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product portioning

tip of the dayProduct portioning is one of the most important facets of developing a profitable food truck. Not only does it affect your food truck’s bottom line, but it also helps build a stronger customer experience.

It affects your guests’ experience, food quality and food cost.

When someone receives a smaller portion of as particular ingredient amount in a menu item (say the protein in a sandwich) as the person standing next to them, customers usually take notice and many will get upset.

During your food prep process, inaccurate quantities of ingredients in recipes will change the food’s flavor and texture. Have you ever heard a regular customer ask, “What did you change in your sauce?”

Now you need to look at the issue of food cost. Consistently over portioning a $5.00 per pound product just half an ounce adds almost 16 cents to the serving cost. Now let’s say you serve 50 or those items a day, that’s $55 lost per week or almost $3,000 in a year and that’s with just ONE product.

Anything you can do to help you and your food truck staff do a better job of portioning is usually money well spent. Do you or your commercial kitchen supply your staff with the appropriate sized cups, scoops and scales? If so, do they consistently use them?

The new scales and slicing equipment that is on the market helps make it easier for faster portioning with much greater accuracy.

Make sure you conduct random testing. If you don’t do this already pull one item off the line each shift and weigh the key ingredients. If something’s not right, you will know right away that something is wrong and you can address the issue immediately.

So how’s the product portioning on your food truck? Any improvement in this area will give you great results in the areas of happy customers, lower food cost and ultimately a healthier bottom line.

Did we miss any areas where product portioning affects a food truck business in today’s Tip of the Day?

If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below or leave us a message on Twitter or Facebook.

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Homeboy Food Truck
Image Credit: lamag.com

LOS ANGELES, CA - Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles-based organization that helps formerly gang-involved and incarcerated Angelenos start new lives, has one of the area’s newest food gourmet trucks. The truck offers food such as salsa and granola that are produced by Homeboy Industries’ entrepreneurial arm, but their focus is chilaquiles.

“We didn’t want to be just another taco truck, so, we thought, since our chilaquiles are what Homegirl Cafe is well known for, we’d do a twist on it,” truck manager and head chef Stephen Barkulis told Los Angeles magazine.

The truck offers new including Tingaquiles with shredded skirt steak slow cooked in chipotle chile, Molequiles with red mole chicken and habeñero pickled onions. For the vegetarians there’s no-meat Veggiequiles.

Chef Barkulis and his three-woman crew are all graduates of the Homegirl Industries’ 18-month training program. He sums up the truck’s purpose this way: “We really want to get out there and further our cause,” Barkulis told Los Angeles magazine.”Because at the heart of all that we’re doing is that we want to change lives.”

Find the entire article at colorlines.com <here>

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food bike

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA - You’ve heard of food trucks and food carts, well how about food bikes?

What’s being billed as North America’s first self-contained, fully operational street food kitchens are making their debut on Kelowna streets this week.

The concept, the brainchild of local entrepreneur Donnie Ungaro, is simple. Have a small, self-contained kitchen attached to a hybrid peddle/electric bicycle and ride it to different locations around the city to preparing high quality food for passersby with the proceeds going to partner charities while employing and training people in need of work as riders/cooks.

“Our  motto is a play on that biblical phrase about teaching a man to fish. Ours is ‘Give a man a meal – he eats for a day. Teach him to cook – he eats for a lifetime,'” said Ungaro as he unveiled the first food bike at one of the three charity partners, Metro Central, on Thursday morning. The two other partners are Soles4Souls and the Kelowna Community Food Bank.

Ungaro said in addition to splitting the profits from each food bike among the three charities – an total amount amount that has been estimated at between $18,000 to $22,000 per seven-month season in Ungaro’s business plan, 20 per cent of the money the company behind the endeavour, Culinary Inc. Kelowna, makes will go to other local charities.

“We want people to know that they can change a life by what they have for lunch,” said Ungaro.

The self-contained kitchens will initially set up outside Metro Central on Water Street downtown and at other downtown locations and will be covered by Metro Central’s patio licence and a general mobile food concession licence.

While the first food bike was unveiled Thursday, another two will appear next Friday at the TedX event in Kelowna and by the end of the year, Ungaro hopes to have six on them on the streets of Kelowna and four in West Kelowna.

After that, the plan is expand the concept nationwide and into the United States as a franchise operation.

Find the entire article at kelownacapnews.com <here>

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are food trucks profitable

So, you’ve watched a few episodes of The Great Food Truck Race and now you want to open your own mobile food business but before you start investing too much time and money into this dream, you want to know…

Are Food Trucks Profitable?

The first thing you need to do to begin answering this question is understanding the simple equation of total of expenses divided by average entree cost, which gives you the amount of meals you need to sell to break even every month.

Let’s say you have $10,000 of expenses and want to average $8.00 per entree, this means you need 50 dishes a day, 25 days a month. Sounds easy, huh? We haven’t even included drinks, side dishes or desserts yet. So what do you think? Are food trucks profitable?

Well, hold on before you jump in and answer the question there are few more costs involved. In addition to the $120,000 in operational expenses ($10K x 12 months) you will have to include your start-up costs.

Additional Start-up Costs

  • How much is the truck you are going to work in?
  • Does the equipment in the truck’s kitchen work properly?
  • Does the truck have a working generator?
  • Does the truck you buy meet local health code, or are you going to have to spend money to get it approved by the city?
  • How much is licensing to operate a mobile food business in each municipality you plan to work in?
  • How much will it cost to get your truck wrapped so it properly explains your brand?
  • Are you going to spend any money on marketing your new business?
  • Are you going to be working alone or do you have to hire employees right off the bat?
  • How much will it cost to hire legal and accounting help to get your business registered?
  • How much do you need in the bank when you start to make sure you have at 6 months’ worth in reserve?

The list can go on and on, but if you leave those items out of the equation, you may answer the “Are food trucks profitable?” question without all of the data needed to come to the correct answer.

Now don’t get too too discouraged, once you begin the process of laying out your business plan financial section you can start working on ways to reduce your operating and start-up costs.

There are pros and cons of most start-up situations; here’s what to think about so you can assess your options when answering, Are Food Trucks Profitable:

  • Should I buy a new truck which comes with everything new?
  • Should I buy an existing food truck and save on start-up costs?
  • Are there opportunities to keep the operational and start-up costs down?

If you go full out, buy a new food truck with all new high end equipment and technology, you’re looking at about $250,000 in operating capital and start-up costs.

If you go the other route and get extremely frugal and able to do some of the build out work yourself, you can probably get away with $50,000 to $75,000.

If this still sounds way too aggressive for you, then you may need to re-think things. Maybe instead of just street vending, you will have to include frequent evening and weekend food truck events and catering to supplement your revenue.

So what do you think? Are food trucks profitable? Have they been for you? We’d love to hear your story. Reach out to us via email at admin [at] mobile-cuisine [dot] com, or leave us a mess on Twitter or Facebook.

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cartopia portland

PORTLAND, OR - Southeast Portland’s Cartopia food cart pod, which was slated to be redeveloped into apartments, might not be closing after all.

In an email, Potato Champion owner Mike McKinnon wrote that he and other cart owners at the late-night pod were offered a chance to renew their leases for two more years. The letter was signed by all of Cartopia’s current tenants, including Whiffies Fried Pies, Perriera Creperie, Pyro Pizza and more.

In May, The Oregonian reported that developer Vic Remmers had submitted plans to the city for a four-story, mixed-use development on the site, at Southwest 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Street.

McKinnon said he didn’t know why those plans had changed. The Oregonian has reached out to the developer for an update. Stay tuned for more details.

Find the original article at aaa <here>

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springville ut city hall

SPRINGVILLE, UT - The food truck craze is making its way to Springville, and the City Council is preparing.

The council discussed Tuesday changing current laws to better regulate the rising trend in food on wheels. Springville currently has no ordinances specifically addressing food trucks.

“The food truck craze has been big for a while,” said John Penrod, Springville city attorney.

Some of the valley’s food trucks come to Springville occasionally, including Springville’s own doughnut truck, Art City Donuts. But most food trucks operate in Springville only when they are invited or on private property. Current city laws do not allow food trucks to park in public areas, Penrod said.

He said the council needs to answer questions surrounding food truck laws they plan to implement in the future. Those questions include whether the city will allow food trucks in public areas, on what streets they will be permitted, and how close they can be to a restaurant.

City regulations throughout the valley range from a simple restriction from sidewalks to requiring criminal background checks for drivers and specifying dimensions attached to food vehicles.

Find the entire article at heraldextra.com <here>