Okay, so you’ve decided that you are going to open up a mobile food vending business! We have created a basic outline to help you with the necessary steps to opening up your business. Although the outline is intended specifically for mobile food vendors in Austin, TX, the process and regulations are often similar in different cities and states.
It is very common for foodservice businesses to form an LLC. You can find out more info here.
Before you can receive your Mobile Food Vendor Permit you will need to have a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit. You can find out more information here.
Although you may be able to find good deals on Craigslist for used trailers, there are also many great food trailer builders in Texas. One benefit of buying a newly manufactured food trailer is that the builders are usually knowledgeable about what is required to pass a City of Austin Health and Fire Inspection. You will also have the peace of mind knowing that all of your equipment is new and not damaged/aging.
Here are a few local builders to consider:
We recommend purchasing $1,000,000 worth of liability insurance and property coverage on your food trailer or food truck as soon as you purchase so that you are immediately protected from accidents or theft.
Tip: Many landlords require you to have $1,000,000 worth of general liability insurance before they will let you sell food on their property.
Before you can apply for an Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit you will need to register your trailer with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
In order to pass your health inspection you will need your Food Managers Certification displayed inside of your food trailer. You can find out more information and testing options here.
Tip: We suggest paying the extra money to have your Food Managers Certification stay valid for 5 years because the class takes a full workday day to complete.
This is the packet that you will need to submit to the Health Department before they will inspect your trailer and issue you a Mobile Food Vendor Permit. Inspectors from the Fire and Health Departments give inspections from 8am to 12pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Tip: It is best to arrive early in order to 1. beat wait times and 2. If you fail your inspection for a minor mechanical error, forget a necessary document, etc., you may be able to get address the problem and get your trailer re-inspected before 12pm
We suggest calling (512) 978-0300 or visiting the Health Department (1520 Rutherford LN, NE corner of Rutherford LN @ Cameron RD, Building 1 East Entrance) before towing your trailer there, as these times are subject to change. The Health Department Sanitarians can help answer any questions that you may have.
Finding a Central Prep Facility:
In order to complete page 2 and 3 of the Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit you must find a central prep facility to use. Many food trailers use their CPF strictly to dump grey water, get fresh water, and dump grease.
Here are some local CPFs in Austin
Tip: By using a CPF that specializes as a commercial kitchen to many different food businesses, the Sanitarian will be acquainted with the facilities, which will likely speed up the application process.
In order to complete page 5 of the Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit you will need permission to use a restroom within 150 from the location of your food trailer.
Please refer to the Application for Mobile Food Vendor Permit for more details about the fire inspection. We suggest calling the Austin Fire Department at (512) 974-0160 if you have any questions regarding the safety of your food trailer because the requirements listed in the packet are not exhaustive.
Congrats on passing your inspection! Finding the right location for your food trailer will be one of the most important decisions you will make. Make sure that you understand the rules and regulations regarding certain neighborhood.
This map shows areas of the City of Austin that have adopted additional ordinances. Ordinances may affect your hours of operation or proximity to certain structures.
Find out more info here:
Tip: Don’t be shy about asking other food trailer owners questions about their food park. They will often be happy to share advice with you and give you the “inside scoop” about their location!
Propane Delivery Companies:
Grey Water and Grease Removal Companies:
Texas Disposal To have grey water removed from your trailer OR portable restroom servicing.
Diesel Green Fuels To recycle used cooking oil
Kitchen Towel/Laundry Delivery Companies:
Food Parks in Austin:
We understand the challenges and needs of your business and are committed to supporting the mobile food community.
Not only do we offer food trailer and food truck insurance in almost every state, we insure many types of mobile food vendors, including concession trailers, food carts, pop-up vendors, street vendors, food stands, and catering trailers.