacher.There is nothing like being able to sit down with someone who has already been where you are trying to go and can show you the best routes to take. They can tell you what to expect and what to prepare for. A mentor can show you the best way to go about your new journey as well as what not to do. They not only help you save time and money but they can also be the difference between success and failure. Mentor ship is extremely valuable and I highly recommend you seek out a personal mentor to guide you through your new venture.  You are probably wondering the same thing I did after discovering this and that is, “where can I find someone to mentor and teach me about this industry?” My first suggestion is a food truck association. I understand that not every city is fortunate enough to have one but if you are in a city that does I recommend that you make use of it. Food truck associations are usually founded by food truck owners who have years of experience and have built a solid network in the industry. These are just the kind of people you should start surrounding yourself with in order to succeed. Always look for those who walk the walk.
  2. Networking– Food truck associations are great groups to get involved in that can strengthen your knowledge and your network in the industry. A strong network is critical in any business but in an industry that depends on booking large events , a strong network is important to create a real revenue stream. An association will typically be connected with very influential people around the city from all walks of life. They may know city officials who can inform you about new laws that might affect your business. You can also be sure that they know the event coordinators at many large events around town. This can be the best way to get your foot in the door at large events in which you might have not been able to get in to on your own. You might also have special access to local distributors and vendors that can help you lower your cost. An association will also typically have a good relationship with the local food truck builders and will be able to direct you to the best ones so you don’t spend your time and money with someone who won’t do what you need them to.
  3. Help Improve Conditions for the Industry– Many big cities across the nation have become very food truck friendly but many more still have a long way to go. This is especially true in smaller cities in which local restaurants feel threatened by the rise of new mobile food vendors. This fear has lead to different laws that have made it much harder to operate in certain parts of town and have made it difficult to get permitted. I hear the complaints from many new owners that have emailed me to ask for help. My response is always to unify with other food truck owners and work with the city to improve conditions. If you want things to change, the best thing to do is to take matters in to your hands, along with the other food trucks, and push for new laws. You can also unify to start local food truck parks which always creates a buzz and much excitement.
  4. Improve the Image of the Industry– Despite how far food trucks have come, there is still this stigma that food trucks are “roach coaches.” They are some times still identified as street vendors serving sub par food that might give you the runs if you go to the wrong taco stand. This couldn’t be further from the truth as I testify that some of the most amazing food I have eaten has come from food trucks and are now inspected just as much if not more than your typical brick and mortar restaurant. This image will never change unless we change it. Together we can change this perception and even show how much our presence positively affects every city we are in.
  5. Knowledge – You don’t know what you don’t know and that can cost you. People complain about the cost of knowledge but never stop to think how much more it cost to try and operate a business with out it. If you don’t know that there is a new law in town that states that you cannot park within 100 ft of a restaurant and the establishment files a complaint about you parking next to them, there is no telling how much that fee will cost you. If you purchase a build out to pass inspection in your local city only to drive to the inspection center and find out that you looked up the wrong requirements, it’s going to cost you! It can cost you your money and even worse, your time. A food truck association can help you ensure you are always up to date with new laws and health codes. They can also help you figure out which spots are best to park at. You might even discover a better way to cut your cost and boost your sales. The reality is that no matter how much you know there is always something new to learn. In an industry that is constantly changing, if you are not informed properly, you can miss the boat and get left behind.  A food truck association is a great way to stay in the loop and ahead of the curve.
  6. Unify– I am proud to say that here in Houston we are very unified and have built a strong network between each other here. Sure there is plenty of competition but at the end of the day we realize that we are much stronger together than divided. Standing together gives you the ability to reach out to each others networks and resources. It also helps your quickly solve problems that ,alone, would’ve been hard to deal with. When you have a catering event that you weren’t able to make; you can always reach out to another truck and have them cover for you. If you have your generator stolen (true story) you can reach out to another food truck and possibly rent one from them. When you’re food truck goes up in flames the whole team can get together to figure out a solution and help you in your toughest of times to help you keep your dream moving forward. When you notice that your fellow food truck owner was able to get in to an event that you have desperately been trying to get in to, they can help you get in contact with who ever got them in. You  see, when we come together and put our differences aside, we open up the possibility of everyone succeeding together. After all we all have a dream and why not help each other make those dreams a reality. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
    Eleanor Roosevelt

I hope this helps you decide to join a food truck association or even start one! If you need help starting one, the National Food Truck Association is the best place to contact for more information on this matter. I have also included a list of the food truck associations in Texas that I know of so far. If you know of a food truck association in Texas that is not on this list please contact me and let me know. On that same note, if you see one on this list that is no longer active please let me know as well. Don’t forget to comment, share and subscribe!

 

 

North Texas Food Truck Association

North Texas Food Truck Association

Midessa Mobile Food Vendors Associaton

Midessa Mobile Food Vendors Associaton

The Austin Food Trailers Alliance

The Austin Food Trailers Alliance

San Antonio Food Truck Association Logo

San Antonio Food Truck Association