The food truck business has grown so much in Greenville that the city’s visitor website has a page dedicated to the list of trucks that serve the area. The more than 20 food trucks listed include everything from tacos to pizza to sandwiches.
The food trucks vary from independent operations to extensions of existing restaurants. Table 301, which includes restaurants like Soby’s and The Lazy Goat, also has what it calls Highway 301, which takes Table 301 on the road. Coastal Crust started in Charleston and expanded to Greenville with a food and catering truck. It recently announced the opening of a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Village of West Greenville. The company’s Greenville truck is a restored 1955 Chevy outfitted with a wood-fired Mugnaini pizza oven offering an Italian menu on wheels.
The Chuck Truck website has a photo slideshow that shows the transformation of a Fed-Ex delivery truck into a food truck that specializes in “backyard burgers.”
A study by Compare the Market, a U.K.-based comparison website, found that the overall operation of a food truck is $46,718 cheaper than operating a restaurant. The biggest difference for a food truck operation is in the upfront cost of a van and premises insurance, which the study shows to cost about $20,600. The upfront cost of having a restaurant is $67,318 — when renting, not purchasing space — and in addition to insurance includes cooking equipment, seating and layout and a point of sale system.
Licensing, which includes business registration, liquor license and food handler’s permit, is a bit higher for a food truck than a restaurant, $9,050 versus $8,662 respectively, because of the cost of vehicle registration and food truck application, the study shows.
Recurring costs, like annual insurance fees, monthly point of sale system fees and utilities, are about the same when comparing a food truck and a restaurant — $12,929 and $13,292 respectively.
Total cost for a food truck, including upfront costs, is $42,572; for a restaurant that number is $89,272.
Food trucks offer the opportunity for entrepreneurs to forge their own path, build a brand serving food they love and achieve financial freedom, according to Food Truck Empire, an online resource for the food truck business. Brett Lindenberg, creator of FoodTruckEmpire.com, says operating a restaurant on wheels is a lifestyle business “that requires an incredible level of dedication and hard work to get going. It’s not for everybody.” Lindenberg has a quick checklist on the Food Truck Empire website that outlines important steps for would-be food truck owners to follow.