Owning a hot dog cart can be a very fun and rewarding business. It can also be very lucrative. Hot dog carts provide a means for people to own their business and work their own hours. The state of Florida, with its high volume of tourists throughout the year, can be a very profitable place to open a hot dog cart. Learning the rules and regulations is the first step in getting started in your hot dog business.
The very first thing you need to consider is that Florida requires all mobile food vendors to use a commissary. A commissary is a place where the vendor stores and prepares food and cleans utensils. The commissary must be a licensed food service establishment. The commissary may not be a private residence. You can satisfy this requirement by using a local restaurant or grocery store that has made provisions for commissary services such as an approved cleaning area for carts.
Florida requires each mobile food vendor, including hot dog cart vendors, to submit a plan for their mobile food cart. The plan must demonstrate you have an agreement with a commissary and provide proof that the commissary has potable water and a system for disposing of waste water. The plan must also include a scale drawing of your cart. The plan must be submitted to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, along with a $150 fee, in 2011, for plan reviews and processing. A guide for a mobile food vendor plans can be found by visiting myFloridaLicense.com.
Once the plan has been approved, you must apply for a mobile food vendor's license. In order to receive the license, a cart vendor must show that a certified food manager will be responsible for operations at all times. Information regarding becoming a certified food manager is available by visiting the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website. A vendor must also pay a licensing fee, which will vary depending on where in the state you are located. Additionally, you may required to obtain a separate license from the county in which you are operating. Visit the county's website to determine if a separate license is required in your county.
There are several rules one must familiar with once the hot dog cart is operational, as a vendor is subject to inspection. Failure to adhere to the rules could result in the loss of licensure. These rules are governed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A full list of rules is available by visiting the department's website, freshFromFlorida.com. Vendors must refrain from touching ready-to-eat food food with their hands, and each vending cart must have adequate refrigeration and heating equipment to keep and prepare food properly. All food sold must be safe for human consumption. The hot dog cart must provide sufficient protection from the elements, such as an umbrella or other mechanism to keep rain and wind from harming the food and covers for all bulk dispensers of beverages.