How Much Does It Cost To Start A Food Truck Business

A common question we are asked by our readers relates to the cost to start a food truck. Many times this question is asked when readers are working on the food truck cost analysis of their food truck business plan.

RELATED: Look Deeper Into Your Food Truck Financial Analysis

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 truck 5000 25000 125000
Vehicle inspection 100 300 500
Retrofit / bring the truck to code 25000 40000 50000
Generator 1500 5000 10000
Register/POS System 150 1250 2500
Paint 1000 2000 3000
Truck wrap 2500 3500 5000
Initial food purchases 500 1250 2000
Utensils and paper goods 500 1000 3500
Website design 500 3500 7500
Initial office equip and supplies 200 500 1000
Initial advertising and PR 500 750 1000
Professional, legal and consulting fees 500 2000 5000
Reoccurring start-up costs
Payroll 1500 2500 3500
Commercial kitchen/Commissary rent 500 1500 3000
Credit card processing equipment 50 150 500
Fuel 250 300 400
Start-up costs which vary by location
Permits and licensing  50  500  10000
Insurance  300 500  1000

Please note:

  • Prices shown are not set in stone, and can change without notice.
  • Reoccurring prices shown 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

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

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 down the cost to start a food truck business.

Related: Find Food Trucks For Sale Here

So how much did it cost to start a food truck for you? 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.
2017-05-12T14:13:30+00:00 By |Business|

About the Author:

Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.

33 Comments

  1. Laura Burrell Feb 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

    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
    www.foodtruckandcartsale.com
    267-738-1656

  2. Kailash Caullechurn Mar 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I need to know much more about the food track business..please.

  3. Tim Mar 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    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.

  4. Patrick S. Apr 6, 2013 at 9:59 am

    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.

  5. Josiah Williams May 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Hi guys;
    Im doing a school project. How much is everyone paying for a “healthy” food truck?

  6. […] Mobile-cuisine.com said that a food truck wrap can cost anywhere from $2,500 up to $5,000. […]

  7. Joel Paprocki Aug 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    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.

  8. Richard Foote Oct 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

    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.

  9. Jose Gonzalez Oct 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    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

  10. Mama's Kitchen On Wheels Oct 28, 2013 at 10:42 am

    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.

  11. Mama's Kitchen On Wheels Oct 28, 2013 at 10:45 am

    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.

  12. Mama's Kitchen On Wheels Oct 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Hello all. Good Question. We just started our Food truck & catering business in the Cleveland. We have spent close to 100k – not including the many hours of time.
    Please “like” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mamas-Kitchen-On-Wheels-LLC/1409890759228332

  13. Mama's Kitchen On Wheels Oct 28, 2013 at 10:56 am

    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!

  14. Mama's Kitchen On Wheels Oct 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Laura, what city are you located in?
    Thanks.

  15. Kristin Thayer Oct 29, 2013 at 8:25 am

    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”

  16. Neptunes Galley Jan 1, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    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.

  17. […] is subdivided by three price ranges; $ = low, $$ = average and $$$ = high for each area.” How Much Does it Cost to Start a Food Truck Business, Mobile […]

  18. […] Check out this article for more detailed information on the costs of starting a food truck business. […]

  19. The Moral Liberal Mar 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    […] 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 […]

  20. Lacey Mar 15, 2014 at 11:42 am

    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

  21. Aileen Markes Jul 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    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.

  22. Lili Sep 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    now a days you can find a food truck for as low as $14,000 fully loaded. pretty good deals. Good Post, gives people an idea of a max amount they need to start up. It isn’t as easy as a lot of people think it is.

  23. Chris Sep 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    These prices are ridiculous . If you can do most of the work you can do a truck for 20 k easily. If you cannot do the work then get out of the truck business, because all you money will eventually go into repairs etc. figure how to do it yourself first then decide if you want a truck business.

  24. John Maxwell Sep 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Hi folks……My name is John Maxwell. I am originally from New Orleans and have over 40 years in all phases of the restaurant business. I am entering my third year now with my truck, The Ragin’ Cajun Food Truck here in Ft. Wayne Indiana. Even with all my experience , the “truck world” is quite different (operations wise) than a fixed location or even outside catering. As we close out year two, our truck is really booming now and I would be more than willing to answer any questions about any aspect of owning and starting a truck. Check us out on Facebook ( lot’s of pictures) and by sending me a PM on FB is prolly the best way to get a quick response to your question and hopefully I can save you some time and money as I have already made my share of mistakes ( even after doing my own research and having tons of practical experience). I ask for nothing in return ,nor am I trying to sell you anything ( other than a Po-Boy maybe and only if you happen to be in front of my truck window) . So with that I wish you good luck and let the questions begin. Thanks.

  25. Mobile Cuisine Sep 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Sorry Chris, but probably 1% of the population have the skills needed to put a fully functioning food truck on the road themselves. To tell someone that since they don’t have a mechanical background they should ignore becoming a food truck is a kin to telling any business person that unless they can build the building they will operate out of that they should not start a business.

  26. Mobile Cuisine Sep 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks John. It’s vendors like you that make this industry so awesome to cover on a daily basis.

  27. Gorilla Feb 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Hi everyone I planing to have my food truck in Virginia and I bought a 83 Chevrolet truck I have to repair it because when I started it went off.I have paid 3,200 for the truck. What do you think about the price . until know I started thinking that maybe I did pay to much and still working in repair it to start installing all inside. Please tell me something comments asept it.thanks

  28. Bobby Feb 19, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    Within the last year, I've been going through the process of building my food truck. Purchased the truck last year for $6200, 2000 P30 Workhorse, diesel, V8, automatic, 18' step van. Had to put roughly $4000 to get in tip top shape. Purchased 24" charboiler, 36" griddle top with oven, 12" deep fryer, 3 compartment sink and separate hand sink, upright top freezer and bottom cooler frig 30", 60" prep table and frig, and 48" prep table and frig for roughly $9000. Steam proof lights 4'x1' two of them for $125 each. Generator was $6000 Onan 8000 Quiet diesel, remote switch and harness $160. I'm painting my truck for $3500. License/permit $700 Arizona, $160 for SafeServ food manager certificate, $160 x 4 each sticker logo. Builder is charging $22000 for propane tank, range hood, service window, all the stainless steel, lights out front, custom step through the back, 6 gallon water heater, install, and 1 year warranty. I'll probably have $55000 when I'm said and done. But you can save a lot of money if you find the equipment yourself. Please contact me if you have any questions. I honestly think when it's complete I'll have a $75,000 truck, fully operational and health code compliant.

    Few things I learned along the way:
    *Find the right builder, the cheapest quote I got was $16000 for the same thing but he was working out of a vacant residential lot. Not a real shop and hardly spoke english.
    *Do not rush into this, I know it's exciting and seems fun. But better choices are made if you take a step back and think things through.
    *Save money, because things add up and people don't work for free. I had money saved up $30K but I work as a realtor par-time that funded the rest of the build. I honestly thought I needed $45000 in it.
    *Find a good mechanic that works on your type of truck.
    *Don't run away from the health code requirements, embrace it. You'll put out a better product too.
    *Have friends or family that support this idea.
    *Install a rearview camera, trust me…

    That's all I can think of right now. Good luck everyone!

  29. Randy Mar 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Bobby, I am just looking into this idea a food truck and your comment of above is far the best comments for this column. Thank you and hope you post more good stuff

  30. Patti Aug 18, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I was wondering about a wine truck serving only wine and cheese…and maybe bread…thoughts?

  31. Kyle Oct 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    One thing that seems to be neglected that is extremely important is design. A logo of some sort and supporting graphics for use on the truck need to be developed. You likely won't get the best product from a wrap installer as you would a dedicated designer, just be wary that the cost will be higher. I think Bobby said it best, don't rush into it. Take the time to think it through and make decisions that will serve you long term.

  32. Ben Oct 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    @BOBBY, how can I contact you. I want to start a food truck business and would like to get more advice from you.

  33. Ibaz Dec 16, 2016 at 1:04 am

    Hi Bobby, great commend! Do you have an email I could contact you?
    Thanks.

Leave A Comment