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15 Tips to Insure Your Food Truck Catering Event is a Success

by Steve Simon | last updated on March 29, 2017

Food truck catering for weddings, company picnics, and special events is a rapidly growing trend and for good reason! First of all, you can save a lot of money by using a food truck instead of going with a traditional caterer. Catering food trucks also add a uniqueness that standard catering just can’t. Plus, food trucks and their chefs generally specialize in particular types of food that they are very passionate about, and as a result, produce dishes that are out of this world! Luckily, food trucks can reach locations that regular kitchens cannot. Not just a hip choice, clearly using a food truck to cater your next event has many advantages.

Food truck catering also adds a uniqueness that standard catering just can’t. Plus, food trucks and their chefs generally specialize in particular types of food that they are very passionate about, and as a result, produce dishes that are out of this world! Luckily, food trucks can reach locations that regular kitchens cannot. Not just a hip choice, clearly using a food truck to cater your next event has many advantages.

To throw a successful event that your guests will love and remember careful planning is key. Food truck catered events, as well as corporate event catering and weddings are no exception. Read on for tips that will help ensure your food truck catered event is a smashing success.

1. Set a budget

The first thing you need to figure out is how much you want to spend. One of the biggest advantages to having a food truck catered event is that the savings are huge! Food catering services for trucks typically charge $10 to $20 per person, compare that to the standard $60-$70 per person traditional caterers charge. How much a food truck charges generally depends on upon how popular that truck is. The higher the demand, the higher the price. You can pocket your savings or use that cash to create special add-ons for your event. Perhaps you want to set up a buffet table with special sides to accompany your food truck or have a bar cart come as well. Many wineries and breweries now have mobile carts available. You can also use the extra dough to buy some additional decorations or to create custom wedding favors to compliment your party’s theme.

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2. Figure out how much food you need

Your guests will come in all shapes and sizes and how much they eat and drink will vary too. The cuisine food trucks serve is fresh, made on the spot and will be gobbled up eagerly by your guests. Make sure you have enough food on hand so they can go up for seconds or thirds! During a time of celebration, people tend to let loose, and drinking and eating more than usual is just part of having a good time. Be ready for it! The average food truck can feed about 75 guests so if you are expecting that number you might consider hiring two trucks, which can also add variety.

Selecting the right food truck for your event is essential. Keep reading to find out what’s most important to look for when picking a food truck.

3. Carefully select your food truck

Food trucks add excitement to any event and will help set the mood. Your choice of a truck will have a huge impact on your event. They come in a variety of styles and colors, some crazy and wild and others more upscale and subdued. If you’re looking for a fun, loud, raucous event, pick a truck that is brightly colored and perhaps even plays music. If you’re hosting a sophisticated garden party a cute little dessert truck with a simple striped awning would work great. Choose a truck that compliments the theme or ambiance you are trying to create. Decorate around the truck and integrate it into your event. There are a huge variety of food trucks out there. Be careful to do your research so you know exactly what your truck looks like and what it has to offer ahead of time. Your food truck will definitely add to your desired ambiance and make it a party your guests will remember.

Obviously, the cuisine you desire will affect your choice. If there’s a food truck you know and love, then that’s a perfect choice. Or, if you stumbled across a food truck you thought was awesome at a special event, look it up online and give Food Truck Invasion a call.

4. Create a custom menu

Once you’ve selected your truck or narrowed your list down to a couple, it’s time to think about your menu. By using a food truck to cater your event or wedding you have an awesome opportunity to share with your guests the foods that you love most or serve and celebrate local cuisine. Food trucks usually have awesome food. They typically specialize in certain foods and relish creating the best in class. Food truck chefs are often happy to prepare your specially requested items. If there’s something in particular you want, talk to the food truck’s chef or owner about it. One of the big bonuses to hiring a food truck to cater your event is that it gives you the ability to really get creative and put your own personal touch on the menu, so take advantage of it!

Select foods that compliment your event’s theme. If you’re going for corporate catering for a formal event there are plenty of trucks that serve high-end dishes, made even better with fresh or locally sourced ingredients. Yum! Loads of food trucks serve up casual fare too. Often chefs put their own personal spin on more standard selections, making even common foods outrageously good.

To keep things moving you should limit what’s offered to a few specialty items just for the occasion. Guests will be thrilled to have a few items to choose from since most sit down catered meals only offer one or two options. Plus, having to produce a long list of different things can greatly slow down the pace at which the food comes out, and the last thing you want is to have your guests starving and grouchy!

Another thing to consider is whether your guests will be standing or seated while eating. If standing, (assume they will be holding a glass in one hand), easy to handle items that don’t require cutlery will work best.

One fun idea is to create special names for your menu choices that your guests will recognize or relate to, like “the blushing bridesmaid”, for instance. Don’t forget with all the money you’re saving you might even be able to afford to have two food trucks. Then you can offer your guests an even greater variety of options and perhaps introduce them to some new palette pleasing fare.

Planning an event requires careful attention to the details, read on to find out what details you should be aware of when food truck catering an event or wedding.

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5. Attend to the details

Most municipalities have restrictions in place that determine where a food truck can be parked, at what time and for how long. They vary by the city so you will need to check with city hall and with your selected venue before the event. You may be required to get a special permit or insurance. Talk to the food truck owner. They are often experienced and know which locations require special permitting, etc.

One awesome aspect of having a food truck catering at an event is that it gives you freedom to host your party in locations that many traditional kitchens can’t reach. Want to get married at the park where you first met? Well, with a food truck that’s possible! You just want to make sure your food truck can get to the event. They often carry a heavy load of equipment and supplies, so steep hills can prove challenging for some trucks.

If you’re having your event inside check with the venue to make sure there is ample parking for the food truck and space for your guests to line up. Also, if the truck needs electric hookups you’ll want to make sure those are available.

6. Decide the best spot for your food truck

There are several things to take into consideration when figuring out where to set up your food truck. First, you want it where it’s easily accessible to your guests. Nobody wants to trudge a quarter mile in high heels to grab a bite. So keep it close to the main action, without making it the focal point. Setting your food truck off to the side but close enough that everyone can easily get to it is smart. Also, you may want to put the bar right next to it. That way guests can get everything they need all at once, and those waiting in line can enjoy a cocktail. Make sure the location of the food truck and those in the queue do not interfere with the main event. Keep it out of the way of the dance floor, DJ or band, and preferably not right next to bathrooms!

Another thing to think about is where the food truck should be for photography purposes. You will want pictures of it and with your guests gathered around it, but most likely you won’t want it in every picture. Your food truck can be a great spot to stage some shots and get some cool pictures to remember the event by. You may want to mention to the food truck owner that you would like the truck to arrive freshly washed!

7. Design your eating area

Think of your food truck as a super cool twist on the traditional buffet. Here you have a couple of options for seating. First, you can set up tables and chairs and let guests seat themselves wherever they want. This works well and lets guests flow and mingle as they like, while also having a comfortable place to sit and eat. Especially important if you’re expecting guests on the older side. A second option is to supply some high top or cocktail tables and stools, stocked with forks and napkins so guests can sit or stand to mingle and eat. Or, just supply napkins and cutlery in a central location to encourage guests to stand and eat. How you design your eating area is up to you and depends on the style of party you’re having and the type of food you will be serving.

8. Find out exactly what your food truck provides

Food trucks, and what they provide for events differs as much as the food they serve. So talk to your food truck owner and find out exactly what they will bring. Part of the beauty of using a food truck is that there are no plates to wash at the end. Paper plates are the norm and some food trucks will even provide them and cutlery so you don’t have to worry about it. If you don’t want to use standard white paper plates, or if you are having multiple trucks and want everything to match find ones you like and use them instead.

Some trucks even come with music. If it’s music you like that could save you the additional expense a band or dj would entail. If, however, you have your own music set up, let the food truck know so you don’t end up with different music sources competing for attention.

9. Letting your guests know

Having a food truck at your event is truly a novelty item and you may want to mention it on your event’s invitation. Older guests may not quite get it, since it balks tradition, but mentioning it ahead of time will help get them in the spirit to enjoy a more casual set up. At the event, you might consider having someone announce the food truck when it’s time to eat, and what it’s serving, so you’re not stuck herding guests. Funky creative signage can also get the word out. Most of your guests will be thrilled by your choice and love having fresh food that was cooked on the spot.

10. It’s all about the timing

Having a food truck adds another social aspect to your event because guests need to line up to order and get their food. However, you don’t want a traffic jam, so you need to carefully plan the timing. Set a schedule for when the food should be served and consumed and review it with your food truck owner or chef so everything is ready to go and everyone knows what’s expected.

Make sure to the schedule the truck to arrive with enough time to get set up before the event starts. You will want to have adequate time to add any chairs and tables around the truck and any decorative elements. Trucks should generally arrive at least one hour before the event start time.

Another great idea is to set up a fun distraction close to where the food truck line will form. Photo booths work well. People can pop in and take pictures while waiting in line adding another memorable aspect to the event. Roving performers, waitresses with cocktails or samples of the food trucks’ cuisine are also great options. Post a menu that guests can review while in line so they are ready to order when they reach the front.

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11. Hire waitstaff to make sure your guests are well attended to

Hiring a few waiters and waitresses to wander around and attend to your guests is a very good idea (one to five should do the trick depending on the size of your event). Have them pass out cocktails or Hord oeuvres. As your event progresses they can help clean up after guests. Food trucks don’t generally provide wait staff so you’ll really appreciate having some hired helping hands around. They should only cost about $10-$15 an hour per server, a bargain considering the stress they will help relieve. After all, even if you’re the host you want to be able to enjoy yourself!

12. Climate considerations

Another important thing to think about when planning your food truck catered event is the time of year. Summer and spring are usually ideal for outdoor events and the most popular seasons for outdoor weddings. However, in some regions summer can be oppressively hot and you don’t want your guests sweating in line. Make sure ample shade is available. Also, if you think it may be hot consider having a truck that offers pops, water ice or ice cream to keep everyone cool.

Don’t let the bad weather rain on your parade. Devise a backup plan just in case the weather isn’t perfect. One safeguard is to get a tent that can cover your food truck. Tents can create a cozy, more intimate environment. Tents also provide you with more opportunities for lighting and decorating. Little blinking white Christmas lights are sweet and Japanese hanging lanterns look super cool and are affordable.

Many food trucks come equipped with awnings which can be very useful for keeping guests dry and cool. Ask your food truck owner if they have awnings available.

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13. Late night munchies

If your event is going to run past midnight, you might want to serve up some late night munchies. After dancing and mingling for hours your guests will scarf down a tasty late night snack.
Talk to your food truck chef or owner, they will be able to provide some great ideas for late night bites.

14. Clean up

One of the biggest advantages of food truck catering an event and not going the traditionally catered party route is that clean up is a breeze. Generally food truck catered events use disposable paper plates and plastic cutlery. Many food trucks will provide receptacles so guests can just toss out their trash. Roving waiters and waitresses can collect anything that’s missed. Prior to your event be sure to touch base with both the venue and food truck owner about who will be responsible for clean up and waste disposal.

15. Combine vendors

Lots of people are using a combination of traditional caterers and food trucks to create the event of their dreams. If you like the idea of a traditional caterer but also like the novelty of a food truck, then have both! You can have a caterer provide the main meal, plated or buffet, and bring in a food truck for appetizers, drinks or desserts. You’ll still benefit from the excitement of having a food truck at your event.

Summary

Food truck catering wedding or event is a cheap and trendy alternative to traditional catering. You’ll not only save a bundle, but food trucks give you the opportunity to express your individuality and to get creative! You can use your food truck to help create or enhance your theme, add a custom menu and decorations for an event that is completely unique.

Food trucks are an exciting and memorable addition to any event. Plus, they offer a variety of meal options and high quality, freshly made fare your guests will love. The ease of clean up makes them even more attractive. So, if you want your next event or wedding to be a smashing success be sure to include a food truck in your plans!

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