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.


Featured Client – Fire Truck Pizza

Featured Client – Fire Truck Pizza

fire truck pizza

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For February, we introduce Fire Truck Pizza Company based in North Royalton (Cleveland), Ohio.  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began.

We have been making pizza in a wood fired oven our entire lives.. it is how we do pizza! People started asking if they could have their parties at our house for the pizza alone and soon we were doing parties for 100 in our house! So, we decided to make it a business. Doing a food truck was less start up then a restaurant so went this route. We are in our 4th year and based in Cleveland, Ohio. We learned so much from the build process that we now also manufacture fire trucks with wood burning ovens!  Fire Truck Pizza Fabrication Company began in 2013. 

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Do you have any tips for first timers?

The first year out you have to do a lot of public events, just start googling “Festivals in (your city)”. You have to get your name out there and this is a good way to do it. Even though private events are more lucrative, you need to start somewhere. Another way is to do promotional events at places that will advertise for you like radio or local TV stations, your local newspaper, etc.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your trailer.

I attended a party as a guest where our food truck was doing the catering.  As I walked up to the house I saw the truck, our crew and how it was operating as a well oiled machine. It was great feeling to see it in action!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Don’t think you are going to start a food truck for less than $100,000. And don’t think for a minute if you want to survive off this business that it isn’t a full time job. Also, don’t think of other food trucks in your area as competition, if your city has a lively food truck scene it will only help you be more successful by working together.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

There are A LOT of food trucks in our area, and every year there are more.  So, we need to continue to come up with menu items and other things that differentiate us. It is a constant evolving business!

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Our city started a food truck association.  It is a great way to connect with others in the same business. We have a Facebook page that we can throw out questions and get quick answers. There are local business groups you can connect with also, just search for when they have meetings and see if it is a good match for you.

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

Social media is such a huge part of this business. We have a FB page, Twitter and Instagram, and of course our website. People get very mad if your truck location is not kept up to date, so make sure you do this! IF you have to cancel, make sure you announce it on social media. Once you have a following they really rely on this as a way to find you. People love pictures too, not only of your food but just of the events you are doing, it helps engage customers.

Check us out on our website, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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!

How to Conquer Food Cost in 2 Simple Steps

How to Conquer Food Cost in 2 Simple Steps

conquer food cost

Where to Start?

When you set out to conquer food cost, it may seem like a daunting task.  A large percentage of foodpreneuers consider the answer to item pricing is to charge whatever everyone else does.  There is a tendency not to deviate from what your neighbor is doing. However, evaluating ALL your costs, and in particular your food cost, is the ONLY way to price your menu items.

The issue with pricing according to competition? You are not considering what works for you and your business. It’s not a sustainable way to run a business and conquer food cost if you have a pricing structure predicated on what your competition is doing. If you are pricing simply by trying to predict what you think your customer is going to pay for your food, you will not successfully conquer food costs.

Yes, it is important to pay attention to your competition when pricing items.  Certainly listen to your customers, but don’t allow them to dictate your pricing strategy.

How do you know what your competition pays for their food? Do you know what vendor deals they’ve negotiated? What they take in salary? How do you know what profit margin is acceptable to them in conquering food cost? There are too many questions to consider. Regarding your projections onto your customers, the “Oh, they’ll never pay that for my sandwich” will never, ever work. Price your food to make money, always.

At the end of the day, if your product is not priced at a margin that works for you, your business is not sustainable. You will have to close your doors, or best case scenario live with frustration because you’re not making the money you want and conquering food cost. That frustration will translate into all aspects of your business. Your employees and customers will be able to tell if the business has “lost its soul” and sales will inevitably suffer.

So, if you’re ready to conquer food costs there’s good news, it’s a simple formula!  Take the time to “do your homework” and your business will thrive.

1. Calculate

Do simple google search on how to calculate your food cost.  It will yield you the results of a formula to see how much of your profit is going toward the cost of your food. Step one is always to calculate.

conquer food cost 2Take the cost of what you paid for an item (including all ingredients), and divide by what you charge for it. Food cost should typically be no more than 30% of the total price of a menu item.

I have seen many foodpreneurs multiply the cost of an item by three to determine what to charge the customer. However, a more precise formula is to take the cost of an item and divide it by the goal-cost percentage (in decimal form) you are looking to make.

These spreadsheets and videos on Wiki-How simply and effectively give you the tools you need to conquer food cost.

So if it’s this easy, why isn’t everyone making money?

The catch-22 is that making money is usually not 100% related to how much you paid for the actual food item. It’s related to ALL the other non-food-related costs associated with doing business. Those costs are included but not limited to:

  • Labor/Staffing
  • Rent
  • Commercial Kitchen and/or Storage Rental
  • Utilities (may or may not be included in rent)
  • Water treatment/disposal
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Advertising/Marketing
  • Events
  • Equipment Maintenance

2. Control

You may have heard that to achieve success in life, you’re going to have to let go of control. Delegate delegate delegate, right? Well, that’s true in one respect!  You do need to give your employees autonomy and set up effective cost-control systems to measure and track costs and profits. First you must control so that you can then delegate that control to others.

When it comes to food, it’s not what you expect, it’s what you inspect.

And you can only inspect what you measure and “control.”

Everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING needs to be spec’d out, measured, and cost-controlled.

Doing this is also a necessary step in conquering food cost. Steps in this process include but are not limited to:

  • Monthly Inventory
  • Production Sheets
  • Par Levels
  • Recipe Documentation
  • Measuring/Weighing everything that is not single-serving (this could be side items, toppings, sauces, etc)
  • Training/Enforcement of Systems
  • POS Tracking (where applicable)

Conquer Food Cost

Yes, it is POSSIBLE to conquer food cost. It is SIMPLE, yet not always easy.

The good news is that you always have the answer: You are the one ultimately in control because you are the one who gets to choose. You choose how it’s going to go.  What you’re going to value, how you’re going to price your product, how you’re going to communicate that to your staff and customers…EVERYTHING is up to you!

Special thanks to our contributor, Case Erickson.  Case is a Consultant & Commercial Advisor at ESG Realty Advisors.  He also produces the Trucklandia Food Fest in Austin.

If you need help developing cost-control systems or business coaching, Message Case through LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. He offers merit-based consulting. He only gets paid if you make more money, and saves clients 10% on average!

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.


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.