Food carts are becoming one of the most popular ways for people to eat out. Many established restaurants are even using food carts to take advantage of the trend and reach new customers. Identifying the right equipment for a food cart business, especially one aimed at catering to events, can be a difficult job, with a lot of options to choose from and a number of factors to consider. Here, we are going to try and make things a little easier, and help you find the right tools for the job.
Pick a Power Source
One of the factors that will influence all the decisions you make about your food cart will be the power source you use. This may not just be for cooking, as even running a cart selling pre-made refreshments will need refrigeration that uses energy too. If you will be cooking, are you planning on using gas? Gas offers a chef excellent temperature control and instant heat, but comes with many safety concerns, particularly when operating a mobile kitchen. Using electricity as a power source can offer convenience and adaptability, but will require batteries to be kept charged, or a noisy generator. Choosing a fuel source and the equipment it requires provides a base for you to build from, and helps determine what other equipment you will need.
The thing that makes a cart special is its mobility. All the equipment you use and your food stock needs to fit in or on the cart so you can move with customer demand as it crosses your town. Operating a successful food cart will require you to have a place for everything, and if it doesn’t fit somewhere, it will have to be left behind. Finding multiple uses for the same thing can help cut down on clutter and keep down costs as well. The size of your food cart itself is a decision that will need to be made, considering not just your equipment demands but also the demands of your market. If your food cart is too small to satisfy demand, you won’t be able to service enough customers. Too large, and you increase your business’s overhead without the sales to compensate.
Know Your Market
To get the right equipment for the job, you are going to need to know what job you are doing. When you begin catering events, it is probably helpful to centre your business around a few popular favourites that are easy to get right and can be achieved with a single, versatile cart. Tea, coffee and water are always popular refreshments to offer at all times of day, and would suit a casual event cart. By making a few simple additions to this, like a single hot plate or a freezer, you could add items like crepes and ice cream and offer a lot of options from a few ingredients. A company like Woofemdown carts for example, has used versatility like this to great effect and rave reviews.
Search High and Low
Finding the right equipment for your food cart will require a lot of searching, but it will be worthwhile. A business on this scale cannot afford to waste money on equipment that is a compromise. It is worth going further to find the right tools for the job, so searching the internet as well as local suppliers is a must. There are many niche manufacturers online who often make products specific to this type of market, and just small kitchens in general. You might be tempted to spend money with dedicated catering suppliers, but have you thought of looking at equipment meant for camping trips and recreational vehicles? Campers are a group of people who face similar problems, and it is a sector full of established brands offering equipment that has the versatility you need.
Catering for events with a food cart is a great way to get involved with food while also earning some financial independence. With the right equipment and the culinary skill, you can follow a passion and turn it into profit, while having a lot of fun at the same time. Keep this guide in mind when equipping your cart.