10 Essentials For Starting A Mobile Catering Business

If you’re someone who enjoys cooking and loves mobility, then mobile catering might just be the right business for you.

A mobile catering business is one that involves you selling food not from a stationed restaurant or eatery but usually in a truck, cart, or even possibly a kiosk. Some restaurants offer mobile catering services in that they allow the sale of some of their menu items in a vehicle, especially during ongoing events or funfairs.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the definition of mobile catering and how to start a mobile catering business. Kindly read along.

What is Mobile catering?

Mobile catering is the business of selling prepared food from a vehicle which could be a cart or a truck. Mobile catering involves selling food to the public on the streets, as a concession stand at a fair, or providing food to people in emergency situations.

Furthermore, mobile catering involves providing food in locations where a stationary kitchen is not available. It can be operated either on a circuit, moving from one place to another at established times, or setting up your cart or truck in the same location each day.

SEE: Taco Cart Catering

How To Start A Mobile Catering Business

Here are certain things you should do before starting a mobile catering business?

1. Choose A Location

Although your business is mobile, it’s important you decide on which location to travel to. Ensure you find a strategic location, where competitions are less and where your target audience is more.

Also, decide on where you want to prepare the food you’ll sell. Either in the truck, cart, or a place separate from them. Whichever place will serve as a kitchen would have to pass the health department inspection.

It’s important that you conduct research on appropriate places you would love to offer your mobile catering service taking into consideration that not all areas allow mobile catering business. Once you have known which location you will provide your service in, it’s advisable that you include them on your websites and social media pages.

2. Find A Niche

To start a mobile catering business, you need to find your niche. Normally, you will most likely be comfortable with sticking to the cuisines and techniques you know best, but the main point is finding a specialty within that comfort zone that no other mobile catering business offers or does best as well as you do.

Moreover, you want your mobile eatery to be distinct enough that, over time, customers come to associate it with a particular culinary product or even a specific menu item.

In finding your niche, think about exceeding other existing catering food businesses. Hence, you should make a survey of what people expect from a mobile catering business and use that as your selling point.

3. Create A Catering Menu

Selecting a food that you will specialize in is another thing to consider if you’re going into a mobile catering business. You’ll need to get creative with your menu items and make your menu stand out by creating and blending your own recipe.

Also, when creating a menu for catered events, you should keep your business and potential customers in mind. Furthermore, it’s advisable that you have a standard menu. The menu should include all the drinks, appetizers, entrees, side dishes, and desserts your catering service will offer.

Additionally, it should include a few catering menu packages and pricing. More importantly, consider the price of your competitors before concluding with yours.

SEE: McDonald’s Catering And Their Menu

4. Get Necessary Permits, Licenses, And Insurance

Before venturing into the mobile catering business, you will need to obtain permits and licenses. However, the documents needed to cater and operate a mobile catering business varies from location to location.

Therefore, it is important to make necessary inquiries and contact the right authorities to get permits and licenses in the city you would like to provide your service.

Moreover, it is crucial that you get all the necessary paper works without which you might risk losing your business or paying heavy levies. Most event venues will require that you submit liability insurance, food service license, and other paperwork before you’ll be approved to cater an event.

5. Draw Up A Business Plan

Another thing you will have to do is draw up a business plan that shows details about your concept and make a comprehensive financial analysis for the first three years of your business operation. This should include your estimated start-up and ongoing expenses and revenues.

Furthermore, you will want your business plan to include the cost of food truck licensing requirements in the area you choose to start your mobile catering business, the cost of health department inspection and safe food service requirements, the type of food truck or cart you’ll need and the cost, to mention but a few.

6. Branding

This involves having a unique theme for your business is known for. It could come in the form of a logo which can appear in your plastic bags, aprons, napkins, menu, and other accessories, even in the way you prepare your meal. Hence, consistency is the major key to how this works.

For the mobile catering business today, a new brand of vehicles is being built with concepts or themes, that carry through from the exterior design to logos, menus, and food.

Moreover, your concept design should be a means of distinguishing you from your competition and building your niche market. This would draw the attention of potential customers and create a sense of appeal when they see the creativity your business possesses and is willing to offer.

7. Purchase Necessary Gadgets And Equipment

For a mobile catering business, you will need a truck or cart to operate. So, it is important that you get this either by buying or renting it. More importantly, it’s necessary that you furnish your catering vehicle with equipment and supplies that are essential for your business.

For example, if you’re venturing into the Ice-cream catering business, you might want to purchase a soft-serve Ice-cream maker. Moreover, equipping your truck or cart with all the necessary things will allow you to effectively and efficiently serve your customers.

Here are some lists of equipment and supplies your mobile catering business may need to prepare food and serve orders depending on what food item you decide to sell:

  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Food processor
  • Food warmer
  • Thermometer
  • Worktable
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop
  • Cleaning agent
  • Utensils
  • Take out boxes, etc.

8. Choose Your Team

Another thing to consider is choosing your team members. The size of your mobile catering business and food truck or cart will determine the number of people you will hire. As much as you will want to hire enough hands, you don’t want to overcrowd your food truck or cart. The aim is to find a middle ground so you can offer effective and efficient service.

Also, when hiring your workers, it’s important that you consider giving each staff member a variety of roles. This way, you will limit the number of hands to hire.

SEE: Benefits Of Teamwork Skills

9. Market Your Business

Marketing yourself will allow for maximum profits. More people get to know about your business and the kind of service you offer. Through marketing, you get the attention of the right people. This comes hand in hand with branding.

Furthermore, you can offer discounts may be to those who other from your website. Also, distribute menus locally to help in the publicity of your business. Finally, get reviews from customers as this will help in promoting your business once you start.

10. Prepare for the Future

Mobile catering business-like with any other business needs the proper establishment of clear goals. Before doing anything else, decide where you want to be in 5 or 10 years. This can be a great help in keeping you focused and motivated.

Also, do your best to be ready for emergencies. Whenever you can, save some money for equipment repairs and other unexpected events such as an employee breakdown, loss, theft, and some other things.

SEE: Important Things To Know Before You Start Catering As A Business


How much does it cost to start a mobile catering business?

It will cost between $10,000 and $50,000 to start your mobile catering business. However, the cost of starting differs by location and several other factors.

What are the examples of mobile catering services?

Taco cart, ice-cream truck, hot dog cart, etc.

Is the mobile catering business a profitable one?

Yes, it is a very profitable one.


A mobile catering business just like every other business comes with its ups and downs but the key to succeeding is determination and consistency. It is important to know that at the initial stage, you might experience some challenges. But that shouldn’t discourage you as it is normal with every business.

Moreso, before going into this business it is essential that you implement all of the items listed in this article and if you need help it’s advisable that you seek professional assistance.

Finally, many catering services offer delivery services, so you might want to check KFC catering and Famous Daves Catering to see how they operate.

I hope this article helped you. Thanks for reading.