Food Truck Catering: A Guide for Event Managers
Street food or traditional fare? Unless you’re solely planning presidential inauguration ceremonies, you’ll see modern clients breaking away from boring, formal dinners. Even if the point of the event is to observe the union of a happy couple, the most memorable part of a good event often lies in the catering. If the food was bad, the rest of the event will suffer, too.
Nowadays, there are more catering options than ever. Your clients may not want to pay for the overpriced steak by the venue’s in-house caterer. Completely fair! But what happens if they suggest a food truck and you’ve never dealt with one before? Hiring food trucks has only become widespread recently. You may not have encountered this catering option in your event and wedding planning courses.
But you, as the event manager, need to know if it’s the best option for their shindig. Don’t know enough yet to call yourself an expert? Worry not! Here’s everything you need to know food trucks!
Casual street food:
So what IS all the fuss regarding food trucks? You’ve probably eaten your fair share of hot dogs and gyros over the years. But you’ve probably only enjoyed them on the side of the street or at a pop-up street fest. The key word being “street” as they are street food after all!
While some food trucks are stand-alone operations, many restaurants are launching their own mobile fleet of trucks for events. Technically, food trucks are a type of catering! It’s just a much more relaxed, informal way to dine. And, with the shared communal seating and fairy lights common at food truck rallies, they also impart a dreamy atmosphere. We enjoy a good seared steak dinner from time to time, but not every occasion begs for it. If your clients want cheap, tasty food in a casual environment, this is a wonderful option!
Events where food trucks are popular include:
As we mentioned, food trucks are gaining traction in certain sects of the event planning industry. Not all events need to be plated, sit-down affairs. And some, depending on the goals of the event, really shouldn’t be! If the goal is to provide a social atmosphere where people can freely move about, food trucks are the way to go! People can simply order what they’d like, and find a seat in a communal dining area.
Food truck catering is popular in the following types of events:
- Product Launches
- Community Festivals
- Team Building Events
- Socials and Networking Events
- … we’ve even seen one-or-two weddings featuring food trucks!
Why choose food trucks?
If the appeal rests solely on them being smaller in portions, some traditional catering options already fit those needs. Why choose street food over traditional canapés or hors-d’oeuvres? Let’s count the reasons!
- Livelier atmosphere: The hustle and bustle of the guests in lines, clanging of pots and pans, and order call-outs make the space informal and casual. This is the perfect atmosphere for intimate gatherings.
- More options: Most food trucks are themed. By hiring multiple trucks of different global cuisines, your chances of finding a wide variety of quality food increases. Foods are made by people who know what they’re doing. They specialize in their own food, so the chances of guests being disappointed are slim. With each truck offering different food, there’s something for everyone!
- Made to order food: Most food trucks achieve made-to-order freshness by paring down their menu. They can serve over a hundred clients an hour per truck! And chances are, they aren’t sacrificing quality for a breadth of mediocre options. Of course, quality ultimately comes down to your research and tasting appointments beforehand!
- Flexibility: Many people hire food trucks as the sole caterers for an event. But those who are new to the idea of food trucks (for private, non-corporate events especially), find committing to just this option to be risky. The beauty of such a flexible catering style is that you can incorporate it as little or as much as you’d want. If your client wants to balance traditional catering with mobile street food, they have that option. A wedding, for example, could have a traditional, seated dinner at the reception. Then, your client may want a Mexican-themed food truck to serve churros and tacos at the afterparty.
- Cheaper catering: As little as $10 per guest, this is certainly lower than the average cost of $50 per person for a plated meal. Why? Well, you wouldn’t pay for multiple chefs, servers, rental linens, and chairs since street food wouldn’t suit such formalities! Some food trucks require a minimum spend. This is often the case when hiring multiple trucks as more trucks equal more competition for tastebuds, leading to potentially lower revenue. However, they may do away with this upon becoming a preferred primary vendor on your list.
Food truck challenges and considerations:
You may think that it would be easier to go with a food truck than to try to hire a traditional caterer to work your event. You’re partially right. Some things are much easier. But food trucks come with their own challenges.
This is huge. Find out if the event is on public or private property. Some regions only allow food trucks on private property. And if you’re planning a street festival, you’ll definitely need a permit since you’re serving food on public property. The food trucks themselves are responsible for their own licenses, permits, and insurances regarding their mobile business. But you may also need to inquire about parking with the venue manager. Food trucks take up a surprisingly large amount of space, and some venues don’t want them potentially blocking their entrances.
Electricity requirements to power the truck may also need consideration. Although most trucks run on propane-fueled generators, some may want the convenience of electricity. If they do inquire about this option, consult with the venue prior to the big day. Some venues charge extra for electricity output!
Is there anything else we missed? Let us know!