How to Start a Food Concession Business:

Dr of BBQ
Filet Mignon
  • Total Posts : 3716
  • Joined: 2004/10/11 20:16:00
  • Location: Springfield, IL
  • Status: offline
2009/10/29 09:24:09 (permalink)

How to Start a Food Concession Business:

This very long but it covers a lot of the questions that are often asked here in both the pro and hot dog forums. The link for the original site is posted below.

How to Start a Food Concession Business: part one and part two:

From roadside lots to sporting events, national parks to beaches, festivals to fairs, we simply can't get enough lemonade, hot dogs, ice cream and more.

And this is good news for entrepreneurs.

Starting and operating a food concession business offers many entrepreneurs a relatively low cost entry way into business ownership. It also offers a great deal of flexibility; concession owners are afforded the independence to work where and when they want, while growing their business at a pace that suits their needs.

However, it is still business ownership, and like all entrepreneurial projects it takes work and perseverance to turn a profit. As a concession owner you face an ever changing competitive landscape, fluctuating customer traffic (think about the influence of the weather), and the need to observe the laws and regulations that cover the food service business - just like a full-service restaurant owner.

Something else that you might quickly come to realize is that the concession business is a relatively closed knit community. This is evidenced by a real lack of publically available resources and information to help budding concession business owners get started.

All these considerations aside, operating a concession business is a great way to ease into the food services business and unlike traditional restaurant owners, you can easily up and relocate to a more lucrative area when times get tough.

Here are some businesses and regulatory fundamentals that will help get you started and on your way to successful and responsible concession stand ownership.
  1. Have a Business Plan

    If you are truly serious, a business plan is essential - and an absolute necessity if you want to secure any start-up or growth funds from investors or lenders., the government's official Web site for small businesses, offers many tools, templates and guides that can help you craft a business plan. Check out their "Write a Business Plan" web resources.
  2. Determine Your Business Structure - Do you want to go it alone or in partnership?

    It's worth thinking about. If you don't have family or friends who can help out with the day-to-day logistics such as manning the concession stand or trailer, setting up each day, catering, etc. a business partner can help. They can also help share the risk. Check out this earlier blog post: "Is Business Partnership Right for You?"

    For more information about business partnerships, as well as other alternative business entities such as incorporation, LLCs, etc. and how to go about setting them up, refer to this Business Incorporation Guide from
  3. Financing

    The entry costs for starting a concession stand are possibly the lowest that any entrepreneur will encounter. However, there is a good chance you will still need access to loaned capital to cover the costs of purchasing or leasing a trailer, equipment, and other start-up costs.

    If you don't qualify for traditional bank loans, you might want to look to a government-backed loan. What this means is that the government - through the Small Business Administration (SBA) - provides a guaranty to banks and lenders for money lent to small businesses, rather than lending the businesses money directly. Don't even think about a federal government grant as an option -- the government doesn't offer grants to for-profit businesses; there is no such thing as free money.

    The SBA Microloan program is an option worth considering if your financing needs are not significant. With a microloan you can borrow up to $35,000. The average loan, however, is a lot lower and can sometimes be in the hundreds of dollars, making this loan ideal for start-up concession-stand business owners.

    To pinpoint the exact loan based on your business profile and needs, use this handy grants and loans search tool or explore other loan options offered by the U.S. government.

Tips for Choosing a Business Name that is Unique, Web-Ready, and Legally Yours! – Part 1


Only a few years ago, choosing a business name meant picking an identity for your start-up that would feature in a fairly narrow range of outlets - your signage, invoice, business card and basic advertising.

Today, however, with the huge growth in the availability of diverse marketing tools with which to promote your business - from Web sites to social media networking  platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more - getting your business name right, first time, is more important than ever.

The consequences of getting it wrong can incur troublesome and time consuming business penalties. Consider this: If you operate a Web site and choose to change your company name, you will need to change not only your logo and Web content, but your domain name, too. While this is perfectly feasible and usually free, the impact on Google rankings and other search engines can have a negative impact on the user experience and your brand.

In addition, any references to your brand already "out there" on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums will also suffer from any re-naming venture.

So getting your business name right - first time - is critical. Once you are happy with your choice, it's also important that you take steps to protect it against trademark infringement and register it with the right regulatory bodies for the purposes of taxation, incorporation, licenses, and permits.

With all these considerations in mind, here are some quick tips for choosing a business name that works for your small business venture in a Web savvy world- and, in my next post I'll explain how you can make sure your business name is legal and protected.

1. Choose a Business Name that Makes Sense for Your Business

Before you pick the first name that springs to mind, think about how your name will be used. If you are simply starting out as a one-man-band freelancer it's very easy to just operate your business under your personal name. But, if you anticipate being in business for the long haul, you might want to consider a business trade name that can scale with you. Here are some points to consider:

Imagine how the potential name will:

Look (on business cards, Web site, advertisements, with a logo)
Sound (ease of pronunciation)
Be remembered (connotations the name may evoke)
Distinguish you from competitors (avoid trademark infringements)

You may want to avoid:
Embarrassing spellings, abbreviations, profanities, potentially offensive undertones
Implied associations with organizations/people the business is not connected with

2. Choose a Name that Works on the Web
Since we live in an online world, take time to research whether your business name is Web ready. Consider the following:

Conduct a Domain Name Search - This will help you identify whether you can actually set up a Web site with a Web address (domain name) that is clearly affiliated with your business. You can do a quick domain name search in the WHOIS database. It will let you know whether your preferred domain name, e.g. is available for use or not. If it is available you can claim it as yours early in the business naming process - long before you get around to creating a Web site. If the domain name has already been claimed, you may need to revisit your name idea. Read *Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name from *

Is your Business Name Email Friendly? - For the purposes of setting up a business email, consider whether your chosen business name is memorable and easy to spell. You may even want to consider abbreviating your company name to an acronym for email purposes. Also, if you or future employees have long names, determine whether your email naming policy will include first and last names ( , first initial and last name ( or simply first names (

Is your Business Name Social Media Ready?- As well as checking the availability of your business name as a potential domain name, take time to conduct a search of Twitter and Facebook to ensure that no other businesses or brands are operating in the social networking world with the same, or similar name. Even if you don't intend to use social networking tools to promote your business, any defaming or controversy that can arise online may unwittingly tarnish your brand.

Stay tuned for my next post on legalizing and protecting your business name.

8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business (
The 10 Commandments of a Great Business Name (
A Plan for when Changing your Domain Name - Tips from Quirk eMarketing

How to Start a Food Concession Business: An Entrepreneur’s Checklist - Part 2

A food concession business can be an ideal first shot at becoming an entrepreneur, particularly given its relatively low cost of entry and great flexibility.

My last post covered some of the basics of starting a food concession business: having a business plan, financing, etc. It also stressed the importance of understanding that a food concession business is still considered a "business". It faces the same rules and regulations as other businesses, despite its potentially transitory nature.

Following directly from last week’s post, here are additional resources for entrepreneurs starting a food concession business, from regulatory fundamentals to location and equipment needs.

1. Licenses and Permits

As with any other business, make sure you obtain and display up-to-date permits for your concession business. If you are mobile, you’ll need to get the right permits for all the cities or counties where you operate, not just your static business address. Check out’s "Permit Me" tool - simply enter your business information and location and it will show you which licenses and permits you will need as well as information on how to apply for them.

2. Insurance

In certain instances, state law may require that your particular business activity is covered by some form of insurance. For example, if you use a car or truck for business purposes, your state may require that you purchase commercial auto insurance for its use.  If you have employees you’ll also need to pay certain workers insurance. Refer to your state government insurance office for more information about what insurance your state requires.

3. Health and Safety Laws

If you are involved in food preparation, find out what laws and regulations govern concession businesses in the location where you operate. If you are a mobile concession, again, check food vending laws in the different locations you serve. You may be required to pass a food safety exam, have an official inspection, and so on.  Get links to your local government and state regulations here.

The National Park Service, which hosts about 600 concessions across the country, conducts periodic inspections of its concession program participants. It also conducts periodic checks of price lists and tariffs. Get more information about the National Park Service concession program here.

4. Location, Location, Location

As with any business, choosing a location can be a critical choice to make. First, ask yourself whether you intend to be mobile and service special events such as festivals or sporting events, or prefer a fixed location, or a combination of both.

Second, you’ll need to research, research, and more research. Find a location or venue that generates consistently high foot traffic, without the threat of too much nearby competition for your product.

Next, check with the owner or organization that operates that space and what fees they may charge - and see whether it fits within the budget you put together in your business plan.

You might also need to check zoning information, if the owner of the space you occupy hasn’t.

5. Food Service Equipment

Choosing the right equipment depends on your business model - i.e. whether you need to be mobile or static. If you are mobile, a food trailer is a good idea. You can buy or lease a vehicle from many sources, just do a quick Internet search and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll also need to research and get references from food suppliers. And, don’t forget that you’ll likely need chilled food storage facilities in your vehicle or concession stand; you’ll also need adequate storage space at home.

6. Marketing

Now you should be ready to get out there and market your business. Test a few options to start - flyers, word of mouth, special offers, ads in events brochures - and grow and evolve your marketing as your business takes root. For example, once you have established regular trade, you might consider approaching local media for endorsements or write-ups. You’d be surprised at the traction you might get with Internet forums, blogs and other social and Web-based marketing. Writers and food critics (wannabees and the pros) are eager for new material (and free food)!

Happy selling!

Additional Resources


    * Restaurants and Food Service Businesses Guide (
    * Steps to Starting a Business (
    * How to Prepare a Loan Proposal (Small Business Matters Blog,
    * Securing a Small Business Loan Quickly (Small Business Matters Blog,

post edited by Dr of BBQ - 2009/10/30 09:28:16

5 Replies Related Threads

    • Total Posts : 6028
    • Joined: 2003/10/14 14:56:00
    • Location: West Palm Beach, FL
    • Status: offline
    Re:How to Start a Food Concession Business: 2009/12/11 14:05:45 (permalink)
    Good info.. Thanks Jack!

    • Total Posts : 198
    • Joined: 2009/08/27 08:25:00
    • Location: pace, FL
    • Status: offline
    Re:How to Start a Food Concession Business: 2009/12/12 20:01:10 (permalink)
    Yes, good info..
    One thing I would like to add.....You MUST like to work Hard..I have always been in the the fast paced resturaunt world, in addition to my fast paced life of kids, grand kids, pets, hobbies, yard and home. I have been called things thoughout my life but LAZY has never been one..

    Just remember the mobile aspect of it, I could not be doing what I am without my I can DO ANYTHING husband..Moving, jacking it up pulling G.G.'s around, and making her a custom fit for our equiptment, the electrical work, generators, YOU know stuff...

    Then there are the constant trips to the store in the middle of big events, due to lack of storage, small units..

    BUT, I love it, I love to work hard.
    Nothing feels better than resting after an awesomely, hard day at work... 
    Ice Cream Man
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1370
    • Joined: 2009/11/12 21:43:00
    • Location: Ontario Canada
    • Status: offline
    Re:How to Start a Food Concession Business: 2009/12/12 22:14:47 (permalink)
    May I add.
    Be prepared to hunt and hunt for products.
    You will find just what you want only to find out the wholesales only want to deal with chains.
    You may think 20,000 wieners are a lot in a year but they will consider you small time.
    • Total Posts : 140
    • Joined: 2014/01/31 17:49:00
    • Location: Sacramento, CA
    • Status: offline
    Re:How to Start a Food Concession Business: 2014/04/18 17:48:38 (permalink)
    Great Post Dr. of BBQ, And  could not agree more Paceflchick. 
    • Total Posts : 11954
    • Joined: 2006/09/01 14:56:00
    • Location: Gilbert, AZ
    • Status: offline
    Re:How to Start a Food Concession Business: 2014/04/18 22:14:44 (permalink)
    The next step is Marketing your business and building your brand. I may chime in with some thoughts on that topic. Will be in a new thread.
    Jump to:
    © 2017 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.5