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Mobile kitchens, also known as catering and food trucks, are a type of food business that operates by going to different locations throughout the year. Various types of food, from ice cream to sandwiches, are sold by mobile food kitchens, and they can be found all across the country. Starting a mobile kitchen business is less risky than opening a full restaurant, as the start-up expenses are much lower. To grow a successful mobile kitchen business, there are several things you should consider.
Sell a specific type of food. The space you have to cook and sell from will be quite small, so you should specialize in a certain niche. For instance, you can sell cupcakes, tacos, gourmet hot dogs, crepes or burgers.
Contact your state's department of health to determine what permits and certifications you will need to legally operate a mobile kitchen, as well as which areas in town you're allowed to sell in. Depending on where your business is located, you may need a food enterprise license, tax permit, food handler permit or food manager certification.
Rent or buy a mobile kitchen. There are several kinds available, and what you get should be determined by the amount of space you need and the type of vehicle you want to use. Most mobile kitchens are large trucks.
Develop a menu of items that can be eaten without sitting down; as you are operating a mobile kitchen, you won't have any seating for your customers. For example, instead of selling steaks, you can sell steak sandwiches or steak wraps.
Source your food ingredients locally, if at all possible. Doing so will lower your operating costs, since you will not have to pay as much to ship and transport the food you use.
Buy wholesale napkins, cups, plates and utensils instead of paying full retail price. You will save money in the long run doing this, especially since mobile kitchens tend to use a large number of these items.
Promote your mobile kitchen business. Let customers know where you are each day via your blog or social networking accounts. Put up large, attractive signage and menu boards and offer samples to people passing by.
Earn extra revenue year-round by vending at city fairs, carnivals, car shows, flea markets or farmers markets.
Melinda Gaines has been a freelance writer since 2006, with work appearing online for YellowPages and other websites. Her areas of expertise include business, beauty, fashion and sports. Gaines attended the University of Houston where she earned a Bachelor of Science in sport administration.