Getting NYC street food concession up and running

Junior Burger
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2006/06/12 12:42:40 (permalink)

Getting NYC street food concession up and running

Hi. I'm an experienced NYC restaurant cook who's been doing a lot of research about street food, with the idea of getting my own food concession going as soon as possible. I'd appreciate whatever info and advice those of you with actual experience and knowledge in the area can provide me with.

My particular plan is to do something with the great BBQ recipes I've been developing, and I'll probably start a post in the BBQ forum as well, soliciting advice on that specific food group.

For now, my questions are of a more generic nature about selling whatever kind of street food in NYC.

Can a food cart or truck be rented or leased? If so, where and for how much?So far, my research has only found people willing to sell their carts/businesses but I haven't found anyone willing to rent or lease one. Used carts seem to start at about $4,000. Can anyone suggest a better way of starting up on a small budget? My ideal situation would be to rent a lunch/catering truck, but I have a feeling that would be cost prohibitive, and I'll probably wind up with a cart.

Is it necessary to create a corporation or an LLP? I"ve been told no, but it seems the potential liability in this business would make it essential. Anyone with some perspective on the subject or the name of a lawyer/accountant who specializes in this area?

Insurance. Is it necessary? How much?

Does everyone bring their cart to their locations or are their any services that will bring the cart to my location and pick it up at day's end? Right now, I don't have a car so I'm hoping to avoid that expense too. Any suggestions? Also, is an SUV required to haul a cart, or will a regular car do the trick? Do you need a special license to haul a food trailer? How did you all learn to maneuver a trailer? Should the towing vehicles owned/insured by the corporation/llp? If I need to rent a car at the start, are there any contractual prohibitions against towing a commercial trailer?

I've been trying to locate a good licensed parking depot/commissary kitchen, either in Manhattan or Queens. The City Dept. of Health grudgingly gave me the names and addresses of four of them, like I was asking for their personal gold or something. Can anyone recommend a particular one that they like? How much can I expect to pay to store my vehicle and prep my food? Do they usually provide refrigeration/storage facilities? Do some have better prep kitchens for those of us with more elaborate prep needs? Are there any other considerations I should take into account that I might not have thought of?

Are there any other significant costs I might not have recognized yet?

Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

5 Replies Related Threads

    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Getting NYC street food concession up and running 2006/06/12 13:37:21 (permalink)
    If you plan on doing bbq, check out Adam Perry Lang's Daisy Mays BBQ. Read some of the articles on the site as well as check out the cart section. You may also want to "google" Adam Perry Lang and/or Daisy Mays BBQ to read stories about the trials and tribulations Lang had to endure to get his BBQ carts on the streets of NYC. It wasn't easy. Best of luck to you in this new adventure.


    Born in Chicago
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    Selling Vienna Beef hot dogs & Polish
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    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Getting NYC street food concession up and running 2006/06/12 13:38:03 (permalink)
    From what I understand NYC street vendors can be VERY territorial. You may need to grease some palms just to be able to set up in a good location without harassment. Just something to consider.
    Junior Burger
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    RE: Getting NYC street food concession up and running 2006/06/12 19:30:18 (permalink)
    Well, I'm in the same boat as you are (trying to start a street vending business on a small budget). I recently had a very lengthy conversation with a vendor who has a nice trailer and has been in the business for 20 years. He basically told me to start out small. He actually BEGGED ME to not make a large investment in a truck (or trailer) yet, but perfect my cooking craft, make some money and build up a client base FIRST. Sound advice if you ask me.

    Instead of renting a truck, you would be better served getting a 10x10 or 10x15 tent (check out the ones at and get a portable 3 or 4 compartment sink with hot water heater (check the ones on ebay). Pass your food service manager certification course and are in business! If your food is good and if you have a decent location, you will soon have the $4,000 PLUS to pay for a decent used truck. That was the advice that I was given, and the route that my company is taking....for now. Hope that helps.
    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Getting NYC street food concession up and running 2006/06/13 08:01:23 (permalink)
    perhaps you should think small, like a cart that you can pull with your hands. the real small carts. get yourself a little smoker on there, and go to town....
    on a shoestring budget, its a real tough business to start. you got nothing to live off of while drumming up business.
    good luck....
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Getting NYC street food concession up and running 2006/06/13 16:14:29 (permalink)
    PULLING a trailer isn't difficult, you just have to allow more space when manuvering, basically remember its back there and how long it is.
    Backing a trailer is a whole different hotdog and takes some practice, I can back a 40' and put it right where I want, but put an 8' utility trailer behind my p/u and I'll be ripping out hair just trying to get it to back straight. That being said the best way to back a trailer, put your hand at 6 oclock on the steering wheel, if you want the trailer to go right, move your hand a little bit right, a VERY little, the shorter the trailer the more touchy it is to movement. and practice practice practice, a BIG parking lot is best
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