Catering Food Trucks, Trailers, & Carts
Food trucks in the U.S. date back to 1872, when a culinary entrepreneur named Walter Scott invented the lunch wagon. Some people take the concept of food on wheels all the way back to the chuck wagons of the Wild West. In the 1950s, mobile canteens brought lunch to troops on Army bases, and food trailers, trucks, and carts bring culinary products to millions of diners, from fairs to street corners to weddings, as one of the ways to operate a catering, craft, or gourmet restaurant business.Do concession carts and food trucks differ?
The exact differences between carts and food preparation and custom food trucks will differ between each state and local region. One fundamental difference between the mobile food service options is that food trucks are motorized and travel under their own power, while a vending cart must be pushed or towed. A mobile food kitchen will also have preparation and disposal facilities, while sandwich or hot dog carts carry and store premade food at controlled temperatures, such as frozen ice cream.
- Event grills and sinks can be towed to an event and used for hot dogs and burgers.
- Popcorn and cotton candy carts and kiosks can accommodate one to two operators.
- Vending trailers can come with or without cooking and cleaning devices.
- Smaller food trailers can be towed by pickup trucks or cars.
Some concession food trailers include an awning, basic kitchen and cooking devices, wheels, and a towing hitch. Barbecue competition trailers should include a smoker, grill, and clean-up, storage and preparation areas. Specialized cuisine trailers can include pizza ovens, popcorn poppers, ice cream machines, and cotton candy makers.
- A custom food truck able to cater breakfast, lunch, and dinner to an event crowd can have an 11- to 14-foot interior length.
- At a minimum, the vehicle should contain washing sinks and gray water storage.
- A small food truck catering setup may not contain refrigeration, deep fryers, or grills.
The size and type of truck chassis varies depending on the type of catering or vending business. Some coffee and pastry setups are built on a heavy-duty pickup truck chassis. A burger bus which will hold a fryer, grill, several employees, and serve a lot of people, is built on a bus or long RV chassis. Intermediate-sized trucks are built on utility van chassis and smaller RV chassis.Do food carts or kiosks have NSF certificates?
The NSF is a food preparation safety organization that rates and certifies food preparation equipment. Devices and hardware inside the cart, trailer, or kiosk may be certified as safe by the NSF.