Funnel cakes, those ubiquitous lacy, fried-batter discs dusted with powdered sugar and served up at baseball games -- represent an entrepreneur's opportunity to cash in on a perennial crowd-pleaser. The raw materials and gadgets involved are neither fancy nor forbiddingly expensive, but you must comply with state and local laws and ordinances.
Choose a Venue -- or Venues
According to fairs and festivals industry resource FairsandFestivals.net, fun and comforting funnel cakes are in demand even during recessions. To capture this market, you'll have to scope out locations such as seasonal fairs and carnivals, as well as school sporting events. The website suggests focusing on outdoor events, including football and soccer games, for a more continuous income stream. However, be sure to get permission from the schools in question before slinging your fried treats.
You will need several key items to make funnel cakes on a concession basis. A fryer should be large enough to accommodate at least two funnel cakes at a time for faster service. Choose between gas or electric models, the latter being more economical but less portable. Also acquire funnel cake rings or molds to retain the shape of the fritter as it is being poured, a pitcher with a funnel tip, tongs, industrial oil such as block shortening, batter mix, paper plates and utensils.
Get Permits and Licenses
Contact your state, city and county licensing authorities to find out what permits you must obtain in order to operate as a funnel cake concession. You may have to acquire permits for every district in which you operate a stand. Obtain a sales tax permit from your state, as well as an employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service. Register for any business licenses or mobile food kitchen licenses as required by your jurisdictions and pay the associated fees.
Observe Sanitation Rules
You will be inspected by your local or state health department before the concession stand opens and on an ongoing basis thereafter. You must also observe the safety regulations of your state. In North Carolina, for example, the Department of Health sets rules for temporary food establishments in the areas of food handling, employees, physical specifications and equipment. Make note of specific rules for pushcarts and mobile food units if they apply to you.