By Richard Traylor
Richard Traylor is an
Starting a food truck business can be a very daunting task. Because food trucks need many of the same pieces of equipment and supplies as full-sized restaurants in a fraction of the space, they require meticulous planning and designing. There are many factors to consider when outfitting your food truck with equipment, such as your power source, your hood space and your local health regulations. We've outlined a few things that you should be thinking about when designing and equipping your new food truck.
Electric, gas or propane?
When supplying your food truck with kitchen equipment, you'll have to choose between electric and gas appliances, both of which have their pros and cons.
Electric appliances take a lot of power to run, which can put a strain on your generator and may require a second generator to power your whole operation. While they may take a lot of power, electricity excels at maintaining a specific temperature, so consider electric for appliances like ovens that hold one temperature for a long period of time.
Gas is a cheap and plentiful source of power. It is very heat efficient, so you can heat up your food faster using less gas. Additionally, you can find gas at most grocery stores, hardware stores and even some convenience stores, making it easy to refill an empty tank. But, gas can be dangerous, especially because the small size of a food truck means that you will have to keep your highly flammable gas near open flames.
In addition to gas, there is also the option of propane. It has many of the same pros and cons as gas, with a few notable differences. Propane is more efficient than gas, so you can heat your food up faster. Additionally, propane is not a greenhouse gas, unlike natural gas, which makes it better for eco-friendly food trucks. But with the increased heat output and safety of propane comes a higher price point than gas.
It is also possible to use a combination of propane and gas in your food truck. Some appliances are field convertible, which means you can easily change your appliance to accept either gas or propane, depending on your location and needs.
How many ranges?
When buying a range, the most important thing to consider is how many burners you're going to need. Generally, countertop ranges come with anywhere from two to six burners. While the 2-burner option may be tempting due to how small it is, keep in mind what you're going to use it for. For medium and heavy duty use, make sure to get at least a 4-burner range.
Griddles: ventilation counts
Before buying a griddle, make sure that you have a ventilation system installed in your food truck to catch grease and prevent your truck from filling up with smoke and fumes. Depending on your city or state, your truck might also be required to have a sprinkler system installed for potential fires. Once you're sure your truck has the necessary fire safety measures in place, you can start looking for a griddle.
When purchasing a griddle, you can choose between manual and thermostatic controls. Manual griddles allow you to choose from several heat settings. Thermostatic griddles provide greater control over the heat, but have a higher price point. Additionally, some griddles have high walls to prevent grease from splashing and contaminating other appliances.
Fryers: safety counts
Fryers are possibly the most dangerous piece of equipment that you will have in your food truck, so before you buy your fryer, review fire safety laws and make sure that your setup is safe. Plus, when designing your kitchen, keep in mind that there must be a certain amount of clearance between your fryer and appliances with open flames to prevent any accidents.
If you're planning on using the fryer extensively, it is worth investing in a medium or heavy duty appliance that comes with several baskets, so you can increase your production. Additionally, some fryers have separate oil tanks, allowing you to fry different things at the same time without affecting the taste of the food.
Refrigeration: check the health code
Before you buy your refrigerator or freezer, check your local health code, since many cities and states have requirements that your appliances must meet. Additionally, you will want to take exact measurements before shopping for appliances, as some models of refrigerators need some clearance from the wall for proper ventilation.
There are many types of refrigerators, so you can shop around until you find the perfect model for your needs. For example, food trucks making a lot of sandwiches or pizzas are better off looking at pizza prep refrigerators.
If your food truck is short on space, consider worktop refrigerators or refrigerated chef bases, which have a flat top that you can use to stack other appliances or to do food prep. But, make sure to double check the weight capacity of your fridge before you decide to load a bunch of heavy equipment on top.
Dishwashing stations: three compartments
Even though they take up a lot of space in your already cramped food truck, 3-compartment sinks are a requirement. When looking for a 3-compartment sink, there are some things to keep in mind. First, remember that your sink must be big enough to accommodate your largest piece of kitchenware, both in terms of width and height.
In addition to 3-compartment sinks, the food code requires another sink dedicated for handwashing. For both 3-compartment and handwashing sinks, look for models that have high walls that keep water from splashing out onto your floors or contaminating nearby equipment or food. Along with dishwashing stations, according to the food codes, you will also need ample space to allow your cookware to air dry after washing.
Starting a food truck business and outfitting your kitchen can be an overwhelming process. What equipment and supplies you need in your food truck will depend on your business model and menu, so it will require you to do a lot of research on your own. But by planning thoroughly and doing your research, you can find success.