Food trucks are more popular than ever – with more and more popping up around towns all over the U.S. every day. Most cities, Orlando included, host food truck bazaars and festivals in which a fleet of food trucks group in a single area to create a unique, mobile food festival. Food trucks come in all flavors and colors – from tacos trucks to mobile cupcake boutiques. Face it, people like variety when it comes to what they put down their throat.
If you’ve been thinking about start up your very own food truck and dominating the streets of your city or town, there are a few legal things you will have to be aware and get taken care of before you serve up your first dish to the starving masses. The permits and requirements you need are not that different than opening up a standard brick and mortar restaurant.
Whether you are going to be serving tacos, ice cream, cupcakes, hummus, nachos, etc., you’re going to need a grip of equipment. Equipment needs you are going to need power sources. A lot of trucks use a portable generator to give power to the coolers, freezers, hood, and lights. Gas canisters can be mounted at the rear of the vehicle to provide power to the fryers, grills, etc. Freshwater tanks will need to be installed to supply and store water for your sinks. A reliable hot water heater is a must for warewashing.
Since you are going to be serving food to the public, the first thing you need is a Foodservice permit. This can be obtained from your local county health department. Here in Orlando, the county Health department is located at 832 West Central Blvd., and can be reached at (407) 836-2600.You can prepare the food wherever you like, as long as you’re doing so in accordance with the established health code standards and in a sanitary facility.
With that said, your local health department will most likely require you to have a hand wash sink and a three compartment sink with ample drain boards. When choosing your sink, be sure that it’s large enough to submerge your largest cooking utensil. Also be sure you have a water heater with the capability of producing 140F water at all times. Your work surfaces should be non-porous and refrigeration will need to be up to your local health codes.
On the subject of health codes, remember that all of the same health regulations that are required in your standard brick and mortar restaurant also apply to food trucks. Many pieces of commercial restaurant equipment such as fryers and grills require a ventilated grease hood with a fire suppression system. To be thorough and to avoid delays in passing health inspection, double check your local fire codes to be sure on the specs that you’re going to have to follow.
Once you’ve got all your permits and are ready to roll, make sure you give your food truck some personality. Vibrant colors, a sweet logo, a pun-fueled name, etc. These food trucks develop actual fan bases that will follow them wherever they go. More like groupies, really. So have fun with your food truck!
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