Beyond Food Trucks and Catering: Exploring Mobile Food Business

Opening a restaurant could be quite expensive. Apart from that, there are so many things to consider such as location, rent or building space, decorating/remodeling, constructions, equipment, staff, marketing, and raw materials. In fact, according to a survey, the median cost of opening a restaurant is at $275,000 if you’re renting, and could jack up to $425,000 if you owning the building is.

But if you’re determined to go into the food business, but don’t have the capital or is still hesitant to invest so much, why not start smaller? Why not go mobile? Of course “food trucks” or “catering” would first come to mind, but there’s still the cost of buying and remodeling a truck, or the effort and time to finda supplier with the best commercial catering equipment and ingredients, among others.

Let’s go beyond these, and explore other mobile food options would be able to give showcase your food to a large audience:

Delivery Only Kitchens

As it implies, it’s a kitchen that has no sitting space and doesn’t necessarily go out and cater, but just takes a customer’s order, cooks, and has the food delivered. This is, without a doubt, the cheapest option. You wouldn’t even have to buy a delivery vehicle; the rise of online food delivery businesses and applications has made it possible for delivery-only kitchens to thrive.

A rare (and odd) variation of this would be the pickup-only kitchen that purposely doesn’t deliver, and obliges the customer to pick the food up themselves. The peculiarity of this business design is its marketing campaign.


woman standing in front of food kiosk

These temporary booths and stands aren’t exactly new. Visit any fair, festival, or theme park, and you’d see kiosks selling snacks and desserts. Kiosks limit your cooking space, thus limiting your equipment and food offerings as well, so you may be required to pick and specialize your menu or prepare the food in advance. And, if all goes well, perhaps you can move on to the next stage and put your food business on wheels.

Food Carts and Trailers

Food Carts give you more mobility than a kiosk but are smaller and less costly than food trucks. Food carts and trailers operate almost the same as kiosks and are either pushed by hand (carts) or attached and pulled by vehicles.

Portable Restaurants

Unlike the rest on the list, this might be more expensive than a food truck and less than a restaurant. But the sheer uniqueness of this concept makes it worth mentioning. The so-called “Bustaurants” is one level up from a food truck as it allows customers to sit, order, and eat like any restaurants. They’re often remodeled double-decker buses with the first level being the kitchen, and the upper level is the dining area. The novelty value of the “bustaurant” could even be a better advantage than just mobility. In this day and age of social media, people would flock to find and take pictures of your bustaurant — that’s free viral marketing right there.

These mobile food businesses can help you bring your brand and cooking to a wider market, and are cheaper than opening up a restaurant except for the last one. But remember, whatever type of mobile food business you choose to bring your cuisine to your customers, it’s the food that matters.

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