How to Book a Food Truck for an Event

To hire a food truck for your event, you’ll need to research food trucks in your area, contact them for quotes and availability, and then try to decide which one is the most reliable.

The normal process can be time consuming and deceptively complex. If you’ve never hosted a food truck, you don’t know what you don’t know.

It’s important to hire local food trucks that have great reviews, are reliable, have all their permits in place, and are good communicators.

After 15 years of experience in the industry, we’ve learned all there is to know about booking a food truck. And although we make the process easier by handling all the  research, logistics and work, we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the process.

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“Roaming Hunger works with our food trucks on a regular basis. If your caterer does not show, we’ll get you a replacement, order food at a restaurant near you, or refund you all your money back, that’s our 100% Service Guarantee!”

– Katrina C., Roaming Hunger Experience Manager

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Set Your Budget

The first step to hiring a food truck for catering is to set a budget. The average cost of  food truck catering is around $20 per person — but you can expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $45 per person depending on cuisine and other details.

The average total cost of food truck catering is between $1,550 and $4,550 for 100-300 guests. See on our website cost resources here. These numbers are based on our data.

Set your budget based on the number of guests invited, the amount of food per guest, how long you want the truck to serve for, and if guests are paying for their own meals. Some other factors that affect your budget are:

Location: Urban areas can cost more for supplies, permits, labor, and other service costs. Rural locations may result in travel fees and unique permit needs.

Date: Rates may increase on weekends, holidays, and last-minute bookings due to higher demand.

Cuisine: Less expensive food trucks include: snacks, desserts, and street fare food trucks. Entrees and multiple courses increase cost.

How Many Food Trucks Do You Need?

The number of food trucks you need depends on a few things. Standard food truck service is 2 hours and most trucks can serve between 50-100 guests per hour.

Keep in mind that each food truck is different. Some trucks, especially newer trucks that have not figured out their kitchen operations, can take 5 minutes to prepare one meal. Experienced food trucks can serve 5 people in a minute.

If your event is under 100 people, we usually book one food truck (unless you want multiple). If you need to feed 200-300 people in a specific time window, we reach out to pre-prepared food trucks that bring in the food ready to serve or hand out.

Two or three food trucks may be better suited for events with more than 150 guests.

Prepare for longer food service times and longer lines when serving meals with multiple courses.

If you’re doing the research yourself, speak with each food truck before you hire them to understand how fast they can serve. Truck owners should let you know how many guests and how much food they can accommodate in their service time.

In some cases, a food truck may not suit an event venue. However, many food trucks can provide meals by alternate methods — such as a pop-up tent or a cart meant for maneuvering small spaces.

Did you know Roaming Hunger makes the research process super easy? Just fill out your event information once and we reach out to dozens of food trucks to get you available options and pricing (all for free)!

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Select Your Menu and Cuisines

Selecting what cuisine options you want for your event can be helpful during the research process. If you’re open, think about the following things to narrow down the options:

If you live in a large metro area, you have a wide variety of cuisine options. Whether it’s fusion-style tacos, smokey barbecue, or creamy gelato, there’s something available for everyone’s tastes. Before you book a truck, research the best culinary fit for your guest list and event type.

For example, sporting events pair well with casual fare like hot dogs, fries, burgers, and other quick options. In contrast, formal parties like weddings usually require more elevated menus.

For large corporate events, consider hiring several food trucks to provide variety. Keep dietary restrictions and preferences in mind including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

If you need help with the research process, Roaming Hunger can help find the perfect match to plate your food.

From food trucks and trailers, to smaller carts and pop-ups, there’s a vendor perfect for any kind of indoor or outdoor event

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Find the Perfect Food Truck

Finding a food truck will be easier if you have some of the above figured out.

Now that you’re ready to search for and hire a truck for catering, you have two options:

1. Use a third party like Roaming Hunger:

With Roaming Hunger, you can have us do all the work. Just fill out your event details and we’ll get you available options (usually in 24 hours).

Instead of having 100 conversations with individual trucks, you can use us to get in front of dozens (if not hundreds) of food trucks in your area.

After we collect available options, you’ll get a custom proposal with all your food truck catering options. Each option will contain a catering menu and pricing. And if you have questions or changes, you’ll work with your Roaming Hunger Experience Manager to get everything resolved.

You can learn more by going to our food truck catering service page. “But wait,” you ask. “Isn’t it more expensive to go with a third party like you?” Well…we’re glad you asked!

In our experience, pricing can be the same (and sometimes lower) than going directly to the food truck. This is because our food truck partners know they’re competing with one other to win your business and book your event. While some trucks will keep their pricing the same, other food trucks will lower their pricing to fit your budget.

2. Do all the research yourself:

The process of finding and booking the best food truck for your event will likely take some time and energy, but you’ll be in the driver’s seat. If you’ve never done it before, there will be a learning curve.

When you search your desired cuisines and your location, you’ll find dozens of food truck websites (plus many listicles with others’ opinions on the best food trucks around).

From there, you’ll scour the internet for reviews and websites for menu options, and then contact each food truck one by one to see if they can feed your guests within your budget. The process usually takes a few days to gather options and then make a final decision.

One exception to a long research process is knowing exactly which food trucks you want beforehand. In this case, you will reach out to the food truck directly and ask for availability, menu and pricing. If all three match your needs, you’re good to go.

Finalizing Your Food Truck Booking

With the important details settled, it’s time to lock in your food truck booking.

If you’re hiring a food truck directly, figure out if you need to pay a deposit or everything upfront.

Make sure to finalize all your details ahead of the event date. For example, if your headcount increases, make sure to tell the food truck to bring extra food. The last thing you want is for the food truck to run out of meals during the event.

Finally, get any changes that you make or any agreements you make over the phone in writing. Sending an email with all your questions and changes will make sure you have a record of it.

If you’re working with us, we can usually help answer questions and get everything finalized with you (including questions you didn’t know to ask).

Once you’re ready to book, you can pay directly from your catering proposal by selecting the caterers you prefer and paying with your credit card. We hold the funds until after the event to make sure there are no issues.

We also support you through the day of the event. So if the food truck ever cancels, we have a chance to find you a replacement.

“We do all the legwork for you! Have just 1 call with me and I can have 100 conversations with different trucks, gather menu packages and pricing, manage all your logistics post-booking, and more. Anything you need, we can either take care of it for you or provide our expertise if it’s not something we specifically handle.”

– George B., Roaming Hunger Experience Manager

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Food Truck Regulations & Permits

For catering on private property, this is usually not an issue. However, if you’ll need the food truck to be parked on the street or in a public space, you may been to understand your local regulations.

There are regulations and restrictions for food trucks just as there are with traditional restaurants.

Where a food truck can park and operate may be restricted based on municipal regulations. These restrictions might mean that a food truck may not operate in a commercial or non-commercial space, near a restaurant, or in areas with noise restrictions.

Food trucks may also require parking permits to operate in parks, on streets, or in other areas. Permits range in price from free to several hundred dollars. Trucks serving alcohol may require additional licenses.

Your local municipality website or office can provide additional guidance and information about regulations and permits. Permit approval can take time, so be sure to account for it in your schedule and start your research early.

In terms of health permits, Roaming Hunger requires all food trucks in our directory to maintain appropriate health permits and insurance. Vendor insurance certificates are kept on file and you can access a copy anytime.

All the logistics of running an event with food trucks are covered by our Experience Managers and we check in with you every step along the way!

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Optimizing Food Truck Placement & Setup

Creating an inviting space is key for your food truck’s catering success. Use these tips to create an appealing food truck event:

  • Layout: Arrange food trucks in an area that allows attendees to see all their options. Keep in mind that food trucks usually need a flat surface to operate on.
  • Flow: Avoid bottlenecks and create a flow that guides guests to the ordering window, waiting area, and eating area.
  • Proximity: If the food truck isn’t the focal point of the event, keep it close enough to the main event that guests don’t miss out while in line for food.
  • Seating: Take advantage of venue seating options or provide your own to give attendees a comfortable space to enjoy their meals together.
  • Condiments: A stand-alone cart with condiments, napkins, and cutlery between the food truck and the dining spaces encourages guests to self-serve.
  • Waste: Provide multiple garbage and recycling receptacles, and empty them at regular intervals to avoid overflow. 

Enhancing Guest Experience

The quality of the food is only one piece of your food truck experience. To create a truly unforgettable day or night for your guests, consider the details of your event and food truck. Factors such as the venue location, atmosphere, customer service, and general theme of the food truck can contribute to a unique and memorable event.

With over 21,000 food truck partners, Roaming Hunger can match you with the best trucks that will compliment your event. Leave the catering logistics and planning to the pros so you can focus on wowing your guests.

Conclusion

Get your guests ready to dig into some local, delicious eats. Book a food truck with Roaming Hunger today by sharing your details with us on our Food Truck Catering page. We can’t wait to get your next event on its feet!