Practical Tips

How do you pick a good employee to work in your food truck?

The owner of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in Manhattan recently told Nation’s Restaurant News that not only do his employees have to be “able to steam fresh dumplings, prep all the fresh sides like the green salads and sesame noodle salad, and be able to drive in New York City,” but they also must know how to “handle hot weather days, cold weather days and being harassed by other vendors. Basically, they set up the entire store in the morning and tear it down at night. They also have to be good at not getting tickets. They have to feel very confident in troubleshooting when the truck goes down because so many things can go wrong that we don’t have checklists like we do in the restaurant. Instead, we just tell them to leave the truck how they’d like to pick it up.”

How do you select a lucrative location?

In a three-part article entitled “Behind the scenes with an L.A. Food Truck,” posted on Serious Eats, the owner of the Manila Machine reveals that it is sometimes necessary to send a “staging car” to hold a good spot and that revealing your secrets on Twitter may put you at a disadvantage. “Are there other restaurants in the area? Can you assume that the people in this area will want try your food for the first time? Are there any cops around that may shoo you away even though you are following the letter of the law? Are there other food trucks in the area that may not welcome your presence?” vendors must ask themselves.

Advice for All Aspiring Vendors

Interviewed for a street food profile posted on Serious Eats, the owners of Mom’s Delicious Dishes food truck in Raleigh, NC, had the following words of wisdom:

“Find a good compatible partner! You don’t necessarily have the same skills, but you must have the same goals and drive. It’s like a marriage but worse. You spend lots of time together in a very small space and it’s usually hot. . . . Spend some time on a food truck that’s similar in style to what you hope to create. Create a business plan and add 20 percent more for expenses than expected. Prepare to devote your entire life to a new business for at least one year until you can figure out your trends and establish some benchmarks.”

Thao Beck and Ardath Church update their whereabouts daily on Facebook, Twitter, and their website. They started their business (salads, sandwiches, fish tacos, fresh doughnuts) because they thought that “it would contribute a vibrant new addition to the already interesting food scene” going on in Raleigh. Neither of them has “any desire for a permanent location as the mobility is part of the appeal” of what they offer.

[images from Mom's Delicious Dishes]