Building a food truck business from the ground up takes serious dedication, time, and planning. Since food trucks are essentially miniature restaurants on wheels, they need to have much of the same supplies and equipment even though they don’t have the space. Though you’ll first have to decide whether you’re going to roll with a food cart or a full-size food truck, there are several other factors to consider when choosing equipment.
Meticulous planning is necessary in order to properly outfit a food truck, but your hood space, power source, and any health regulations are great places to start. The more ergonomic your food truck is, the more your business will benefit. Before we get into the discussion on power sources, lets’ dive into the equipment you’ll need.
What You’ll Need
Every food truck is different, which is why you shouldn’t just pick a standard setup for your kitchen. Take the time to plan out your food truck’s theme and corresponding menu before you decide what to put in your truck. However, here are some things to consider when it comes to equipment:
A range is an absolute must for pretty much any food truck, but the hard part will be deciding how many burners you’ll need. Most countertop ranges have a minimum of two burners and a maximum of six burners. Though it could be tempting to choose an option with only two burners to save on space, that’s not always the best idea. Instead, think about what you’ll be using them for. If you expect frequent or even heave use of the burners, then you should select a range with at least four burners. You don’t want to slow down your production just because you wanted to save some space.
Fryers are a little more dangerous than most equipment you’ll have in your food truck, so it never hurts to consult your fire safety laws when planning your setup. You’ll need to keep some distance between your fryer and any other equipment that produces an open flame, so keep that in mind as you design your kitchen and shop for a fryer.
If your fryer is essential to your food truck operation, it’s a good idea to invest in a heavy-duty solution. A fryer with multiple baskets can greatly speed up production, and a fryer with separate oil tanks makes it easy to fry different items at the same time.
If your food truck requires a griddle, make sure you have a good ventilation system for catching grease and disposing of smoke and other fumes. Taking the proper fire safety measures can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
There are two griddle types to consider for your food truck: manual and thermostatic. Manual griddles provide several heat settings for the user to choose from, whereas thermostatic griddles offer greater control over the heat. Thermostatic griddles tend to be more expensive, which is always something to consider. One thing to look for is a griddle with higher walls to prevent grease splashing. This can be necessary in a confined space like a food truck.
Whether you’re purchasing a freezer or refrigerator, make sure to first consult your city and state health codes. Your appliance might have to meet certain requirements, and it’s always better to know them before making a purchase. If you’re already running out of space in your food truck, check out some worktop refrigerators. These have a flat top that can be used for storing other appliances or even for food prep.
At this point, your food truck is already getting cramped. However, despite your desire for something with a small footprint, you need a 3-compartment sink. Don’t just purchase the smallest 3-compartment sink you can find, either. Make sure the sink you buy can accommodate the largest piece of kitchenware you’ll have to wash.
Food code stipulates that your food truck have a separate sink specifically for washing hands. Make sure all of your sinks have high enough walls to keep water from splashing out. You don’t want anything getting on your floors, and you definitely don’t want to contaminate any nearby equipment or food items.
Say No to Propane
Though you’ll hear some food truck owners swear by the use of propane for powering their equipment, there are a few great reasons to keep away from it. First, most propane tanks are designed for stationary use and shouldn’t be kept in vehicles. The backs of food trucks really aren’t the safest places for combustible containers, especially those that operate in high-traffic areas. Propane tanks aren’t allowed to be refilled in some metropolitan areas, so they have to be swapped out with full tanks.
Additionally, propane is heavier than air and tends to collect or pool in an area in the event of a leak. When that happens, the propane could ignite and cause an explosion. So, let’s just cross propane off your list for now and focus on gas and electric power sources.
Gas vs. Electric
Gas and electric are two viable power sources for your kitchen, both with their own advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage electric has is it excels at maintaining temperatures. If your food truck depends on your oven holding a temperature for a long period of time, electric could be the way to go. However, electric appliances require a lot of power to run and can really strain your food truck’s generator. In some cases, food trucks might even need two generators to ensure everything is powered properly.
Gas, on the other hand, is a much cheaper source of power than electric. Since it’s so heat efficient, your food can be heated faster without using much gas. It’s prevalence in grocery stores, convenience stores, and hardware stores also means it’s easy to refill your empty tanks.
With gas being plentiful, cheap, and very efficient, more and more food truck owners are choosing it to power their kitchens. Part of the appeal of food trucks is a quick meal, and gas-powered appliances can help you serve more customers in a shorter time span than electric appliances.
If you’ve never owned or operated a food truck before, starting your own business can be daunting. Ultimately, your equipment needs will depend on your menu and your business plan. Make sure you do your research before taking the plunge on any appliances. The more detailed your equipment plan is, the more likely you are to find success for your food truck.