A step-by-step guide to organising and running your own street food market or food truck event
Street food markets, food truck festivals and outdoor events are a big part of the dining experience in the UK and US and are a continually growing industry.
And there could be possibly an even greater demand for this cheap eating and social event as more and more restaurants close as a result of the global pandemic of 2020.
So if you have landed on this article you may be thinking about organizing your own street food market, food truck festival or outdoor food and drink event.
Below is an easy step-by-step guide on how to organize a food truck event. From finding the right location, getting food traders onboard, marketing your event and everything in between.
- Find a location
- Site Layout
- Get people on board
- Get the right insurance and licences
- Get equipment
- Create a website
- Find food vendors
- Find live entertainment
- Market your event
- Key takeaway
Find a location
Location is key when organizing your own food truck or street food market or festival and can make or break you.
It has to be in a residential area where either people live or a commercial area where you get shoppers, office workers and tourists.
Festivals, on the other hand, can be held in green spaces such as fields.
At the time of writing (August 2020) we are living through a global pandemic and big structural shifts are taking place.
It’s hard to judge at the moment but cities may not be such busy locations if large sections of the workforce continue to from home, which they have been since March 2020.
However, suburban areas such as towns and villages could be the way to go as these are locations that have been doing well during this time.
The point is to choose where you hold your street food market or food truck festival wisely before making any personal and financial investments.
Another part of choosing the right location for your street food market is the layout and logistics of the site.
So, for example, is there enough access for food trucks and traders to get on-site and set up?
Is there enough square footage for all the food trucks, street food stalls, your own event equipment and the customers?
If you are not providing your own generators Are there public power points on the ground?
Get people on board
Even small events such as food and drink markets can take a lot of resources to organize and run.
It’s therefore wise to get other people involved, whether that’s a business partner, friends or family or even volunteers and paid staff.
If you are planning community food and drink events it is also worth getting the local community involved in the planning and execution.
Just don’t try to organise a street food market all on your own.
Get the right insurance and licences
When organising and running any type of event you are going to need the relevant licences and permits.
It’s very important to get this right as it will cover you against any claims and the costly expenses that come in the event of something going wrong.
And depending on what country you’re in will determine what licences and permits you need.
In the UK you will need the following:
- Public Liability insurance – covers you against claims from people attending event and damage to other businesses
- Employers Liability insurance – legally required if you employ paid staff to help organise and run the event
- Entertainment licence – Needed if you intend to provide additional entertainment between the hours of 11 am and 8 pm for crowds of over 500 people
- Alcohol licence: Temporary Events Notice (TENS) – If you intend to have your own bar and serve alcohol on unlicensed premises
For more information visit the Gov.UK website.
You will also need to get permission from the landowner if it is private land or contact the local council if it is public land.
Please note: The legislation for organizing food and drink festivals in the US will be different depending on the state you are in. You will, therefore, need to refer to your local state authority.
- What Insurance Do I Need For A Market Stall?
- Is It Legal To Sell Alcohol From a Food Truck?
- 11 Tips For Booking Food Truck Vendors For Your Event
Part of organizing a successful street food event is having the relevant equipment for food truck traders and customers.
You will need areas for people to sit and socialise and keep dry from the rain and shade from the sun which means tables and chairs and large gazebos.
And if you are providing power then you are going to have to arrange generators and leads to power the street food stalls, food trucks and music.
6 Best Gazebos For Market Stalls
Create a website
When organizing food and drink events you are going to need some centralised way of running things between you the food traders and the general public.
Things like taking payments from food traders for pitch fees; showcasing your traders and live entertainment; what’s on and dates of events; and overall marketing (see marketing your event section).
It’s also useful to have a section on what insurance and licences are needed for food vendors to apply.
Find food vendors
So you have found the right location, got people on board to help organize and got all your insurance and licenses in place. Now you have to entice food trucks and street food traders to your event.
Social media is one of the best ways to do this and there are numerous food truck and street food traders’ Facebook groups you can join as an event organizer and pitch your event.
You can also contact individual traders direct on platforms such as Instagram.
And another way to get traders to your event is to go to other street food markets in your city, town or village and speak to food traders directly.
This is also a good way to get ideas for your food and drink event from similar street food markets.
When first starting out you want to make the pitch fee for your event appealing.
Remember this will be an untried and tested event for traders so a reasonably priced pitch fee will make traders more likely to take the initial risk.
Find live entertainment
You may be competing with other street food markets or food truck festivals in and around your area which means you have to stand out and give people a good reason to attend.
Live entertainment such as music is a good one and goes hand in hand with food and drink and is also a good way to keep people at your event.
You can approach local talent and pay them or if you want to keep costs low can even get street performers (buskers) to play and take donations from the customers.
Something for the kids, such as face painting is also a good call.
Market your event
Once you have finalised all the details, got everything in place and have confirmed dates for when you plan to run your first food truck event it’s time to get the word out.
Living in the age of social media makes this a lot easier and going back to Facebook groups and Instagram is a good place to start.
You can run micro-targeted Facebook ads specific to your location area, run ads in your local newspaper and canvas local shops and businesses with flyers and posters.
It’s also important to have a website in place as not only does it look professional but it’s where you can redirect people from social media platforms to find out what you are all about.
These are just a few examples but the point is to get the word out there and make people aware and get them to your event.
Research and preparation is the key to organizing and running any kind of successful event- whether it’s a small street food market or a larger food truck festival.
Because the economic landscape at the time of writing seems to be in a time of flux it may be a little bit trickier to choose the right location.
I’m not saying there isn’t a need for food and drink events in cities but my gut instinct is telling me street food markets and food truck events will do well in the suburban towns and villages in the changing climate if more people work from home.
The point I’m trying to make is to choose your location wisely, which in the long run can mank things a bit easier and determine the success and viability of your event.
Gavin D is the founder of Street Food Central and Tru Foo Juice Bar Co. and has worked in the mobile catering industry for over 7 years.