Taking Your Successful Storefront Restaurant To The Streets? How Should You Outfit Your First Food Truck?
With relatively low financial barriers to entry and the ability to travel to where the crowds are, the food truck industry has been booming during recent years, even when many new restaurants continue to struggle. If you already have a successful storefront restaurant and are interested in taking your cooking game to the next level, you may have considered purchasing and outfitting a food truck that can help you expand your customer base. However, scaling a full-service restaurant to fit in the back of a small box truck can be easier said than done. Where should you begin when choosing restaurant equipment and supplies for your company's food truck? Read on to learn more about the must-have ingredients for food truck success.
Adequate and compact refrigeration
Having a freestanding restaurant in addition to a food truck can provide you with a number of advantages over your competitors, and one of the chief advantages is access to industrial refrigerators and freezers. Because it can be difficult to predict day-to-day sales volume for a food truck, food that can't be preserved or saved until the next day is often thrown out—but the ability to refrigerate this food at your storefront restaurant and even use it for meals served in this restaurant can take away one of the main complicating factors for many food truck restaurateurs.
However, in addition to your restaurant's existing refrigerators and freezers, you'll want at least one compact and portable combination refrigerator and deep freezer that can keep your food at the coldest possible temperature for hours at a time. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you must either drive back to your restaurant (and away from waiting customers) to get your ingredients to a refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling.
Depending upon how you plan to supply power to your food truck, you may also want to consider a backup energy source to ensure your refrigeration doesn't fail at the worst possible moment. Keeping extra generator fuel or even a battery backup on hand can keep your refrigerator humming along even when everything that could go wrong does.
Ergonomic prepping stations
Having the extra preparation space of a storefront restaurant is also a tremendous advantage when it comes to getting your food truck ready for a long, busy day. Rather than spending time in ultra-cramped quarters attempting to make a high-quality meal, you'll be able to prepare and assemble ingredients ahead of time so that you can cook to order, assembly-line style, rather than starting from scratch with each customer.
Even with much of your ingredient preparation already done, you'll want to design your truck to include some ergonomic preparation stations to allow you to take orders and serve customers more quickly. A prepping station can be as simple as a table that folds into the wall when not in use, but can be a major source of help when it comes to handling big orders and busy periods.
Working in a hot kitchen during the summer months can be an unpleasant experiment in temperature extremes; compressing a full-scale kitchen into a food truck whose peak season generally runs from spring to fall only exacerbates your risk of heat stroke or other heat-related issues.
If you plan to run an oven in your food truck or travel during the summer months, you'll want to invest in some heavy-duty fans to help ventilate hot air. Alternatively, you could install a "zone" air conditioning system that will ventilate cool air directly onto the spots where you and any fellow food truck chefs will be standing. Either method should be successful in dissipating the heat and minimizing the risk that your customers' food will literally contain your sweat (if not blood and tears).