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tip of the dayDeveloping an effective mission statement for your food truck is a strategy: it must be a clear description of where your mobile food business is headed in the future that distinctly sets it apart from other trucks in your area. Developing a mission statement shouldn’t be a quick wordsmithing exercise. As much time and energy should be devoted to writing a mission statement for your food truck as is to creating a sales and profit budget. And the process should involve the staff (if you’ve already hired employees) and your partners to ensure that everyone embraces the organization’s strategic direction and is willing to be held accountable for it.

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great-food-truck-scholarship-contest

Enter The Great Food Truck Race Scholarship Contest to win a $20,000 Scholarship toward a degree in Culinary Arts!

Start Date:
August 17, 2012

End Date:
February 28, 2013

Eligibility:
Open to all legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, 18 years of age or older.

Official Rules

Entry Limit:
Limit one (1) entry per person or e-mail address.

Prize(s):

One (1) Grand Prize: consisting of a $20,000 ”The Great Food Truck Race” Scholarship that can be applied toward the full tuition costs associated with obtaining a certificate, diploma, associate’s or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts at any of The Art Institutes US locations. The full tuition costs of these programs vary by school and state. Visit this link for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important information.  Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of this prize is $20,000.

Enter the Sweepstakes

 

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Fairy-Cakes

HONOLULU, HI – The owner of the popular Hawaii food trucks Xtreme Tacos and Fairycakes is getting into the wedding cake business.

Wendy Awai-Dakroub, who also owns a restaurant chain in the Middle East, has purchased Frosted, an established business specializing in custom wedding cakes and cupcakes, from Melissa Char, who sold the business to pursue a master’s degree in education.

Awai-Dakroub is best known in Hawaii for her colorful food trucks that draw long lines at locations around Oahu.

The mustard-yellow Xtreme Tacos truck, which is often seen in Kakaako and around Windward Oahu, sells Mexican food with spicy sauces.

It is accompanied by Fairycakes, a bright purple van named “Lola,” which serves up whoopie pies, brownies, cupcakes, and gooey bars made from scratch.

Fairycakes’ sales took off, and Awai-Dakroub became flooded with requests for wedding and specialty cakes.

“I couldn’t meet these people’s demands with my van, and thought why not,” Awai-Dakroub said. “So we had our consultants put out a notice that we were looking to buy a wedding company, and, well, here we are.”

Awai-Dakroub intends to keep the Frosted brand, but will call her new business Frosted by Fairycakes. She is looking to hire five people.

Find the entire article from bizjournals.com <here>

FAIRYCAKES808

Twitter: @FAIRYCAKES808
Honolulu’s fun, fab and fresh mobile cakery! ;)

http://fairycakeshawaii.com

 

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hygiene on food trucks

Across the nation more and more municipalities are continuing to embrace the food truck revolution. With that said, there are still many industry detractors who continually bring up the false claim that food trucks are not held to the same health standards as their brick and mortar restaurant counterparts. The problem with this claim is that the mobile food industry (including the trucks and their commercial kitchens) is reviewed and held to the same health codes by local health departments as restaurants. To help stop this outright lie by these individuals, food truck owners need to make sure they educate themselves and their employees on food safety and install effective solutions before hitting the streets.

As food truck owners gain knowledge on food safety and hygiene, they will see how it increases their bottom line by decreasing risks of foodborne illnesses and write-ups from the health inspector. Here are five tips to help you get started in the right foot:

Keep Hands Clean 

Proper hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent illness and the spread of germs. While space is tight in a food truck, operators need a hand washing station that provides running warm water and soap with a touch-free dispenser and single-use paper towels in a contained dispenser. Hand hygiene is a key issue because a food truck’s compact environment lends itself to a higher risk of cross contamination. Use rubber gloves, and never allow your service window operator (who handles the money) to touch food products without first properly washing their hands.

Check Food Temperatures 

Maintaining and checking the appropriate temperature of foods prior to and during service is another important factor in preventing foodborne illness. Hot foods should be held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above and served or discarded after four hours. If foods are not held at the appropriate temperature, bacteria growth begins, increasing the possibility of making a customer ill.

Maintain Proper Refrigeration 

Food trucks are traveling most of the day and need cold storage for a variety of ingredients and pre-prepared items at food safe temperatures. The greatest threat for the rapid bacteria growth occurs in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with some bacteria doubling in numbers in as little as 20 minutes. A refrigerator needs to be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to protect most foods.

Sanitize Surfaces 

Sanitizing solutions should be changed frequently. All mobile vendors should refer to local health department regulations on the necessary concentrations for sanitizing solutions. Instead of using cloth towels that can hold bacteria even after washing, use disposable wipes to disinfect food preparation, counter, service and utility surfaces.

Keep Hygienic Products Onboard 

Keeping cleaning and hygiene products readily available can be a challenge when space is an issue. However, there are portable and compact solutions for food trucks when it comes to preventing foodborne illnesses. Affix hand sanitizer dispensers near the service window to help ensure hand hygiene among your staff. Some food truck owners have hand sanitizing stations available for their customers use.

The road to cleanliness can certainly be a dirty job. In addition to providing your staff with proper training and the use of cleaning solutions; food truck operators need comply with all state and local health code regulations. Not only will focusing on hygiene help to quite the industry detractors, it will steer your mobile business toward to a better bottom line by ensuring customers will continually bring their appetites to the window of the cleanest food truck in town.

 

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lonchera

LOS ANGELES, CA - It’s not the kind of question you ask in public, but: Would you eat from a plain white catering truck?

While perusing the menu of a fancy green-and-orange food truck parked near Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank on a recent afternoon, a man in a button-down shirt and slacks pauses, then says, “No.”

Another admits, “I don’t care. I just want good food!”

Good for him. Because, unbeknownst to either of these customers, until last summer the trendy-looking Prime Time Cuisine on Wheels was a typical taco truck, not a Twitter-hyped “food truck.” It served a dozen daily stops at factories and construction sites — the sort of truck that might get called, unfairly, “roach coach.”

“You want-a-salsa?” Lucy Granados asks with a Spanish accent, as she hands a white food container through the pick-up window to a customer wearing designer sunglasses.

At 47, Granados has been working on food trucks nearly half her life. The Mexican immigrant and her husband, Solomon, bought one for $30,000 cash 10 years ago. Last summer, they spent $5,000 more on new tires, engine work and the type of custom wrap that shouts “gourmet.”

“Our business was suffering. Most of our customers earned minimum wage and didn’t even want to pay $2 for a taco,” Granados says. “We knew wrapping the truck would get us into organized events and introduce us to a new clientele.”

The Los Angeles County Health Department tallies about 6,000 permitted catering trucks. About 200 are gourmet: snazzy vehicles dishing up (mostly) fusion food, with a strong online presence. But the vast majority are run by Mexican or Central American immigrants — native Spanish speakers, disconnected from technology.

In the ocean of catering trucks flooding Los Angeles streets, Prime Time Cuisine on Wheels is a rarity. Few traditional trucks have gone gourmet.

“For some, the digital divide is so strong,” says Erin Glenn, CEO of La Asociación de Loncheros. “Just because social media may work for one group doesn’t always mean it’ll work for another. Just because this is happening doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. It’s just another form of doing business.”

The gourmet food truck business model exploded in 2009. Kogi Korean BBQ pioneer Roy Choi used social media to bring crowds. That appealed to the young and affluent, making taco trucks fashionable in neighborhoods that previously had not tolerated them. Facebook and Twitter became the cookie-cutter tools that savvy entrepreneurs used to connect with next-generation customers. Interest in food trucks went from zero to 60 almost overnight.

“When I came in to consult for La Raza Foods, nobody wanted to rent a catering truck,” Rick Restifo says. The veteran truck operator has nearly 40 years of experience and serves as a business adviser at one of California’s largest commissaries, where food trucks are mandated to park overnight.

Find the entire article by Patricia Nazario at The LA Weekly <here>

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tip of the day

You have to plan for your food truck to be profitable. Without a budget in place, it’s tempting to spend, or even overspend what you earn. Your budget is a key component to operating a successful mobile food business, one that operates profitably and with systems. Having a budget gives you a guide for covering your expenses and as a tool for setting goals. Goals can range from something as big as opening a new truck to something more immediate such as hiring an additional staff member. A budget will serve as your roadmap to meeting your goals; make sure you use one to plan for your profitability.

 

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St. Louis, MO – Tom Broadwell gets plenty of attention driving his 1955 pickup truck, but it’s what he had in the back over the weekend that attracted the attention of a crook.

Papa Tom's Gateway Dog House

“Which was a generator and 100 feet of 50 amp copper electrical cable,” said Broadwell.

Somebody stole the stuff. The $4,000 generator powered Broadwell’s food truck, Papa Tom’s Gateway Dog House, and no power won’t cut the mustard.

“I can’t say it on camera what I really thought but, you know, how do I go from here,” said Broadwell.

Broadwell borrowed a generator to keep the hotdog wagon rolling, but turned to social media to help turn the wheels of justice.

The hotel gave him a copy of its security footage (adt reviews), and Broadwell posted it on Facebook and sent out alerts on Twitter.

The video shows what looks like a light colored jeep pull up. Then what appears to be a man approaching and eventually wheeling off the generator.

“I figured hey maybe somebody knows a person who looks like this that drives that vehicle and, yeah, we’ll see how it goes,” said Broadwell.

Broadwell also reported the theft to police.

Watch the video <here>

Find the original article <here>

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While your food truck’s name might not make or break your business, but having the right name can have a huge influence on your success, especially in its early stages. Coming up with a memorable name is one of the first steps in the branding of your mobile business, and a great name is the beginning of a great brand. Your food truck or cart’s name should be memorable and create a certain feeling when heard.

The name you choose is truly the first impression people have of your mobile business. If you are new to the area, and people don’t know anything about you, they will make a decision based on the name you select.

Choosing the Right Name

So how do you choose the right name? While there are many different opinions on how to come up with the right name, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

  • Brainstorm. Think about how you want people to feel when they hear about your truck or cart. Write down these words on and then categorize them by primary meaning.
  • Relate. Think about related words and phrases that evoke the feelings you want. Hit the thesaurus and find all the synonyms for your words and phrases.
  • Relate more. Find out the Greek and Latin translations of your words. Figure out what colors, gemstones, plants, animals, etc., relate to your words.
  • Experiment. Start playing with combinations of your various words and partial words. Don’t be judgmental now – just make a list.
  • Reflect. Review your list and just give some thought to each name. How does it make you feel when you hear it?

Your businesses name should be a reflection of who you are and what you do. Your customers should be able to get an idea of what to expect when they walk up to your service window. For example, you wouldn’t want to call your truck or cart “Ocean Breeze” and not have any seafood on the menu. Certain names conjure up images. You want those images to lead your customer base to you and your rolling bistro.

You want your name to be easy to remember. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to be able to tell their friends and family about the great new truck they found. Even if they can’t remember exactly where you were located, if they remember the name, they can always look you up online. Your name should stick with them long after their meal has ended.

As far as how to come up with the right name, that’s largely a matter of personal preference. Some people want to include their own name as part of the mobile restaurant name. Others may use the location of the business, or even something that reflects the history of the area they usually do business  in.

One thing to remember when going with trendy names: trends change. Try to make sure your business name will stand the test of time.

One way to test your ideas is to tell family and friends the name, and have them tell you what image comes to mind. If they heard that name, what would they expect when they walked up to your cart of truck? Try to have them visualize everything from mood to menu items to what the employees are wearing. The more details they can give you, the better ideal you will have about the effectiveness of the name. Do this with several names, and get rid of the ones that conjure up the wrong image.

Research Your Food Truck Name

Before you fall in love with the name you’ve chosen, and rush out to print up business cards and start advertising, you need to do a little research. There is a chance you won’t get to use any of the ones you really like. Before you go any further you need to do some research to make sure the name isn’t already registered by someone else. Bypassing this step could mean fines for copyright infringement, and having to spend the time and money to have your name changed.

You can start your research on your own by looking online.  Your next step is to contact your states Secretary of State office and ask them how to check for registered names. Also, check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office . They keep a listing of any federally registered trademarks. There are also some professional search organizations that specialize in doing research on company names. A U.S. trademark or service mark costs $325. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to trying to defend it in court later.

Check online to make sure that an appropriate domain name is available. You want YourFoodTruckName.com, if at all possible. If that’s not available, you may want to reconsider. Even if someone doesn’t have the domain, you still want to see what else is out there that has the same name. That doesn’t mean you don’t use it if you find something, but you need to know.

If the name you’ve decided on is available, register it with the Secretary of State’s office. If you are going to use a logo or trademark, you can register it with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. Once your trademark is registered, it stays registered to you as long as you file a renewal every 10 years.

A good food truck name can be like a magnet attracting customers, and sets the mood for what they can expect when they walk through your doors. Do your research and make sure it’s the right name for you.

Things to Keep in Mind When Naming a Mobile Restaurant

You are Creating a New Brand – So make sure it’s memorable and has positive connotations. If it’s a foreign word, make sure it doesn’t mean something bad in another language.

Easy to Remember – Make sure others find the name easy to remember. If it’s not, people will have trouble finding it and telling friends about it.

Easy to Spell – If the name has an unusual spelling, it will make it harder for people to look up in the phone book and on line.

We hope this guide helps you in creating a memorable and marketable business name for your new food truck or other mobile food vending operation. Without taking the time to do research, you may find that you will need to restart this process sometime down the road, because your original choice didn’t market your brand the way you had wanted it to.

Still having a tough time coming up with a name, check our our free Food truck Name Generator to see if it can give you some suggestions. <here>

 

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While you are out and about walking the streets of your city, don’t be surprised if you get a personalized tweet from a nearby food truck in the near future.  It might be offering you a free meal in celebration of your tenth check in for the month.

As location based software (LBS) applications like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt continue to evolve their respective advertising models, third-party providers are busy building platforms of their own that leverage the communities surrounding such applications and services for unique integrated marketing campaigns.

One such Atlanta based startup, PlacePunch, has launched a new platform that allows businesses of any size to run their own location based marketing campaigns that integrate with Foursquare, Facebook Places, Twitter, Gowalla and others; effectively providing a one stop platform to leverage mobile location from all the major players.  The platform allows for a variety of campaigns, including loyalty and rewards programs that take advantage of check-ins, proximity to certain venues and other location oriented attributes.

PlacePunch provides the entire infrastructure necessary, including branded sign-up pages, mobile coupon delivery and analytics, so for example, your food truck can create a loyalty program that counts customer check-ins towards certain rewards and coupons.  Marketers can also run personalized messaging programs through Twitter for customers that check into their venues, so if customers check-in to your food truck, you would be able to set up a recurring Tweet welcoming them.

This platform provides the added benefit of a comprehensive dashboard. This dashboard of reports and analytics is set up to help businesses learn more about their customers and venues, including demographics, time of check-ins, and more. While your mobile restaurant could initiate the same type of campaign with the various LBS applications independently, by using PlacePunch you are provided with a streamlined and centralized environment to leverage the location-craze.

If you are interested in learning how PlacePunch can help your mobile food business increase check-ins and customer loyalty, please contact them or investigate their website. Please note, the software is free to download while the application in its beta phase.

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A topic and (hidden) cost that most new food trucks are unfamiliar with before purchasing an insurance policy.

I often get calls from new food trucks just weeks away from embarking on their new food truck operation and looking to secure insurance coverage. They know they need it, but often it is last on their very long to-do list. One topic they are usually unfamiliar with is the need for Additional Insured certificates…most venues/events that a truck attends will require a certificate.

An Additional Insured is a term for a person, firm or other entity afforded the same protection under the insurance policy as the insured (food truck). Essentially the venue/event is protecting themselves for Bodily Injury or Property Damage you may cause at the venue/event. So venues/events will want to be named as an Additional Insured on a certificate. Some carriers charge $25-$100 per Additional Insured certificate…this can add up to a significant cost after twelve months. Unfortunately, insurance brokers that are not familiar with food truck operations often fail to mention the cost or even realize a truck would need many certificates.

My hope is that either your potential broker A) places you with an admitted carrier that doesn’t charge for certificates or B) they offer you a blanket (unlimited) Additional Insured option that will add about $500 in premium for the year. It is best to deal with an insurance broker that knows your business inside and out and can help guide you on insurance process for today’s needs and your future needs. Please visit my website if you have any questions or need a quote.

Matt Carlson, CIC is an insurance broker that specializes in insurance and risk management solutions for food and catering trucks. He is a foodie and second generation commercial insurance broker. He provides his clients with General Liability, Auto and Workers’ Compensation coverage. Matt currently insures over 25 food trucks. Some of his more notable clients are Krazy BBQ, Kogi BBQ and The Fox Pizza Bus. You can find his insurance website at http://www.cateringtruckinsurance.com where you can get more information on his company or an insurance quote application.

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