The benefits of mobile kitchens
Mobile kitchens offer many opportunities for restaurants looking for an extra seasonal point of sale. There is no shortage of options when it comes to street food: food trucks, food stands, off-premise counters with a reduced menu, concession stands in pedestrian areas, and much more.
The possibilities depend on your location, resources, and your city’s regulations! If you want to make the most of this trend, take advantage of Chef Thauberger’s tips and professional experience.
Why launch a mobile kitchen?
- Reach a younger clientele. Food trucks are particularly popular with millennials, who represent half of their clientele.1
- Reach a larger customer base, consequently attracting more clients. By taking part in a food festival, for example, your restaurant could benefit from its visibility.
- Test new dishes on diners that are more receptive: 80% of street food consumers choose this type of concept to enjoy a unique and original experience.2 It’s the perfect time to be creative!
What customers look for in street food menus
- These cheeses are most widely used in food trucks: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack and Poutine curds.3
- Poutine appetizers, chicken sandwiches and hot dogs are dishes that are favoured by customers.4
- Meatless dishes are popular,5 especially vegan and vegetarian cheeseburgers.
- International flavours and mashups are also in favour when it comes to street food. Chefs can combine two recipes, types of cuisines, or different dayparts to create unique dishes, like these mashup inspirations.
- Takeout-friendly dishes. Think calzones, grilled cheeses, sandwiches, gyros, seafood rolls, brochettes, pizza slices, and other easy-to-carry formats.
Create lunchboxes for students or office employees that can be ordered in advance and picked up from your mobile kitchen counter. If you’re close to a park, you could also offer picnic boxes. These two options can be prepared in advance outside rush hours, saving you preparation time on site.
5 key steps to selling street food
1. Determine your budget
What equipment do you already have and which ones will you need? Also, consider maintenance costs. Assess your needs, your resources, and the advantages of each mobile-kitchen format.
2. Get informed on local regulations and permits
With the right information, you can make sure that your project is doable and in order. For example, ask about parking permits and standards regarding your food truck’s ventilation system. For more information, you can check out organizations such as the Association des restaurateurs de rue du Québec (website in French only) or the StreetFood Vancouver Society.
3. Think about available space
Depending on whether you choose a food stand or a food truck, you might not serve the same number of dishes. Assess your environment: how much available space do you have for ovens, fryers, or fridges?
4. Adapt your menu to street food sale
Save money by reusing ingredients that are already part of your restaurant’s menu! This strategy helps minimize losses and consolidate purchases while establishing a thread among your different points of sale. It’s a plus when customers recognize your signature flavours!
Favour dishes that are takeout-friendly and can be eaten on the go. For example, if you serve pizzas, transform your recipes into calzones or strombolis. Deconstruct some of your menu options, for instance, the Ricotta polpette from this pasta inspiration can easily be served as a side dish.
5. Promote your mobile kitchen
By focusing on what sets your food truck or other mobile kitchen apart, you could grab the interest of new customers. For example, you could use social media to highlight your uniqueness: photogenic dishes, location, your truck, or your stand.
In certain cities, there are apps that regroup active mobile kitchens. Specialized apps, such as StreetFoodApp, also pinpoint their location.
Getting started in the street food world requires a lot of preparation. It’s important to consider the labour needed to prepare dishes along with the time required to drive the truck to a location or assemble your food stand. Not all restaurants are suitable for mobile kitchens, which is why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before launching your project!
By choosing a mobile-kitchen formula that’s most suitable to your restaurant and by being creative with your menu, you can benefit from the numerous advantages this trend has to offer.
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1 Bigthink, “Millennials are the Food Truck Generation,” 2016
2 Mobile Cuisine, “Food Truck Industry to grow from 615M to 2.7B in 5 years,” 2012
3 Technomic 2020 Q2 – 2021 Q2
4 Technomic 2020 Q2 – 2021 Q2
5 Food Truck Operator, “Top food trends coming in 2021,” 2021