If you run a successful restaurant, you and your team have all the skills you need to make a huge success of it on the road. Starting a food truck this summer will help you drum up interest in your business outside of your usual clientele and boost your growth. If you land a pitch at a festival, it will also help you establish your brand on a national stage — perfect for restaurants trying to expand across the UK.
So, read on to find out exactly how to take your restaurant on the road this summer and make the most out of the great British weather.
What do you need to take your restaurant on the road?
Before you can start serving up your cuisine on the streets or at a festival, you’ll need to invest in a bit of kit.
If you want to hit the lunchtime rush at a local business park, you’re going to need a food truck to dish up from. These can come in many shapes and sizes, from repurposed motor homes to custom camper vans.
If you’re serious about making this a permanent arm of your business, you might want to splash out on a purpose-built truck that will serve you for years to come. However, if this is a bit of an experiment for you, it’s a good idea to pick up a second-hand food truck and get it decorated with your branding, as this will keep costs down. Scour eBay and Gumtree to find great deals on a pre-owned truck you can repurpose — or, if you’re lucky, a ready-made food truck you can move straight into or even rent for the summer.
It’s crucial that the food you serve to customers on the street is just as good as what you dish up in your restaurant. If not, the plan might backfire and you could damage your brand. To do this, you’ll need to prepare everything fresh on-site, meaning you’ll need to pick up some top-quality portable appliances — the range of commercial cooking equipment at Alliance should include everything you need.
What licenses do you need to take your restaurant on the road?
As a restaurant owner, you’ll be well aware that you can’t just set up shop and start serving people food without having the right licences in place.
Alongside your existing food business registration, you’ll need to apply for a street trading licence from the local council at least 28 days before you begin trading as a street food vendor. You can apply for a street trading licence online.
Any gas-powered cooking equipment you use on your food truck needs to be gas-safety compliant, while electric appliances need to undergo portable appliance testing (PAT) every year. You also need to provide hot-water hand-washing facilities, as well as the requisite fire-fighting equipment — find out what your responsibilities are on the government website.
Before you take your restaurant on the road, you’re also strongly advised to join the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), as a membership includes liability protection up to £10 million.
Where should you set up your portable restaurant?
Once you’ve got your food truck set up and all your licences in place, it’s time to pick a spot to set up stall and start serving your cuisine. But where’s the best place for the mobile division of your restaurant?
If your goal is to drum up local interest in your physical restaurant, it’s a good idea to pitch up in a spot that’s going to see plenty of footfall. Try contacting all the local business parks and get them to spread the word you’ll be in the car park on a certain day during lunchtime.
On weekends, try to nab a spot that’s going to see plenty of footfall near the local high street or a retail park. It can be a good idea to hand out a voucher for a discounted meal at your restaurant alongside every meal, as that will really help get more customers through your door.
If you’re thinking about growing your brand nationally, it’s a good idea to take a different approach when you take your restaurant on the road. For tens of thousands of Brits, summer means one thing: festivals. By landing a spot at one of the summer’s major music events, you can help establish a national presence and set your brand up for success across the country. You can also make some fantastic profits, with festival-goers often happy to pay big prices to try new and interesting foods when they refuel between bands.
So, there you have it: everything you need to know to take your restaurant on the road this summer. Stick to this advice and you’re sure to build a strong following wherever you set up — not to mention a healthy profit.