How To Start A Food Truck Business in San Antonio, Texas

How To Start A Food Truck Business in San Antonio, Texas

So you’ve decided that you are going to open up a food trailer or food truck in San Antonio.  Congratulations! We have created a basic outline to help you with the necessary steps needed to open up your business. Although the outline is intended specifically for mobile food vendors in San Antonio, TX, the process and regulations are often similar in different cities and states.  You can use this outline for starting either a food truck or food trailer.

Food Truck Sales Tax.jpg

Step 1: Filing a Limited Liability Company For Your Food Trailer

It is very common for food service businesses to form an LLC. You can find out more info here.

Step 2: Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit

Before you can receive your Mobile Food Vendor Permit you will need to have a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit. You can find out more information here.

Step 3: Do Your Research and Join the SAFTA

The San Antonio Food Truck Association is a coalition of trucks working together for the betterment of the mobile food community.  Look into joining and also look for owners who may be willing to mentor you or share their experience working within city limits.

Also, the City of San Antonio has a helpful page on gathering the items you’ll need for your mobile vending business by category.  Current regulations for the city are also listed here.

Step 4: Buying a Food Trailer or Food Truck

Although you may be able to find good deals on Craigslist for used food trailers or food trucks, there are also many great food trailer and food truck builders in Texas! One benefit of buying a newly manufactured food trailer is that the builders are usually knowledgeable about requirements to pass a City of San Antonio Health and Fire Inspection. You will also have the peace of mind knowing that all of your equipment is new and not damaged or aging.

Here are a few Texas builders to consider:

Smokin Joe’s Trailers

Sanchez Trailers

Custom Made Trailers

Step 5: Buying Insurance for Your Food Trailer or Food Truck

We recommend purchasing $1,000,000 worth of liability insurance and property coverage on your food trailer or food truck as soon as you purchase so that you are immediately protected from accidents or theft.  We have two helpful blogs that dive deeper into your coverage options:

What type of insurance does my food trailer need?

All you need to know about food truck insurance coverage

With a food truck, you will also need commercial auto insurance before you drive the truck on public roads.We can help here! Get a quote for your food trailer or truck

TIP: Many landlords require you to have $1,000,000 worth of general liability insurance before they will let you sell food on their property.

Step 6: Registering Your Food Trailer or Food Truck with the DMV

Before you can apply for a Mobile Food Vendor Permit, you will need to register your trailer with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles here.

Food Managers Certification.jpg

Step 7: Get Your Food Managers Certification For Your Food Truck

In order to pass your health inspection, you will need your Food Managers Certification displayed inside of your food trailer. You can find out more information and testing options here.

TIP: We suggest paying a bit extra to have your Food Managers Certification stay valid for 5 years because the class takes a full workday day to complete.

Step 8: Get Your Background Check

Request your background check at SAPD Records Unit at 214 W. Nueva (8 am – 4 pm.) The fees for local, state and national background checks are $59.25, only cash or money orders are accepted as payment. You will receive a response BY MAIL after the local and DPS background checks are completed (4 – 6 weeks.) This statement will remain valid for 90 days from the issue date.

Step 9: Set Your Appointment for Inspection

This is the packet that you will need to submit to the Health Department before they will inspect your food trailer or food truck and issue you a Mobile Food Vendor Permit. Mobile Vending inspections are done on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.  Appointments may be made by calling 210-207-8853. Inspections will be conducted at a site designated by the vendor (must be in City of San Antonio limits and not residential property).

The city breaks down specific requirements by operation, which is helpful when preparing for your inspection.

For a complete list of all mobile vending regulations, refer to City of San Antonio Ordinance Chapter 13.

Finding A Central Prep Facility

In order to pass inspection, you must find a Central Prep Facility to use. Many food trailers and food trucks use their CPF strictly to dump grey water, get fresh water, and dump grease.

There are currently seven approved commissaries in San Antonio that can issue Notarized Commissary Letters that will be honored by San Antonio Metro Health. Those facilities are listed:

  • B & S Mobile Catering and Vending Supplies · 2805 Commercial Ave 78221 · 210.924.5323
  • Best Foods of San Antonio · 5312 Rittiman Road 78218 · 210.662.7204
  • Pinky’s Shaved Ice · 1301 E. Elmira St. 78212· 210.385.6209
  • Myrna’s Catering · 161 Ward Ave. 78223 · 210.609.8585
  • TBS Foods · 1910 Arvie 78253 · 210.767.2222
  • Potranco Commissary · 12135 FM 1957 / 78253 · 210.858.8124
  • Cheesy Jane’s · 4200 Broadway @Hildebrand 78209 · 210.826.0800
  • Mission Trail Mobile Vendor, Waste Management & Services · 3500 Orkney Ave 78223 · 210.928.8285

Step 10: Get Ready to Hit The Road

Congratulations on passing your inspection and getting your clearances!  You are now ready to roll.  Be sure to check out the City of San Antonio’s website for all regulations that need to be followed.

TIP: Mobile vendors in residential areas can only operate from 7 am to one half-hour after sunset. In the months of June, July, and August, those units may extend their hours of operation to 10 pm.

Helpful Links

Propane Delivery Companies:

Absolute Propane

Garnett’s Propane

Grey Water and Grease Removal Companies:

Texas Disposal To have grey water removed from your trailer OR portable restroom servicing

Diesel Green Fuels To recycle used cooking oil

Kitchen Towel/Laundry Delivery Companies:

Admiral Linen

Linen Service

 

Insure My Food was designed by an insurance agency that gets food trailers and food trucks

We understand the challenges and needs of your business and are committed to supporting the mobile food community.

Not only do we offer food trailer and food truck insurance in almost every state, we insure many types of mobile food vendors including concession trailers, food carts, pop-up vendors, street vendors, food stands, and catering trailers.

Contact Us for a free, no obligation quote or if you have any further questions.  From our small business to yours, we’re here to help you succeed!

How to protect your Food Trailer, Food Truck and Equipment

How to protect your Food Trailer, Food Truck and Equipment

No doubt, you have poured countless hours, and what seems like an endless amount of money to create your food trailer, concession trailer, or food truck business. It makes sense to protect those investments with a good loss prevention plan to prevent all those efforts from being ruined in an instant!

Loss prevention:

An often overlooked first step by many mobile food vendors…how do you prevent a loss from ever occurring?

This is a smart first step for savvy business owners.  Insurance policies will have deductibles to encourage loss prevention and being shut down due to a loss is a huge burden worth avoiding.

1) Inventory your items. This can help recover stolen items and provide a guide to insuring for the proper amount. In the event a claim does occur, your preparedness will speed up the process.

2) Good lighting at night and visibility go a long way in protecting from vandalism and theft.  Think solar lights, motion detecting lights, etc.  There are also a plethora of inexpensive cameras/monitoring devices that are well worth the investment.

3) Take extra precaution in securing high theft items such as generators, cash, and computers. Keep them out of sight and secured when not operating.

We created a helpful printable checklist to cover these items and additional Loss Prevention topics here.

Property Insurance:

Even the most cautious food trailer, food concession trailer, and food truck owners can suffer a loss. Unless you’re prepared to replace your truck, trailer, or equipment out of your own pocket, insurance is a smart way to transfer that risk to an insurance company.

1) Determining the proper value for your truck and trailer is step one. The amount you should insure your truck or trailer for is the actual cash value. In other words at the current value, not the value it would cost to buy a brand new truck or trailer. This total should include any equipment attached by bolt, pluming, or gas line. To read more check out our other blog post, What is the value of your food truck or trailer?

2) Your contents not attached to your food truck or food trailer are NOT covered by the coverage on your truck or trailer. These items can be listed under contents separately. If there are any items over 2500 in value, they will need to be reported to the insurance company.

3) Since insurance companies typically insure property at a specific location this can cause gaps in coverage for mobile food vendors. You want coverage for property that regardless if you are heading to an event or at your main location. The term used for property that moves locations is called inland marine insurance; it’s a must for a mobile food vendor.

4) If you upgrade or buy more equipment always notify your insurance carrier right away.

Common Mistakes:

1) Thinking your auto or home policy extends to your trailer for property coverage.

2) Having a policy that only covers you at the address listed on your policy.

3) Assuming contents not attached are covered with your coverage on the truck or trailer.

Insure My Food offers affordable insurance, made easy!  We cover insurance for food trailers, food trucks, and mobile food vendors. We offer a one-page quick quote form.  In addition, we created helpful blogs and resources just for you.  Joel brings over a decade of insurance experience in helping you determine your proper food trailer insurance coverage.

 

Insure My Food 2017 Mobile Food Conference Schedule

Insure My Food 2017 Mobile Food Conference Schedule

2017 Mobile Food Conferences

**UPDATED 2/2/17**

2017 is shaping up to be a great year to attend a mobile food conference!  Three different states are hosting expos this year. Joel will be speaking at ROAM and the Columbus Mobile Food Conference.  He will also be on the panel for insurance, trademarks and employment law at the Capital City Convention.

Columbus Mobile Food Conference and Expo

Taking place February 25-26, The Columbus Mobile Food Truck Conference and Expo is back with new topics and more exhibitors. The conference will have over 20 workshops and seminars including an opportunity to attend a separate Food Manager certification course and exam.  The conference will also include some non-food related seminars covering topics such as “Mobile Boutiques”.

Capital City Food Truck Convention

Taking place June 3-4 (NEW DATE!), The Capital City Food Truck Convention is unlike any other conference and trade show in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. This conference gathers together under one roof the industry’s brightest chefs, entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders for two days of education, professional development and networking. The convention features workshops for aspiring and current mobile entrepreneurs, event and meeting planners and local government agencies who license and permit food trucks.

ROAM Mobile Food Expo

Taking place October 6-7, Roam Mobile Food Conference is the premier industry event for all things mobile food vending. From food trucks to carts to kiosks, and beyond, ROAM is the first of its kind serving North America’s mobile vending professionals. The perfect event to attend if you own or want to start your own food truck! You will learn about best practices, innovations and trends in mobile vending technology and operations. Also, grow your network with fellow professionals. Suppliers are located in the conference exhibit area to support your growing business!

Proper Food Trailer Insurance Coverage Basics

Proper Food Trailer Insurance Coverage Basics

Proper Food Trailer Insurance Coverage Basics

proper coverage basics for food trailer insurance

Standard restaurant insurance policies can, unfortunately, leave gaps in coverage for a mobile food vendor.  All too often, insurance agencies don’t fully understand your unique needs when searching for proper food trailer insurance coverage. At Insure My Food, you should know we get mobile food vendors and understand proper food trailer insurance coverage needs.  We offer a competitive insurance policy for food trailers, food trucks, and mobile food vendors.  Due to our experience insuring mobile food vendors, we’re confident we can help you avoid gaps.

Common Mistakes

  • Having property coverage that is limited to just the business address (this is standard practice). Meaning if you go to an event away from your primary location, you lose coverage.  Food trailer insurance coverage needs to be treated differently because you are a mobile business.
  • Using a business owner policy designed for a restaurant, and not for a mobile food vendor operation.

Types of risk Food Trailers and Food Trucks are exposed to are as follows:

In the following examples, you would be responsible for these bills and losses!

Bodily Injury:

Let’s say a customer buys a hot dog from your stand. While eating the hot dog, the customer suddenly chips a tooth on something hard contained inside the hot dog. The customer incurs $700 in medical expenses and $6,000 in corrective dental expenses.

Premise Liability:

Customers are within the premises you occupy choosing the perfect meal. A customer trips over an extension cord lying on the ground and sprains a knee. The customer incurs $1,200 in medical expenses for x-rays and $3,500 in lost wages.

Theft:

In addition to the above, you also need to cover your bases if a theft occurs.  Say the day is over and your trailer is stored for the evening. While you sleep peacefully, thieves are at work!  You awake to find it has been stolen. Therefore, you will now need to spend $15,000 on a new food trailer and equipment.  What a major bummer!

The above are just a sample of some of the situations you can be exposed to as a mobile food vendor.  Don’t settle for food trailer insurance coverage with someone who doesn’t understand this business.  It may seem like a “good deal,” but the gaps in coverage are not worth the risk!

The Insure My Food advantages included:

  • Options for standalone General liability coverage (or package coverage to include property coverage)
  • No liability deductible
  • General Liability limits up to 2 million
  • Security of “A” rated carrier or better
  • Coverage for your trailer or truck
  • Competitive pricing
  • No charge for adding additional insured’s (commissary kitchen, events, etc.)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Insure My Food offers affordable insurance, made easy!  We cover insurance for food trailers, food trucks, and mobile food vendors. We offer a one page quick quote form, or check out our other blogs and resources created for you.  Joel brings over a decade of insurance experience in helping you determine your proper food trailer insurance coverage.

What is the value of your food truck or trailer?

What is the value of your food truck or trailer?

food truck valueYou have poured countless hours and money into getting your mobile food business off the ground, and you want to make sure your investment is protected, right?  The first question we will ask you is “What is your food trailer or food truck value and what do you want it insured for?”

…crickets! What a loaded question! Let’s dive into how to find the appropriate food trailer or food truck value for you.

Step one:

To determine what you should insure your food trailer or truck for, you need to know a little insurance lingo in determining your food truck value.

Insurance companies pay property claims two main ways:

1) Actual cash value (ACV) covers your property at the current market value. Meaning what the property worth is today.  This takes into consideration the age, condition, and “useful life” left. This is how most insurance companies cover vehicles, trailers, and equipment.

2) Replacement cost (RC) covers your property to buy brand new like kind and quality regardless of age and condition. This coverage is typically only offered on buildings and their contents.

Step two:

Now that you understand how insurance companies value food truck and trailer property at actual cash value, we have a target in mind.

Below is a formula to get you closer.

What you paid for the trailer/truck + What you invested after you bought it (Labor and Parts) = The value.

I know you are saying right about now I did most of the work! However, you do need to add this “labor cost” into the calculation.

To get more comfortable with the value you calculated above; it helps to look on eBay.  You can also look at a truck for sale sites such as Used Vending or Roaming Hunger’s Directory of Trucks for sale.

Ross of Ross RV and Food Carts has also offered to help if you want to discuss with him.

Step three:

Now is not the time to round down to the value of your truck or trailer.  Insurance companies require you to insure to value.  If you don’t, you can be subject to coinsurance penalties, come claim time and nobody is into that!

For example, if your trailer is valued at $35,000, but you only insured it for $20,000. The insurance company will only pay 57% of the claim because you only insured 57% of the value. Ouch!

The reason insurance companies take insuring to value so seriously is without this constant, there is no way to accurately rate insurance cost.

 

We hope this helps you as you are determining your food truck or food trailer value.  As always, we are happy to answer any questions you have in this process.  Give Joel a call at (800) 985-7859 or shoot an email to info@insuremyfood.com.  With over a decade of experience as a Certified Insurance Counselor, he has seen it all!

 

How To Start A Food Trailer or Food Truck Business in Austin, TX

How To Start A Food Trailer or Food Truck Business in Austin, TX

So you’ve decided that you are going to open up a food trailer or food truck, congratulations! We have created a basic outline to help you with the necessary steps needed to open up your business. Although the outline is intended specifically for mobile food vendors in Austin, TX, the process and regulations are often similar in different cities and states.

Food Truck Sales Tax.jpg

Step 1: Filing a Limited Liability Company For Your Food Trailer

It is very common for food service businesses to form an LLC. You can find out more info here.

Step 2: Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit

Before you can receive your Mobile Food Vendor Permit you will need to have a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit. You can find out more information here.

Step 3: Join The Austin Food Trailer Chamber Google Group

This is a free and open email group that a few industry heavy hitters in Austin (Trish from Capital Kitchen, Case from Trucklandia, Phyllis from Cheesecake experience and I) started. There are currently over 200 trailer owners in the group. You can ask questions, post answers and tips for others or can search the archives. Send an email to be added to the group.

Step 4: Buying a Food Trailer or Food Truck

Although you may be able to find good deals on Craigslist for used food trailers or food trucks, there are also many great food trailer and food truck builders in Texas. One benefit of buying a newly manufactured food trailer is that the builders are usually knowledgeable about what is required to pass a City of Austin Health and Fire Inspection. You will also have the peace of mind knowing that all of your equipment is new and not damaged or aging.

Here are a few local builders to consider:

Smokin Joe’s Trailers

Sanchez Trailers

Custom Made Trailers

Food Trailer Insurance.jpg

Step 5: Buying Insurance for Your Food Trailer or Food Truck

We recommend purchasing $1,000,000 worth of liability insurance and property coverage on your food trailer or food truck as soon as you purchase so that you are immediately protected from accidents or theft.

With a food truck, you will also need commercial auto insurance before you drive the truck on public roads.

We can help here! Get a quote for your food trailer or truck

TIP: Many landlords require you to have $1,000,000 worth of general liability insurance before they will let you sell food on their property.

Step 6: Registering Your Food Trailer or Food Truck with the DMV

Before you can apply for an Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit, you will need to register your trailer with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles here.

Food Managers Certification.jpg

Step 7: Get Your Food Managers Certification For Your Food Truck

In order to pass your health inspection, you will need your Food Managers Certification displayed inside of your food trailer. You can find out more information and testing options here.

 

TIP: We suggest paying a bit extra to have your Food Managers Certification stay valid for 5 years because the class takes a full workday day to complete.

Step 8: Get The Application For Your Mobile Food Vendor Permit

This is the packet that you will need to submit to the Health Department before they will inspect your food trailer or food truck and issue you a Mobile Food Vendor Permit. Inspectors from the Fire and Health Departments give inspections from 7:45am to 11pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

TIP: It is best to arrive early in order to beat wait times.  Also, if you fail your inspection for a minor mechanical error, forget a necessary document, etc., you may be able to correct the problem and get your trailer re-inspected before 11pm.

We suggest calling (512) 978-0300 or visiting the Health Department (1520 Rutherford LN, NE corner of Rutherford LN @ Cameron RD, Building 1 East Entrance) before towing your trailer there, as the times are subject to change. The Health Department Sanitarians can help answer any questions that you may have.

Finding A Central Prep Facility

In order to complete page 2 and 3 of the Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit you must find a Central Prep Facility to use. Many food trailers and food trucks use their CPF strictly to dump grey water, get fresh water, and dump grease.

Here are some local CPFs in Austin

Capital Kitchens

Just Add Chef

Hudson Bend Commercial Kitchen

Manon’s Shared Kitchen

TIP: By using a CPF that specializes as a commercial kitchen to many different food businesses, the Sanitarian will be acquainted with the facilities, which will likely speed up the application process.

City of Austin Restroom Facility Agreement

In order to complete page 5 of the Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit you will need permission to use a restroom within 150 feet from the location of your food trailer.

fire inspection.jpg

Passing Your Fire Inspection

AAA Fire & Safety Equipment

Longhorn Fire and Safety

Ace Fire Equipment

Please refer to the Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit for more details about the fire inspection. We suggest calling the Austin Fire Department at (512) 974-0160 if you have any questions regarding the safety of your food trailer because the requirements listed in the packet are not exhaustive.

Step 9: Finding a Location for Your Food Trailer

Congratulations on passing your inspection! Finding the right location for your food trailer will be one of the most important decisions you will make. Make sure that you understand the rules and regulations regarding certain neighborhoods.

This map shows areas of the City of Austin that have adopted additional ordinances. Ordinances may affect your hours of operation or proximity to certain structures.

Find out more info here:

Mobile Food Establishments Codes

TIP: Don’t be shy about asking other food trailer owners questions about their food park. They will often be happy to share advice with you and give you the “inside scoop” about their location! Or join the Austin Food Trailer Chamber and ask around there (It’s free!) Send us an email to add you to the Google group.

Helpful Links

Propane Delivery Companies:

Absolute Propane

Garnett’s Propane

Grey Water and Grease Removal Companies:

Texas Disposal To have grey water removed from your trailer OR portable restroom servicing

Diesel Green Fuels To recycle used cooking oil

Kitchen Towel/Laundry Delivery Companies:

Admiral Linen

Linen Service

Food Parks in Austin:

Austin Food Park

The Midway Food Park

Mueller Trailer Eats

The Picnic

The Thicket

The University Co-Op

Insure My Food was designed by an insurance agency that gets food trailers and food trucks

We understand the challenges and needs of your business and are committed to supporting the mobile food community.

Not only do we offer food trailer and food truck insurance in almost every state, we insure many types of mobile food vendors including concession trailers, food carts, pop-up vendors, street vendors, food stands, and catering trailers.

 

Contact Us for a free, no obligation quote or if you have any further questions.  From our small business to yours, we’re here to help you succeed!