Tags Posts tagged with "design"

design

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Your food truck business will only be as good as the food that you serve. This means that you will have to properly outfit your truck’s kitchen so that you can provide high quality meals. Stocking a food truck kitchen is typically one of the highest expenses new truck owners run into, so be prepared.

food truck kitchen outfit

To be prepared and to be able to minimize this initial out pouring of funds you must know what you will need to purchase and what your options are. This will help you from exceeding your budget.

Plan Your Menu

This may seem like an obvious step in the process, but if you plan your menu first, you will have a much easier time figuring out the equipment that your truck will need. Take the time to decide on what foods you will be offering on your menu.  A food truck offering grilled food will need a flat top; a pizza truck, a pizza oven and so on.

The menu items you offer are not only reliant on your truck’s concept, but also on the size of your mobile kitchen. Keep in mind that you will need a kitchen large enough to prepare what you plan on offering. If your truck is too small, this will limit your storage and the size of your staff. Plan the size of your food truck kitchen accordingly. This will help you determine what you can purchase that will fit in it comfortably.

Equipment

Now that you know what your menu items are, it will be easier for you to figure out what equipment you will need in order to make those items.  Chances are that no matter what you will be making, you will need commercial refrigeration and some type of commercial oven, range, flat top or fryer(s).

You will also need work tables in order to set up food stations that will make prep easier for your cooks. If you are cooking on board your truck you will also need to purchase items such as hand and three compartment sinks in order to meet health department regulations.

Cookware

Cookware is certainly an important component of a food truck kitchen. Again, depending on your menu items, you will need to choose what type of cookware you will need. These choices may be based on availability, meaning that you can purchase discounted cookware in your area, or preferences such as; you like cast iron or stainless steel cookware. There are many choices in cookware and you will need an understanding of what works best for the items you plan to serve your customers.

Kitchen Utensils

Kitchen utensils tend to be more universal than equipment or cookware. Most concepts will need knives, cutting boards, tongs and spatulas. Kitchen utensils can usually be purchased by the dozen or half dozen from restaurant supply stores at discounted prices, so that you can have enough utensils to prepare and cook all the items on your menu throughout the day, without having to constantly wash them.

Staff Uniforms

Perhaps less costly than your other purchasing requirements, but also important, are staff uniforms. You should choose good quality, matching uniforms that will last under tough food truck kitchen conditions.

Many food truck owners have used branded T-shirts to outfit their entire staff while others have shirts for service staff and chef coats branded as the uniforms for their kitchen staff. If designed properly, your uniforms can provide a source of pride for your food truck employees.

Making Your Purchases

Now that you know what you need, you can move on to making your purchases. Your budget will determine the bulk of your purchasing options. If you landed generous investors who want to create an amazing food truck with brand new commercial kitchen equipment, then you will need to search for your best options for discounts, delivery and warranties on new equipment.

There are also commercial retail discount stores that you can purchase from. Many times, these stores will include items that are ‘out of style’ and are no longer carried in the retail stores. Often this merchandise comes with warranties, giving you added security.

If you are operating on a small budget, you can choose to purchase second hand equipment and supplies. Perhaps you can locate a restaurant or food truck that is going out of business. You may be able to purchase their used equipment and cookware for a much lower price than you would pay retail. You may not get the option of a warranty, but the cost difference may be well worth it.

As you can see, properly outfitting your food truck kitchen is a huge endeavor and investment and one that will help you be successful in your mobile food venture.

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Have you ever purchased furniture only to find that it didn’t work in the space it was intended?  When getting new closets installed, I relied solely on the drawings provided by the company.  I had one question about a certain storage configuration.  Rather than have my sales rep fully walk through the plans; I answered the question myself.  I was wrong and the work is being redone.

3D Food Truck Kitchen
image from 3dconceptualdesigner.blogspot.com

The bigger question is:  How do you purchase your food truck without experiencing it in person?

The answer:  Ask many questions.

We bring this up because many of you will purchase your trucks from out-of-state builders.  Most kitchen builders are cognizant of the fact that you may not see your truck until it’s delivered.  They want to avoid unwanted surprises as much as you do, so truck builders will work closely with you to make sure the mobile kitchen you want is the one you need.

Some steps in getting your dream food truck kitchen sight unseen:

  1. Develop your concept.  This means to understand your menu and how you’re planning to store, prepare, cook and serve your food.  While this sounds elementary, it’s the first step in fully understanding your kitchen equipment needs.  Why would you have a deep fryer in your truck if you don’t have anything on your menu that’s deep fried?
  2. Know your staff and their needs/constraints.  You may think since that it’ll be you, your best friend, and cousin working the truck and because you all get along, it doesn’t matter.  What you really need to take into account, besides the tight working quarters, is each person’s area of responsibility.  Does the space fit your employees and their food preparation activities?  Are you planning to store ingredients in upper bins when your chef is short?  You have to make sure the space fits the person and their food preparation responsibilities.
  3. Food preparation flow.  You have to ask yourself how you will all work in the space in regards to food preparation.  How are the orders taken – from inside or outside of the truck?  Does the kitchen layout reflect the process by which you’re preparing the food?  Where are you serving the food – from the window, through an open door?  These processes, and many others, need to be taken into account while you develop your kitchen.
  4. Read and understand the renderings.  Reputable food truck builders should provide you with schematics or layouts of your truck throughout the building process as things change and verbally give you a good understanding of them. Not only should you get the drawings, you should get a full explanation by the builder of how the equipment supports your specific menu.  The dimensions should be accurate and the layout of the equipment should logically follow your preparation and serving needs.  Since most of the consultation is done via phone and email, take time to really understand what you’re looking at on paper before you give the “OK to proceed.” 

Felix Elorriaga, owner of Kitchens on Wheels in New Braunfels, Texas, says about working with out-of-state food truck clients, “That’s exactly what we do.  Whether it’s face-to-face or 90% over the phone, we provide the initial rendering and then work out the logistics of the systems and equipment.”  They will build to suit and talk their clients through the whole process.  They, and other reputable builders, use computer aided design (CAD) programs to provide detailed renderings to their clients electronically.

In short, your food truck builder should be able to guide you through the process, whether you’re a beginner or a food service industry veteran.  The confines of a truck are dramatically different than your home or a restaurant kitchen.  Whether you’re building your food truck or installing new shelves in your closet be sure to ask questions and understand how it all works for YOU.

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Have you ever had a catering job client ask about how they can put their stamp on the event.? This question gives you the opportunity use your creative juices and opens the door to additional profits through up selling added features to your culinary presentation.

Chances are you have seen photo images on a cake before. Corporate logos for milestone celebrations. Favorite animated characters for birthday parties. If you have, then you’ve seen edible ink and how it can be used on culinary presentations.

edible paper cupcake
image from sweetsandsoirees.ca

To make edible transfers part of your food truck or catering repertoire you will need a few basic tools.

  • A computer.
  • A dedicated new ink jet printer (standard ink is toxic—you can’t use the printer you use to print out documents every day).
  • Edible rice paper. (made with rice starch, water and salt). The printable paper for cake decorating, known as wafer paper, is made of potato starch, vegetable oil and water.

Prices for these basics will vary but can normally be found at relatively low prices. New ink jet printers can be as inexpensive as $50, edible rice paper or wafer paper costs $19–$25 for a box of 100 8×11 sheets and edible ink cartridges are available for $65–$75.

Application

  1. Bake cookies/crackers for 3/4 of the usual baking time, then pull from oven and brush with an egg wash while still hot.
  2. Apply the rice or wafer paper you’ve printed onto the cookies/crackers immediately after you’ve brushed them with egg wash, then apply another coat of egg wash.
  3. Finish baking the cookies/crackers.
  4. The rice paper will be clear and plastic-like when dry.

Hints

  • Rice paper absorbs moisture, so store it in a sealed container or Cryovac after each use to keep dry.
  • Take the cartridges with food color ink out of the printer and seal in plastic bags when not it use. This will help keep the ink from drying out so you can use it longer.
  • You may want to ask the source of your edible paper which printer works best for their paper.
  • Get as many of the images you want to transfer as possible onto each edible sheet to save paper—and money.
  • Edible ink and papers can be purchased online.
  • Kosher edible paper and ink are available.

Edible frosting sheets can be printed with edible ink and then put onto a frosted item. The sheets leave the printed image in the frosting.

Whether social or corporate, your catering clients will love seeing their logo, monogram or photos on food items you prepare for them. To help use this technique for up selling, have a sample ready for your meeting with the client; it might be what it takes to give you a competitive edge.

Weddings, mitzvahs, grand openings, fund-raisers, birthdays; no matter what the catered occasion, this upsell is a perfect fit. And these edible delights can stand alone or complement any sweet or savory culinary creation, so let your imagination fly.

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Food Truck Awning Design
Photo by: Steffen Zinn

Awnings brandishing a food truck’s logo are becoming so common that we felt we would put this article together to help aspiring food truck owners (or existing truck owners who have yet to purchase one) in the design of their own. Like the street signs that you’ve seen countless times whose names you can’t recall when asked for directions, food truck awnings can blend into the landscape until they are no longer noticeable.

Bright red, hot pink, sunny yellow, the number of colors to choose from goes on and on. Yet, even with bright color schemes, these mobile advertisements can seem to disappear over time. They lose their luster and after time, don’t seem to perform out as intended. Awnings are supposed to eye-catching, they’re supposed to make people walking, cycling, or driving by take notice.

But how can you get the right fit for your mobile food business? What colors, designs and fonts work best for food truck awnings? While certainly not the most exciting advertising medium, these fixtures are necessary, if used to tie into the branding of your truck.

Food Truck Awning Aesthetics and Functionality

Awnings have been recorded to be used in ancient Egypt and Syria. Remarkably, these fixtures have changed little since that time. In the year 50 B.C, a Roman poet wrote about them as part of the grandeur of the city. These fixtures have been a part of storefront commerce since their inception and came to prominence during the early 19th century and were fabricated of simple materials.

Originally developed as a demarcation for businesses and restaurants with personality, these structures can provide shelter from sun and rain for customers walking up to your food truck’s service window. Over time, these fixtures became more colorful and durable. The color was to attract customers and the durability to ensure safe passage in and out of an establishment.

Unfortunately, with these innovations comes familiarity and that means people no longer take notice when passing by a business’ storefront. In order to overcome the ubiquity, thinking a bit outside the box is necessary.

Designing Eye-Catching Food Truck Awnings

What is important is to stay away from the ordinary, to choose a shape and design that makes a distinct impression without being too busy or distracting from the wrap on your truck. This means striking a balance and allowing the fixture to do what it’s intended to do best. Consider using complimentary colors (to your wrap) while keeping it brand-aligned. This will make it really pop.

More tips:

  • Less is more. The thing with food truck awnings is they often the second thing customers see after the graphics on your truck. So, it’s tempting to put a lot of information on them. But that can make it look crowded or take away from other signage. Include what’s needed to identify the business and pique interest. Strike a balance between what’s necessary and what’s not to get the most out of the fixture.
  • Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Shapes and patterns are very important. You want your mobile food business’ awning to complement your wrap and not to look out of place. Choose a shape that blends into the shape of the truck well and patterns which set it off simultaneously.
  • Let graphics speak for your themselves. Some of the most iconic awnings have little to no information about the business on them. Instead, they incorporate graphics which make them stand out. Good graphics can even project a mood. If you show someone the word ‘hamburger’ that doesn’t make your mouth water as much as a picture of a juicy hamburger will.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for mock-ups. Look at the various designs when using a professional graphics or awning company to get a feel for how the finished product will look. With some imagination and a little persistence, you can design an awning for your food truck which really catches the eye.

Here’s a handy video on how to open and close a fabric food truck awning by Concession Nation, Inc.

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media_relations press kit

We were recently informed that more journalists and reporters prefer to use online press kits to gather research information on food trucks as opposed to the old style hard copy press kits. Why? Because the Internet is a 24/7 operation and a busy reporter on deadline can jump online and cruise through an online press kit without having to wait for an overnight package or fax.

Many food truck owners are embracing this new form of media relations and have already created their own press kit. Like your Web site, your online press kit should contain certain elements and be simple to navigate. Here are some “do’s and don’ts” to consider before you dive in to create your own online press kit for your food truck.

Do’s:

Be easy to locate on your Website. This link should appear prominently in the site’s menu or on the home page. Reporters don’t have time to search for it.

Provide materials commonly used by the media. A general press kit usually contains background of the truck, FAQ, and profiles of key individuals or spokespeople. This is what a reporter will want to see when they visit your online media room. The purpose of providing these common documents is to minimize any extra work a reporter will need to do to get what they need. Other important items to include are high-resolution, digital photos, high-resolution digital logo graphics, and of course your press releases.

Include the media coverage you may have already received. When you or your truck has been covered by the media (preferably the favorable stuff), it will help to legitimize your business to show it off. However, be careful about copyright issues when reposting articles. If you or your truck has appeared in the media, use anything from audio clips, video clips, and links to the media outlets’ web site in your online media room’s “In the Press” page. A simple email to the author or editor can work as verification for reprint permission.

Include media contact information. If the person handling your media relations is not an employee of the business, be sure that the contact info in the online media room directs reporters to the person who is. If a reporter reaches out and their request is lost in cyberspace, chances are, they won’t come back.

Don’ts:

Combine info for both the public AND the media. Ideally, the information provided for the media should be separate from content intended for the public or consumers. One reason is that it makes it more difficult for the media to find what it wants, and another is because it reduces your control over the info provided to the media. Messaging is very important, and while it can sometimes vary for the public, it should always be consistent for the media – after all, your messaging is what they’re using to cover you with.

Require a reporter to make numerous requests for additional info. There are always going to be some things that you do not want to provide online on a constant basis. This could include certain photos of you and your truck and even your logo. Feel free to say “please contact us for photos of our team and truck,” or “please contact us for a high resolution image of our logo.” The point of your press kit is to provide the media with most of what it needs.

Be out of date. Update press kit materials as needed, and try to keep a current press release available – even if it wasn’t distributed on the wire or to reporters directly. By keeping a timely supply of “news,” in your media room, it will be obvious to the media that it receives your attention.

Other Helpful Tips:

Use links – not e-mail attachments.  Media rooms with media libraries should allow you to upload your documents and create a URL to their location online, which you can provide to the media instead of an e-mail attachment. When was the last time you opened an e-mail from a stranger that had an attachment?

Use a blog. Blogs are a great way to discuss your food truck or the mobile food industry and are often used by members of the media when researching for a story.

By following these tips and by putting yourself in the shoes of a journalist, you will be able to develop an online presence that is both informative and convenient. Do this and you’ll meet the demands of the media and increase the likelihood of gaining editorial exposure for your food truck business.

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