Starting a Food Truck – ROAM Conference Boot Camp

Food Carts Portland

So you want to open up a food truck or cart? Good for you!

There’s so many items that go into opening a mobile food business: finding and buying a unit, customizing it, permits and fees, menu and concept development, food production, staffing, pricing, marketing, accounting…the list goes on and on.

Roam Conference will feature both a special half day Start-Up Bootcamp for those interested in starting a mobile food business, but will also feature key education tracks including a business 101 track. The chance to meet with experts, network for peer support, and Roam’s education could mean the difference between making expensive mistakes on your own, or a smooth launch and ongoing success.

One thing all aspiring mobile vendors should check out is this excellent article looking at the economics of running a food truck. A Day in the Life of a Food Truck.

There’s also this great video showing a day in the life of a mobile vendor in Ohio:

Register here for Roam Conference, September 13-15, 2013

Tips for a Successful Business on Wheels

Food Carts Portland

Making a result-oriented business strategy and implementing it correctly is the best way to overcome unforeseen business difficulties. When it comes to starting a successful business on wheels and catering to food lovers of all kinds with a food vehicle, every new business person needs some tips for doing well and surviving confidently. These tips can help people in new ventures understand things easily and know what is right and what is wrong for them. Some of the valuable tips include:

  • To start and run your business easier, you should start with selective food items that you can prepare well and expend further. Generally, people make a mistake and make their menu heavy with different food items that they don’t know how to cook or prepare well.
  • If you have made a food cart or trailer business plan, review it to make sure that it matches your business needs. Also make sure that you leave no key area untouched.
  • Stick to a few regular locations than multiple locations for running your business on wheels. Generally, food cart and concession owners make a mistake and operate their business from multiple locations to boost the sales. It can be fatal to the growth and expansion of business because successful food trucks spend  vast majority of time in a few locations.
  • Always make a plan for the whole day so that you can easily execute and take things under your control. The daily or weekly plan helps you know things better.
  • When it comes to competition, prepare a list of popular foods that are sold by other food cart vendors and work accordingly. It will be extremely beneficial if you can taste the food items of your competitors. It will help you know what makes them popular. You can also link yourself to various social media sites to know latest food trends in mobile food business.
  • Set a weekly time in your notebook to deal with business needs such as paying of taxes, maintaining book-keeping and paying bills. If you don’t do it, you can make things harder for yourself.
  • Being a newcomer in the industry, you need to be aware of local restaurant owners, and other food cart or food trailer owners who can make things difficult for you. You need to do your best to avoid messing up with them!

This is a sponsored post by Cart-King. Cart-King has been in business for 15 years. For further information about their food cart, food trailer and design and manufacturing capabilities, please call: 1-877-986-7771 or visit our website @ Cart-King.com

Hours of Operation. Hours of Frustration.

Food Carts Portland

I’ve tried to visit this cart but they are never open!  The hours posted on your website are wrong! I drove all the way from Scappoose and all the other carts were open, but this cart was closed!

Cart diners: What do you think? Is this a big issue for you when dining at carts and what do you think carts can do to be better about it?

Business owners: How important is keeping regular business hours and how do you let people know when you are going to be closed, or when you change your business hours? What challenges do you face in keeping and communicating your schedules?

We’ve been running Food Carts Portland since 2007, and have just about seen and heard every question, comment, compliment and complaint out there about the carts. But the number one gripe we continue to receive from readers to our website, Facebook page and Twitter? Food Carts’ Hours of Operation.

There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to visit a specific cart and making the haul out there only to find out their posted hours on our website have changed or for some unknown reason they are closed.  Or, assuming a cart keeps hours similar to other carts, or for some carts even keep regular open hours (a few very much do not). Trust us, it’s our frustration as well. This is especially true when a cart contacts us to give them a write up, we ask when they are open, and then go out there only to find a big old CLOSED sign up. We know of more than a few carts that have lost fans and customers – permanently – because of this issue.

On the flipside, we understand and respect the cart owners’ issues and limited resources. More than any other businesses we know of, food carts follow supply and demand quickly and accordingly. If it’s a rainy, cold Sunday in June and only one person has stopped by, a cart will decide Sundays are no longer feasible. Heck, some of them just close up that day if there aren’t any customers. Makes sense. Why waste valuable time and money? And yes, hours do change depending on the seasons, locations, and amount of resources a cart owner has. Some are solo operations – if an owner gets ill, that’s it, there is no backup. Or, if something in the cart breaks and they can’t operate until a special piece of equipment is fixed and the parts for it are available. Or, a worker flakes, suddenly quits, or otherwise can’t be there and the owner runs another cart or has a catering gig or something, well, we are out of luck again. Of course, Food Carts Portland tries, but we can’t be at all 450 plus food carts to get updated hours on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. We rely on cart owners and cart eaters to let us know and even then, it is a challenge.

Yes, some carts are more professional than others, keeping everyone abreast of their hours on their websites, twitter updates and even email lists. And others? Well, let’s just be kind and call these “starter businesses”. They are still learning the fundamentals of marketing, business communications, and what it takes on a daily basis to run a business and are stretched thin in time, money and other resources. Some don’t speak English, have smart phones, or know how to use social media, and this makes communications a challenge. Some simply don’t have the money to hire more workers, and some are just starting out and have mechanical and other problems. But yes, some carts are simply flakey.

Business owners: If your hours change, simply drop us a line at FoodCartsPorland@gmail.com. We won’t publish last minute schedule changes or closures; that’s when social media can help you. Get a Facebook page and Twitter account. Get a website that’s easy to update and keep it updated. Try, try, try to keep regular hours. It’s important for your reputation, in gaining and keeping loyal customers, and your livelihood overall.

Our advice to diners? If you are really, really craving a certain cart CALL AHEAD right before you visit. Or, just take it in stride and look at it as an adventure. Have a back up cart plan. And do let us know when a cart changes posted hours by email us here. It really helps us keep this site updated and correct.

Happy Carting,

The Food Carts Portland Team.

Meetup at Mississippi Marketplace – Saturday

Food Carts Portland

Hey everyone, we’re having a little get together at Mississippi Marketplace this Saturday. Our hope is that you’ll want to come out, try some amazing food, maybe a beer from PROST! and say hi to me (Dieselboi) and Cuisine Bonne Femme. We have a bonus for you also. The first 50 people to come say “Hi” will get a free cupcake from The Sugar Cube, an amazing dessert cart in the pod. We’ll be the ones with the balloons.

Mississippi Marketplace is located at the corner of N Mississippi and Skidmore and is the host to nine food carts that serve a range of dishes from breakfast to lunch to dinner. Anchored by PROST!, a German pub, you can enjoy your cart food while imbibing a tasty German beverage.

Hope to see you there.

Food Carts Portland Meetup
Saturday, March 20, 2-4pm
Mississippi Marketplace, N Mississippi and Skidmore
Rain or Shine (they have awnings)

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Taste of Poland

Food Carts Portland

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont

The Story:

A new cart has arrived at SW 5th and Oak where another cart left an opening. That seems to be the story of Portland’s food carts. There is always someone wanting to fill an empty spot. Taste of Poland isn’t a brand new cart though. They have just returned to the lot where they called home just a couple of years ago. And we’re glad they did.

Dionizy Baron, the chef behind Taste of Poland, has been a fixture around Portland for years. He has served us his tasty Polish dishes at Saturday market, different community events and even at a couple of the mall food courts. He was a fixture at SW 5th and Oak and down by PSU for years before moving to Saturday market as his primary location. [Read more...]

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