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How Much Does it Cost to Start a Food Truck Business

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food truck start up cost

A common question we are asked by our readers relates to food truck start up cost. Due to varied factors that can be used to determine this answer, we typically provide a broad range of $40,000 – $250,000. While it technically answers the question, it’s still a bit broad for someone trying to determine if opening a food truck business is something they can afford, or something they need to get a loan for. Because of this, we have generated this chart to help those interested in joining the mobile food industry.

In the chart, you’ll find three areas; one time start up costs, re-occurring start up costs and costs that vary from area to area. Each of these sections is subdivided by three price ranges; $ = low, $$ = average and $$$ = high for each area.

While this guide should be used as a general group of ranges, it is helpful for those interested in finding how much starting up a food truck business can cost.

Food Truck Business Start Up Costs

$$$$$$
One time start-up costs
Purchasing your food truck500025000125000
Vehicle inspection100300500
Retrofitting and/or bring the truck up to code250004000050000
Generator1500500010000
Register/POS System15012502500
Paint100020003000
Truck wrap250035005000
Initial food purchases50012502000
Utensils and paper goods50010003500
Website design50035007500
Initial office equipment and supplies2005001000
Initial advertising and PR5007501000
Professional, legal and consulting fees50020005000
Reoccurring start-up costs
Payroll150025003500
Commercial kitchen/Commissary rent50015003000
Credit card processing equipment50150500
Fuel250300400
Start-up costs which vary by location
Permits and licensing 50 500 10000
Insurance 300500 1000

Please note:

  • Prices shown are not set in stone, and can change without notice.
  • Prices shown in the reoccurring categories are for 1 week.
  • Prices shown which vary by location are for 1 month.

So what do you think about the cost to start a food truck?

cost to start a food truck

While is may seem like a steep price to start a food truck business, try to compare these costs to that of a brick and mortar restaurant. The high end prices in this chart don’t come close to comparing to starting a small quick service restaurant.

Be sure to keep an eye open for contests. In season three of The Great Food Truck Race, they gave away a food truck to the eventual winners. Talk about a great way to cut your food truck start up cost.

So how much were your food truck start up costs? Let us know in the comment section or drop us a line via our contact page if you would prefer to keep your food truck business start up cost a little more private.
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23 COMMENTS

  1. At Discount Food Trucks we have created a basic truck for
    $50,000 that includes the truck, wrap, equipment and generator geared to keeping the costs affordable and providing an easier opportunity for serious entrepreneurs to enter the Mobile Food Industry. The industry is saturated with overpriced vehicles and we suggest lots of research and shopping before you make your purchase.

    Laura Burrell
    Mobile Food Consultant
    http://www.foodtruckandcartsale.com
    267-738-1656

    • Hi Laura, my parents are planning on NOT renewing their lease in their current place of business and are highly considering running a food truck in the Orange County/LA County areas, in California. Wanted to get some initial advisement as far as what is the best course of action for them. We have a trademarked product that customers go after and we believe this is enough to get us going.

    • Kailash, the website contains a lot of information about food trucks. Probably, the best website that I have found. if anyone knows of another one or better, please let me know.

  2. I would like to know what the average return on the investment is.i have work on food trucks only on an hourly bases and I’m going on my own. I have an investor but what is my prjected annual in come to be stated in my business plan I’m located in Boston ma. If I were to invest 125,000 what is a safe yearly return projection.

    • Tim, forgive the vague answer…I have found that the harder & smarter you work, the more you will earn. Good and unique food is a must.
      Good Luck with your new business.

  3. In general, I would agree that the figures/ranges provided are reasonably accurate, though for the purpose of start-up budgeting, there are a couple of other CRITICAL line items which are not specifically accounted for: (1) Contingency – no matter how accurate your estimates something will ALWAYS cost more than anticipated. After adding all your cost estimates, consider adding a 5-15% of the total as contingency funding. In planning for this, the funds will be available if needed; if not they can be added to your… (2) Capital reserve – Unless VERY lucky, it is unlikely that your net income will hit projected levels on day one of your start up. A reasonable cash reserve must be on hand to get through this slower start-up period until such a time that the business is self-sustaining. One of the primary reasons for business failure is under capitalization. This is particularly true for an owner who plans on taking a regular draw/salary from the business. And on a side note… If relying on this as a sole source of income, put this in as a planned expense on your pro forma P&L. Do NOT assume that you will be able to meet your income needs from the business’ profits.

  4. This is a very good blueprint for what it cost to get a truck up and running. A food trailer can cut some of the cost down, such as fuel, cost of truck, and insurance, but other cost are fixed either way.

    Best to know up front the cost. As for return on investment… This is extremely hard to predict. I would expect to earn 20% to make it worth your time, and risk, but there are no guarantees when you self employed.

  5. 1. Buy Used equipment So many restaurants fail that there is always great equipment for pennies on the dollar. Check bank repos and local auctions.
    2. Consider a used food truck.
    3. Will a cart or trailer work for you? We started with a used crepe cart. Total startup costs under $6,000 including a van. 3 years later we are planning on opening our first brick and mortar.

    • Very good advice Richard.
      Try to buy used and install yourself if possible. However, somethings are best saved for the professionals leaving you time to sell more food!

  6. To Richard foote. Can you tell us more about your experience? What were you selling? Were you in a big city? Who was your target audience – people walking by, at fairs, outside companies? Did you experience any issues getting permits?

    Thank you

  7. I work with business owners in the food truck industry who are looking to finance a truck or trailer. Starting a food truck can be very profitable and my company can assist you with financing if you are serious about owning and operating your own food truck. Give me a call to learn more.

    Kristin Thayer
    CEO, FinCap, LLC
    Direct: 603-369-3461
    Website: https://www.fincapco.com

    Visit our website to apply now – Equipment Financing, Working Capital & Merchant Processing

    “Financial Capital for You and Your Business”

  8. we bought our used truck for 15k and promptly put another 20 into making it meet state codes.We did the labor ourselves, It was just finished yesterday. I have another 6 k in expenses to insure it and run it through the state and stock it.before we can open we have to have a fire inspection, electrical, health dept, state LandI,Gas lines need to be pressure tested and the plumbing inspected. These things all add up, over and above the truck.We did most the work our self but had to pay for professionals to install the fire systems. However we also built a sandwich truck for a friend and the build costs was 5k plus her truck.. As with any thing it truly depends on what your goal is..the costs of the build is a direct reflection of your menu..If you dont know what you are going to serve stop looking at a truck until you figure it out..you may not need a grill and fire suppression if you are only making sandwiches.

  9. […] of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the country’s […]

  10. Do you have to register your business for food truck or just venders permit. The permit from town sayd one or the other not sure what to do

  11. […] of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the […]

  12. […] of dollars. Getting the permit for a food truck, and complying with the various laws, can cost $15,000 at the high end. Regulations in the United States overall cost about 1.5 percent of the […]

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