Food trucks offer an endless variety of casual dining options. With consumers’ ever-growing interest in celebrity chefs, trying different cuisines and sampling local food specialties, food trucks offer convenient and easy access to a wide range of dining experiences.

Many first-time entrepreneurs find food trucks to be a lower-cost entry into the restaurant business. Startup costs are reasonable and the business model enables business owners to quickly make sales and begin marketing their distinct menu selection.

Many established restaurants use food trucks to expand and enhance their catering businesses and as a way to market and strengthen their brand in a community. Food trucks also can be a way to test market a new type of cuisine that departs from a restaurant’s traditional fare.

What does it cost to start a food truck business? Depending on the type of equipment and degree of specialization required and the cost of living in a local area, startup costs can range from $40,000 to $250,000,[1] much lower than the cost of opening a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. Some of the specific costs can include[2]:

  • The truck – Equipped trucks are the biggest expense and can run between $40,000 and $200,000. The type of equipment can vary depending on the requirements of the cuisine served. Each state has different regulations for what constitutes a legal mobile food unit, and local communities may have separate standards as well. It’s recommended to begin by getting quotes from food truck manufacturers in your state with the assurance that the food truck will be built properly to code.
  • Food trailers and carts – These options are less expensive than a food truck, but require a truck or car to tow them. Equipped food trailers can range between $30,000 and $50,000, and carts between $20,000 and $25,000. Trailers and carts may require special licensing that should be factored into startup cost.
  • Supplies – A startup budget should include pots and pans, serving utensils, cleaning supplies and serviceware (serving containers, napkins, etc.).
  • Truck commissary – In addition to operating the truck during the day, it will need to be parked overnight with access to electricity, fresh water and propane. Truck commissaries often are adjacent to commercial kitchens where food can be prepared and loaded onto the truck prior to departing for food service.

[1] “How Much Does It Cost to Start a Food Truck Business,” Mobile-Cuisine.com. Blog post available at: http://mobile-cuisine.com/business/cost-to-start-a-food-truck-business/

[2] In addition to the source noted above, information was found in: “How Much Does A Food Truck Cost?”  Open for Business blog post in the Huffington Post, April 3, 2015. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/open-for-business/how-much-does-a-food-truck-cost_b_6996436.html

This news is provided as a service to you by Marlin Business Services Corp., a nationwide leader in commercial lending solutions for the U.S. small business sector. Marlin’s equipment financing and loan programs are available directly and through third-party vendor programs, including manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers, to deliver financing and working capital that help build your success.