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Top tips for taking your restaurant on the road

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by Startacus Admin

restaurant on the road

With the UK's love of street food showing no sign of slowing down and the great British summer finally upon us, it's the perfect time to take your restaurant on the road.

Serving your food at local business parks, on highstreets, and in shopping centres is one of the best ways to build your brand and get more guests through the doors of your restaurant. If you land a pitch at a festival, it will also help establish your brand on the national stage, which is a great way to develop a reputation before you franchise across the UK.

If this sounds like the right step for your business, read on for all our top tips for taking your restaurant on the road.

Everything you need to take your restaurant on the road

If you want to take your restaurant on the road, you're going to need a food truck. This can come in many shapes and sizes, from a customised camper van to a transformed Transit.

If you expect the mobile arm of your business to become a permanent feature, it's a good idea to invest in a purpose-built truck. It will cost a lot more in the long run if yourestaurant on the road compromise at the start, as you'll only have to buy a bigger and better model down the line, so don't be tempted to skimp now.

However, if you're just testing the waters, picking up a second-hand food truck will help to keep your costs down. Finding a great deal on a truck or van is the first step in making this a success, so be sure to scour sites like Autotrader to find a good price on a used vehicle.

Unless the food you serve from your food truck is the same quality as in your restaurant, you can damage your reputation and put people off dining at your business. It's therefore important that you invest in some quality portable appliances so you can prepare everything fresh on-site — the range of commercial cooking equipment at Alliance includes everything you need to cook to the same standard as you do in your restaurant.

Getting licensed to run a food truck

The next step in taking your restaurant on the road is getting the right licences in place.

First, you should apply for a street trading licence from your local council at least 28 days before you plan on hitting the streets with your food truck. You'd also be well advised to join the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) too, as a membership includes liability protection up to £10 million. 

You need to make sure any gas-powered appliances are gas-safety compliant, and your electrical appliances need to undergo portable appliance testing (PAT) every twelve months. It's also your legal duty to provide hot-water hand-washing facilities and the correct fire-fighting equipment — read the government's guidelines on fire safety in the workplace to find out what you're required to have on hand.

restaurant on the road

Where to pitch your food truck

Now that your food truck is ready to go and you're fully-licensed, it's time to hit the streets. But where's the best place to set up stall?

If you want to get more guests through the doors of your brick-and-mortar restaurant, you should pick a local area that's going to get plenty of footfall. On weekends, the best spots tend to be highstreets or retail parks full of shoppers working up an appetite. 

During the week, it can be a good idea to set up at local business parks. Be sure to ask them in advance to spread the word that you'll be in the carpark on a certain day so potential customers don't bring a packed lunch.

If you're already established locally and you're looking to expand to multiple locations across the UK, you'll be better off landing a pitch at the summer's major music festivals. People from all over the UK descend on Glastonbury, Reading, and Leeds each year, and setting up a stall at one of these events is a fantastic way to build brand recognition. Festival-goers are also often happy to hand over a lot of cash to try new and interesting foods when hunger strikes, making this a great way to get a healthy profit too.

Taking your restaurant on the road can be a great way of building your brand locally and nationally. If you follow the steps we've outlined in this article, you'll be sure to build a strong following wherever you go — and earn a healthy profit, too. 

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Published on: 21st August 2017

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