The Ultimate Food Truck Catering Checklist
From permits to guest lists, employee lunches to wedding receptions, many events choose food trucks to cater their festivities. The reasons are numerous. They’re affordable, mobile, and at the pinnacle of culinary excellence. But they also come with a unique set of logistical challenges. There’s no reason to panic, though. So, let’s take a look at the food truck catering checklist you need to ensure your event is seamless, goes off without a hitch, and is the talk of the town!
1. Have a Clear Idea of What You Want— And Can Live Without
Before going into any event, you need to know its scope. Specifically, that means knowing your budget and how many guests are attending. Why? Because guests lists (i.e., per person) dictate food truck catering costs. If you’re unsure how to begin budgeting, online resources like Thumbtack can give you a starting point to determining base costs by location. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s your event’s theme? Is it a corporate holiday party or an intimate birthday celebration? The scale of your event will add to its cost. A good rule of thumb is to create a wishlist when planning but determine what’s necessary versus what are “bells and whistles.”
2. Plan Your Menu Carefully
The most essential element to your food truck catering checklist— after your budget— is your menu. After all, no great party is complete without great food! But what kind of food do you want to serve? Do you want your menu to be expansive or streamlined? Will it be a sit-down dinner or a cocktail party? We recommend booking a mobile bar that serves craft beers, wines, and spirits and pairing it with a food truck serving portable bites like empanadas for casual affairs. On the other hand, if you need large event catering, it’s advantageous to book multiple food trucks to accommodate varying tastes and dietary restrictions. Either way, it’s important to remember that one food truck can comfortably feed between 200 and 300 people.
3. Pick Your Location— And Where Your Food Truck’s Stationed
Unlike brick-and-mortar restaurants, food trucks come to you! That allows you the freedom to host your event where you want and on your terms. But keep in mind for your food truck checklist that the further your truck has to drive, you’ll likely incur travel costs. Similarly, food trucks in major cities generally have higher base costs because of higher demand. So, if you’re in New York or Los Angeles, make sure you book your food truck early.
Another complexity you’ll need to sort out is where you’ll station your food truck. Not all locations and venues lend themselves to food truck catering. For example, food trucks may be adverse to climbing hills because they’re lower to the ground with commercial-grade equipment inside. Or they may not be able to park on grass if there’s inclement weather because they may get stuck. Our advice? Arrange food trucks along the perimeter of an event, so they don’t compete with the focal point of your event and so they can operate without any unnecessary difficulties.
4. Use Your Food Trucks Strategically
The last thing you want to happen at your event is your food truck shows up late or leaves early. When booking, it’s critical for your food truck catering checklist to allocate enough time for set-up and clean-up. But aside from logistics, food trucks aren’t like traditional catering— where food is prepared in advance and held in warming trays. Food that’s cooked, made-to-order is one of the many reasons why people love food trucks. Giving them an extra hour or two ensures your guests are eating meals that are nothing but gold-standard.
With the 4th of July right around the corner, Americans are firing up their grills for summer barbecues. Another strategy is to book complimentary food trucks that match your event’s theme. Why not enjoy fun in the sun and host a backyard party for family and friends? Serve American classics from local food trucks specializing in BBQ and ice cream. Not only have you covered savory and sweet eats, you know your guests will be well-fed and well taken care of.
5. Work With Professionals to Handle Logistics
How much do you know about municipal, city, and state food truck regulations? Not much, right? When it comes to logistics like permits and insurance, your food truck catering checklist needs to include them. Keep in mind that your event will never get off the ground if you don’t abide by them, and every state’s laws are different. In Raleigh, North Carolina, for example, food trucks are only allowed on private property. This is where hiring food truck catering professionals is a lifesaver. How come? Because they’ll handle logistics from insurance paperwork to proper permits, staffing, and more. Plus, you’re free to enjoy your party and mingle with guests while they sweat the small stuff.
Plan a Great Party With a Solid Food Truck Catering Checklist
The success of any well-executed party largely depends on the catering. Delicious food brings coworkers, friends, and family together, no matter the time of year or reason why. But it takes proper planning from the ground up. With a strategic food truck catering checklist— and help from those in the know— you can deliver a great event that’s as delicious as it is memorable!
Learn about the history of the New York Food Truck Association. From how we got our start, our vision for the food truck scene, and so much more, get direct insight from a conversation with our President and CEO Ben Goldberg.
Food truck catering is an excellent way to elevate your event. Aside from the conveniency and cost-effectiveness of food trucks, mobile catering gives you the opportunity to choose a food truck design to match your event aesthetic. As a party host, this is a win-win: in addition to feeding your guests gourmet meals, food trucks are a way to decorate at the same time!
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