If you've always dreamed of owning your own restaurant, there can be some real financial advantages to starting with a food truck, primarily because the initial investment is a fraction of opening a restaurant.
Open Forum recently looked at the costs and, depending on a city and space, brick and mortar spots start around $125,000, whereas a food truck could be as low as $30,000. But, the intrinsic value of a food truck is the opportunity to test your product and different neighborhoods before investing in expensive real estate.
Regardless of what road it may lead to, the food truck business is a tough one. Daily expenses just to keep things moving rack up quickly, like gas, mechanical repairs for both the truck and equipment, weather (you lose money when it rains) and fees for permits and parking.
Then, there are the long hours and tiring work in small, tight, often hot spaces.
The girls who run Easy Slider food truck shed a little light on the issue. I prompted them with this question: Suppose your little sister came to you and said she wants to start a food truck, after you tell her about all the riches and fame that await her, what advice would you give her?
"First and foremost," started Miley Holmes, "anyone who thinks that running a food truck will lead to riches is fooling themselves! The biggest misconception about this business is that it's a way to get rich quick. Margins are tight, space is limited and the market is unpredictable. So, the reality is that you are never going to make a fortune from running a food truck."
She goes on to propose that running a food truck is some of the hardest work there is. Days start early and end anywhere between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. (the after-club crowd is usually a hungry crew).
"People forget that we've been prepping for hours before our doors open," Holmes said, "and we spend hours cleaning after we're closed. And we do it all two or three times a day, sometimes 14 or 15 days in a row!"
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"There is no such thing as time off," Holmes said, "just time off the truck. We're constantly emailing, making phone calls or sourcing product."
Then, there's maintenance, repairs and a lot time checking weather updates.
"All in all, it is a lot of fun and it is very rewarding, but my number one piece of advice is to have an end goal," Holmes said. "On that note, know anyone who wants to buy us a restaurant?"