Nowadays, food truck catering is the way to go when it comes to a wide spread of events – from Casual Friday office lunches to the most formal of weddings, and everything in between. The reasons why are plentiful, but begin with convenience – you can get just about any cuisine driven up and cooked fresh for your guests, all without using an inch of kitchen space. On top of that, a food truck vaults past traditional catering to become a full-blown experience for your guests.
Passion goes hand in hand with food trucks – whatever your guests are craving isn’t likely to be prepared in more exciting fashion (by chefs eager to prove their mettle) than if you grab it from a food truck. Largely chef-owned and operated, food trucks often take the cuisine they serve to the next level through design and service; making the experience far more elevated than traditional catering.
Most importantly of all, food trucks are a lot more practical than many other catering options, making them not only a great way to punctuate your event, but also help it run a lot smoother. Just make sure you’re doing it the right way. Below, we’ve got 17 tips to keep in mind when it’s time to book food truck catering for your event.
1. Lock Down Your Guest Count
First and foremost – figure out your guest count. It’ll affect everything, but primarily it’ll affect how many food trucks you actually need (click HERE to read a specific break-down of how to figure that out, by the way).
Guest count will change pricing, and give you a good idea of flow (especially if everyone is eating together), which in turn affects what kind of cuisine you’ll be wanting to serve.
2. Set a Firm Budget
Working directly in tandem with Tip #1, setting a budget is the bedrock of every successful decision you’ll make when booking your event’s food truck catering. Obviously, it will help decide how many food trucks total you’ll be needing (to properly compliment guest count), but also it’ll determine the specific trucks you can hire.
Budget is hardly the make-or-break element of a catering event that you might be lead to believe, as different trucks have different price points, but it certainly will inform your search. Most importantly – set aside extra money in case unexpected expenses pop up. Because they will.
3. Figure Out Where to Park It
Guest flow matters, as we stated above. But how many trucks you book aren’t the only thing that effects it. Where you actually park the truck matters a lot too. Make sure to keep it close to the action, but far enough removed that a proper line can form. Give the dance floor and the bar room to breathe, and your guests will be a whole lot happier for it (drinking and dancing are great alternatives to eating fast, if you haven’t heard)
4. Nail Down Your Cuisine
There’s a food truck out there for every mood – and every tastebud. So no matter the event you’re throwing, there’ll be a food truck to match. You can get alarmingly specific – from Mexican/Korean fusion to chicken and waffles. If you have a creative party theme in mind (or simply have a creative purpose to your party), you’ll find a creative truck ready to take your concepts to a whole new sense (the one that counts).
5. Narrow Down Your Menu
Just because you book the food truck doesn’t mean the whole menu’s coming too. Nor should it. Narrowing down your guests’ choices to two or three options is a restriction you’ll be thanked for. Not just by the food truck, who’ll have to prep less dishes, but for your guests themselves, who’ll get fed a whole lot quicker. Having trouble deciding? Easy – ask the truck what their most popular dishes are, and cut all the rest.
6. Set the Tables
Or at least…..set some aside. The final step in creating a great guest flow is giving them somewhere proper to flow TO. Whether you set aside tables and chairs for your guests or simply stash a series of standing tables (which encourages quicker turnover and more socializing, all at once), make sure you’ve got a proper destination for your guests to enjoy their food truck favorites. Setting a station for napkins and cutlery, halfway between the truck and your table set-ups is also highly advised to expedite eating.
7. Spread the Word
While a food truck is an increasingly trendy way to serve your guests, make sure they know it’s coming. Setting expectations for your event is the best way to make sure it all runs smoothly – and that starts with the invitations. More than something to be aware of, a food truck is something to be excited for, so build it early (while setting service expectations at the same time).
8. Timing is Everything
Food trucks don’t arrive ready to serve -prep time is big. So make sure to book your truck’s arrival for well before serving time. A truck that’s not rushed to serve is a truck that’ll serve WELL. By the same token, make sure you’re scheduling the truck with enough time to break everything down. You want to make sure service runs til all your guests are fed.
9. Hire Help
The food truck staff will be too busy serving (and cooking) to clean up after your guests, so hire a waitstaff to make sure every extra detail is taken care of. Budget around $15-$20 an hr for every server you hire, and you’ll be getting priceless value in return. Specifically, you’ll be getting happy guests and clean tables.
10. Don’t Forget Dessert
Depending on the event, you won’t just need the food truck for dinner. Food trucks specializing in dessert, along with late-night snacks, make for the perfect end to the evening, sending your guests home on the highest note possible. You can even mix and match service styles – opting for traditional dinner catering, and saving the food truck for the final touch.
What’s more, dessert and snack trucks tend to run slightly cheaper than food trucks for full meals, meaning if you’re looking to add a touch of trucked-out excitement to your event, but want to pay a bit less, a late-night truck is a perfect option.1