Food Truck Design 101: How To Design A Food Truck

If you are planning to start your food truck, you must know that it involves a lot of work because you will be competing with more than 35,000 food trucks that are currently operating in the US. The number of food trucks has grown almost four times in the last decade resulting in very high competition. So, it is pretty clear that food trucks have created a niche for themselves in the evolving restaurant space in the US.

You have a vision and want to realize it by setting up a successful food truck business. So, you must come up with ideas to stay ahead of your competitors. You can invest in an expensive vehicle or technology, but creating an appealing food truck design is one of the key elements of success for the food truck business.

This article will walk you through everything you need to know to design a food truck.

Licenses And Permits

Although not exactly a part of food truck design, you need to obtain the required licenses and permits even before you begin to think about your food truck business. In fact, the local regulations may sometimes affect your design choices. The truck regulations for food trucks may vary from place to place, so here is a list of some of the most crucial permits you must know about.

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)

EIN issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is required when you apply for any license, permit, or file any other paperwork. You can compare it to the social security number of an individual.

  • Business License

The business license issued by the US government allows you to run a business legally in a city or a state. The application process varies depending on your region, and you can obtain the details from the US Small Business Administration (SBA)’s website.

  • Food Service License

You will need a food service license, which the state health department issues. The license type varies in some states depending on the establishment type, which you can check on US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)’s website.

Things To Consider Before Designing Your Food Truck

Once the food truck is ready for business, you must build a strategy to attract customers and convince them to become your loyal patrons. But the question is – how to find and keep the customers? In the case of food trucks, branding can be the answer, and one of the ways to achieve it is to have an excellent food truck design.

However, there are things that need to be considered before designing your food truck, which are discussed below.

  • Choose the right vehicle

You need to purchase the truck depending on the space you need for your inventory, equipment, and staff. You will have many options while shopping for your food truck, but you should focus on the size, look, new or retrofitted, and fuel choice to select the most suitable vehicle for your business. Once you have your food truck, you can tweak the design to suit your vision.

  • Run your food truck

Next, to run your food truck, you will need power, which can get expensive. However, there are many ways to run the business sustainably and affordably. To choose an appropriate power source for your food truck, you need to know the energy requirement of your equipment and emissions regulations in your area.

You can choose to invest in a good commercial generator, which will allow you to power all the equipment with the press of a button, but it will churn out a lot of carbon monoxide and heat. On the other hand, solar panels can be a great way to run a food truck. But solar panels require a hefty investment upfront, which is only justified if you are in a place with enough sunlight.

  • Plan the food truck layout

Given that kitchen is the place where the magic happens, the kitchen layout is where the planning becomes more interesting. The interior design impacts your staff and customers, who are the most significant part of your overall business. Although the design of your kitchen will primarily depend on your menu, it should also prioritize the safety and efficiency of your staff. The layout should include durable, non-slip, inflammable floors, proper ventilation, enough room for staff movement, easy access to inventory, and emergency exits.

  • Food truck mobility

Although the name inherently suggests mobility, many food trucks stay put in one place while the remaining few move around. Both the options have their own set of benefits, but the choice of design may change based on your choice of mobility.

If you stay put, you need to include outdoor seating and outdoor public restrooms in your food truck design. The biggest drawback is that you will be counting on people coming to you rather than you following them. If you choose to move around, you can go where the people are going while risking the possibility of your food truck parking the vehicle without adequate knowledge of the regulations in the area.

  • Brand the food truck

The food truck business has branding strategies of its own. In one instance, you will attempt to drive the customers to your food truck, and in the next, you will follow them. Nevertheless, an attractive exterior can go a long way to attract people to your food truck. While branding your food truck’s exterior, you can consider vinyl wrapping or hand painting as an economical alternative. You can also choose a mix of both to cut down the high cost of vinyl wrapping.

  • Hygiene and other essentials

There are strict regulations pertaining to the availability of restrooms near food trucks. So, if you have enough space, build a hygienic washroom on board to increase productivity as your staff won’t need to go offsite for the same. However, composting toilets will add to the time spent on cleaning your food truck.

3 Creative Ideas To Design A Food Truck

Here are some cool and creative ways for you to design your food truck.

  • Use unique murals or art

The main objective while designing the exterior walls of a food truck is to make them eye-catching. You can use bold murals or simple and bright designs to wrap your food truck from the outside.

  • Use an authentic handwritten menu

Try to use a handwritten menu as a welcoming sign to your truck. The menu font should be large enough so that your customers can read it from a decent distance, while it definitely should be eye-catching.

  • Use lighting in your design

Undercarriage lights can make your food truck stand out at night. Including lighting in your design can make the truck more welcoming as it adds to the ambiance and feel of the place.

If you can follow the above-mentioned tips while designing the food truck and execute the ideas effectively, you will generate more profits from the business and keep the customers coming back.

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Nikunj is the Communications Lead at Restroworks, a global leader in cloud-based technology platforms. In his role, he oversees global marketing and branding initiatives for Restroworks across APAC, the Middle East, and the US.


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