When concession trailers are mentioned, many people think of hotdog and ice cream carts, but today’s trailers are usually much more sophisticated, offering considerably more than simply serving pre-cooked food. Patrons can enjoy a healthy meal, freshly cooked to order, of a quality comparable to many conventional restaurants. In fact, an increasing number of aspiring chefs and restaurateurs are finding custom food concession trailers to be the most affordable way to break into the business.
The restaurant business is not an easy one, and requires a very significant investment of time and capital, even for a modest beginning. The start-up investment for a fixed location will include acquiring space, outfitting the kitchen, purchasing furniture and fixtures, linens, silverware, place settings and a host of other items. These up-front costs can easily exceed $300,000 for a plain-Jane 1500 square foot restaurant, before any staff or consumables are added. Even a very modestly equipped cafe of that size can run close to $100,000 to equip.
At a cost of between $50 and $225 per square foot for a brick and mortar restaurant, the low overhead of a custom concession trailer can offer a very attractive alternative, lowering the barrier to entry for many budding chefs. The significantly smaller investment also tends to allow a much quicker transition to profitability. Should the venture not work out for some reason, the risk is also considerably less.
Foremost among the things to consider before purchasing such a trailer is the sort of food that will be offered. Different cooking styles call for different fixtures, just as preparing and cooking on-site is quite different from simply serving food prepared at an off-site kitchen. This will not only affect the cost and functionality of the trailer in its eventual use, but will also directly impact the licensing and insurance costs.
A few of the major factors that should be considered are: