It's true - starting a street food business is cheaper than setting up a fully-fledged brick and mortar restaurant. But expenses rack up quickly, even if you're operating a street food stand or truck, so it's important to consider gazebo/truck, transport, equipment and compliance costs before you hit the street with your dishes.
Gazebo vs Truck
One of the first big decisions you will face is whether you want to sell your food from a gazebo stall or out of a food truck. Trucks definitely have their advantages – they’re mobile, and a vibrant, eye-catching design and graphics can be very effective at attracting customers. But the costs of buying your food truck, fitting it out and ongoing maintenance are high. Food trucks are risky investments - if your truck breaks down, your business is stranded since your whole setup is fixed into the vehicle, and the costs of updating the fit out of your truck over time to adapt to changing business needs are high.
A gazebo and transport van setup offers more flexibility and reduces risk. If your van happens to break down one day, you can move your equipment and food to another vehicle and make it to the market to sell. If your cooking equipment fails, it's easily replaceable. If you need to add a fryer for those high margin French fries, all you need to do is pack a fryer in your van, instead of paying a hefty installation fee and figuring out how you're going to fit new equipment inside your maxed-out food truck in the first place. It's also much easier to find parking for your gazebo van at tightly-packed venues; with a truck, you might find yourself in a less than ideal pitch location simply because your truck doesn't fit anywhere else.
If you're dying to go down the food truck route, a used truck will set you back in excess of £5000 with the same again on the fit-out.
When starting a business, we think the most cost effective and flexible options are often the best one, which is why we recommend going down the gazebo-van route.
The estimates below are based on the gazebo-van model, though some of the costs will be the same even if you decide to go down the truck route.
- A second-hand van for transporting all equipment to and from venues - £2000
- Van insurance - £80 / month
- Fuel - £15 / 100 miles
- Vehicles registered before 2002 could incur the London Emissions Zone tax - use the LEZ vehicle checker before you buy your van.
- From April 2019 driving to markets within the London Congestion Zone may incur the Ultra Low Emissions Zone tax - £12.50 / day
- Pop-up prep and serving counter - £150 - Surfturf
- Griddle (e.g. Parry PGF1000G or Lincat GS4/P LPG) - £500 - £800 - NCASS or Catering Appliance Store
- Fryer (e.g Lincat DF4/P LPG) - £900 - NCASS or Catering Appliance Store
- Hand wash equipment (e.g. Teal Handyman) - £150 - Tealwash
- Tools (gas spanner, drill, screwdrivers, chalk pens, masking tape) - £100 - Screwfix
- Quicksafe Gas Equipment and fittings - £400 - NCASS
- Calor Gas Bottle (13kg) - £30 / month - Calor or London Gases
Safety & Compliance
- Gas Safety Certification - £15 / appliance / year - NCASS
- First Aid Kit - £20 - Nisbets
- First Aid Training - £200 - First Aid Training London
- NCASS Membership - £240 / year - NCASS
- Fire blankets and extinguisher - £75 - Safelincs
- Operating insurance - £30 / month - NCASS Insurance or MovingFood
Note: None of the suppliers listed above have paid hawkker or have any commercial relationship with hawkker, these are just commonly used suppliers within the industry.