Jon Favreau’s new indie film “Chef” is one of those rare movie gems with not only witty dialogue, but also a plot that seems to be mimicking a growing real-world scenario. That particular reality is in the paring down of a business to a bare minimum so expenses don’t become impossible and profit is more attainable. The invention of the food truck may have been one of the greatest ever ideas for the restaurant industry. With failure rates of restaurants considered notoriously and continuously high, the idea of serving up food in a small truck while traveling the nation is one that cut out at least half of the expenses dogging most restaurant owners.
While Favreau’s character, Carl Casper, starts his food truck out of necessity due to being fired from an L.A. restaurant, it may be different lately in reality. As word spreads on how profitable food trucks can be, will we see the age of the traditional restaurant wane while food trucks become the norm?
What You Need to Get Started
Chefs who only have experience working in established restaurants may have some initial trepidation on how to start a food truck. They obviously need capital to get started, and it’s usually recommended you buy a truck rather than lease one. The reason is because leasing fees can end up becoming as much of a hassle as paying rent in a building for a brick and mortar restaurant. It’s something to think about seriously before starting a food truck since many companies do lease out trucks for these types of businesses.
One of the worst scenarios for leasing a truck is that many of them just aren’t kept up well. You may have continuous truck breakdowns that can mean not arriving to your destination and ultimately losing money. Kitchens sometimes aren’t maintained either, bringing problems in food preparation and perhaps affecting the quality of the things you serve.
Some companies now sell you your own truck as part of a franchise system. By going this route, you’ll have a properly maintained truck that give you less worry about repair expenses while also making the truck a true investment that will pay back. A truck that’s reliable is going to help you travel to the places you want to go in order to attract the most business. And when parked in the right location around busy places, profits are going to be potentially immense.
General Operating Expenses
When compared with a brick and mortar restaurant, the elimination of certain expenses is truly inspiring. With the elimination of hunting for a building, you can also worry less about designing a kitchen in that same structure. With new food trucks already designed with a kitchen in them, you’re already set up and don’t need to invest in ovens, grills, refrigerators, and freezers as just a few. The same goes with needing to buy tables and chairs since no one sits in your food truck to eat. Most food trucks hang out around events where tables and chairs are already around for people to sit while eating. Since most food trucks make portable food anyway, customers are going to prefer eating something while on the go.
The most major expenses are going to be the basic operation (as in plugging in for electricity), plus fees and permits in being allowed to operate near an event or busy street corner. Even if some of those fees and permits are going to vary in expense depending on how far your travels are, having them set up long in advance will help your road tour in a food truck go as successfully as it does for Carl Caspar in “Chef.”
How Gourmet Can You Be in a Food Truck?
“Chef” gives the idea that a food truck doesn’t have to be about hotdogs and hamburgers. You can still make portable food that’s on a gourmet level. Plus, nobody said you have to serve food that’s only in a wrapper. Adding paper plates and plastic silverware to hand out to people can allow for more elaborate culinary concoctions.
Don’t be surprised to start seeing more gourmet level food trucks in your local towns and cities over the next few years. Since “Chef” will likely only get a limited audience (something that’s also unfortunate), the influence from that film might be minimal. Regardless, the amount of money and potential success food trucks can make now in comparison to the traditional restaurant model is one that’s obvious. As some argue that restaurant failure rates are really lender problems, the general idea that a restaurant is prone to failure may be coming to an end as pared down business alternatives grow exponentially.