I started my own foodtruck about six months ago. Lifelong dream, but it is far from easy.

Figured there have to be a lot of people out there thinking about, or just began, starting a business. Or, if anybody just wants details on the foodtruck industry.

Hope I can add some insight... If anybody cares.

Proof: http://imgur.com/jKIeYyL

I'd post something on my twitter feed, but it don't exactly want to broadcast that I am having a slow night. If a mod wants to PM me, that'd be swell.

EDIT: Getting some customers... Response times slowing a bit. I will answer as much as I can! THANKS FOR THE GOLD!

EDIT 2: Holy shit, this blew up. Trying to answer in between customers. To whoever is making my twitter following double: you are gods... Man, I honestly expected this post to get maybe 5-10 replies.

Edit III: Screw it, shameless promotion time. facebook.com/thrilledcheese or @thrilledcheese ... Honestly did not intend for this to be an ad, but if it's going to be anyway, may as well lean into it.

EDIT4: Alright, waiting for my cab home. Last push for answers, then bedtime.

Last Edit: Thanks so much for the support. If I didn't get to your question, I'm really sorry. I had no idea this was going to happen. All those who PM'd me, I'm gunna respond in the morning, after I've gotten a little shut eye. Thanks again Reddit, you never cease to amaze.

Oh, and to all of you who saw this and drive your asses to come eat my food, I hope it didn't suck. You're the real heroes here. Suck it, Aquaman.

EDIT AGAIN: Well, I'm back. I'm trying to respond to all the PMs I got, but answering questions as well along the way. Seriously, how did this happen?

Comments: 2170 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

Empty_Granola_Bag1543 karma

How does

EmersonEsq1627 karma

It just

straightupcreepshow1513 karma

I'dDo you accept credit cards? If so I'd like to purchase $50 worth of food to be given directly to the homeless if possible, otherwise to a shelter.

Edit: PM if it's feasible

Edit for reasoning: I'd like to help out a fellow redditor starting a new business but I can't buy food from his truck, cause geography. Donating the food solves that problem & feeds some less fortunate people hopefully. & I appreciate the kudos friends but I haven't made the purchase yet. Still waiting on a link.

EmersonEsq107 karma

Gah! Wish I had seen this one last night. Was way over my head with questions. Yeah, we use Square as our cc service. Shame I wasted this opportunity to do some good. You're an awesome person for even thinking of this.

CrownReserve786 karma

Are you turning enough to pay all expenses and earn a livable wage each month, consistently?

EmersonEsq1205 karma

I'm doing this pro bono right now. I have two other jobs to try to make ends meet. Delicate balance, need to work on the truck to get it successful, need to work other jobs to survive, and each of those eats the other.

omniuni713 karma

How do you handle dietary options? Do you ever get odd requests from customers?

Also, a couple of suggestions; Find some tech companies and ask them if you can set up in the parking lot during lunch time. Food trucks seem to do well there. Also, breweries that don't serve food are another great place to set up and catch the after work crowd.

EmersonEsq867 karma

I offer prosciutto for the carnivores, Daiya for the vegans, and udi's for the gluten-frees.

Yeah, tech lots are the dream. Cold calling is 70% of my life haha

NewLogic87638 karma

Oh shit I just saw that you are in ATX. I am too! I'm too drunk to drive to a food truck now but I would like to come get some grub and support ya this weekend. Where are you located?

EmersonEsq916 karma

Drunk driving is a bad idea. Hit us up at @thrilledcheese and I'll feed you someday!

Dewmeister14751 karma


Marry me.

EmersonEsq216 karma

Already married, but something on the side maybe?

Kidding honey, kidding.

foreveraloneirl585 karma

I'm starving. What food do you serve?

EmersonEsq1147 karma

Award winning grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sunkern499 karma

Hey! I design floor plans for food carts. From someone who actually has to work in one, what would make life easier/less complicated? What are some problems you come across on a daily basis (appliances, space, water tank size, etc)?

Edit: I've received a lot of PM's asking to help design a food cart for someone. Unfortunately the software I use isn't available to me outside of my work (which is booked pretty far into the future) so I legally cannot use it for freelance work. Sorry guys!

EmersonEsq395 karma

PM me and I'll shoot you some good info. Way too much to say right now on that topic

goodguygaymer309 karma

I'd love to see what you have to say, though!

EmersonEsq506 karma

Short version: assembly lines are great. Make your fridge the first stop, get what you need onto a prep surface, which is next to your cook surface, which is next to your wrapping station, which is nest to your service window, which is next to your sink for cleaning what you just used, which is next to the fridge so that you can use it all over again.

Chefgarlicjunky396 karma

I own a gourmet food truck in Orange County, Ca and have been running for 3 years. Welcome to the biz and get used to many slow nights. Picking the right venues and passing on the shit ones will be much more profitable. In the begining you have to kinda take every event but there will be a time when BIG events will be all you get invited too. Good luck, its a brutal buisness. Im am at this moment lying in bed with pain throughout my whole body from cooking since 9am at a massive beer festival.

EmersonEsq334 karma

Godspeed fellow trucker. Get some rest. This is my first truck on my own, but I was on another in DC before this. I really miss the chaos of working on a successful truck right now. Hope to get back to it soon

baddozer347 karma

What were your approximate start up costs, and what did that include?

EmersonEsq537 karma

This whole thing was funded solely by myself and two friend-vestors. So, our costs were very low in comparison to many, and we've suffered for it. ~35K covered buying the truck, converting it from nothing into a kitchen (brother in law is a contractor and electrician, so that was cheaper than it should have been), licenses, supplies, food, salaries, diesel, etc... Everything.

To put it in perspective: the companies who will convert your truck into a kitchen for you (byo truck), charge more than my entire launch budget.

Emprise32237 karma

Why have you suffered for it?

EmersonEsq450 karma

I started work 2.5 years ago, launched 6 months ago. If I'd had more money, I'd've launched 2 years ago.

Schrodingers_Nachos273 karma

Food trucks rule

EmersonEsq346 karma

You rule

John_MayerMaynot272 karma

All cities have such different laws for food trucks. Are you allowed to have a liquor license and serve drinks off the street?

*I'd also like to know what kind of food you're serving up...

EmersonEsq383 karma

Oh, if wishing made it so! Rollin' Wit' Bourbon has been a dream truck of mine for a while. Sadly, it's soda and water on my bus. (Austin is where I am btw)

uninnocent249 karma

Have you ever had a territorial dispute? If so, how did it get resolved?

EmersonEsq472 karma

Contrary to most thought, more trucks at a location help our business instead of hurting. There are salty people sometimes though.

ThatObviousDude244 karma

Good luck man. It's better to struggle; pursuing your lifelong dream and eventually succeeding as opposed to wasting away in a dead end, mediocre job that you hate.

EmersonEsq216 karma

A-motherfucking-men. Thanks!

SirDaveu217 karma

I went to a gig last night and there was a creperie booth out the front and my friend and I were discussing whether or not the chef could possibly be happy dealing with drunks and idiots at 2am. When you say its your dream can you elaborate more?

EmersonEsq540 karma

Drunks can be hilarious, or rage inducing. But, hell, they all have money.

As for the dream thing, making grilled cheese sandwiches and playing Magic have been my only hobbies for as long as I can remember. So, I took the one that is most logical to make money off of... Also, I'm not that great at Magic haha.

John_MayerMaynot119 karma

I've always wanted to open a restaurant that served only grill cheeses and variations thereof... please, for me, just call your plain Kraft single grilled cheese with butter on white bread "the missionary position." Please :)

EmersonEsq273 karma

I wouldn't dream of offering such a thing as singles on my truck! Fun fact though: missionary is actually what they called the "orange cheese, white bread" category in the Grilled Cheese Invitational. Boy, I miss that event!

ThatsMrAsshole2You64 karma

I have dreamed of starting a lunch-time-only soup and sandwich shop that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. Different breads, cheeses, meats, veggies. I make a mean grilled cheese.

EmersonEsq178 karma

I accept your challenge. Meet me at dawn at the Kitchen Colosseum.

SirDaveu63 karma

Ive worked at a casino I understand that view on drunks completely. Do you have to work most nights?

EmersonEsq311 karma

Have to? I want to. The hard part is getting invited to enough places where I'm allowed to vend. I'd work 24/7 if it meant this thing succeeds.

SirDaveu160 karma

I admire your passion dude. Cant see it failing with that sortve dedication

EmersonEsq118 karma

Thank you

Gfizzles48 karma

Most chefs are drunks so...

EmersonEsq179 karma

I resent that... Now, where's my bourbon?

gambalore124 karma

What city are you in? How often do you get parking tickets? I know that here in New York a lot of food truck owners have just given up because of the seemingly arbitrary enforcement of parking regulations by the NYPD.

EmersonEsq171 karma

I'm in ATX. Since the laws here require being on private property to vend, my tickets have been super low (and just due to me being dumb and not reading a sign). On my old truck in DC, where street vending was legal, we got a ticket a week, sometimes more.

tazzy53191 karma

If you're having a slow night, I'm sure we can send some Redditers down there now.

EmersonEsq229 karma

At Lala's on Justin Ln... Feel free to deliver :)

TardGenius155 karma

Hey, you're in my hood! I'll try to head over there soon!

EmersonEsq127 karma

Hope to see you!

SirDaveu63 karma

I would love to hear of a reddit flash mob cleaning you out of stock!

EmersonEsq112 karma

So would my wallet haha... But I actually don't have much on the truck tonight. I prepped for a slow night anyhow, just hot this slow haha

tazzy53158 karma

I'm in CA, so I won't be able to stop by. But you have a captured audience here, why not advertise your location in your top post.

You're giving something to the community, I'm sure people will be ok giving back :)

EmersonEsq102 karma

I didn't want to be advertising (I'm fine with it as a side-effect), I was honestly thinking about answering questions of those who had them.

rm082622 karma

There is your problem right there. It's the location. You need to be somewhere with higher traffic. Have you tried getting a location on the east side yet?

EmersonEsq64 karma

Of course. It's complicated.

JazzhandsJamz118 karma

What is hands down the best grilled cheese recipe you can think of?

EmersonEsq627 karma

The one that got me trophies was: Coffee and Lavender Cheddar, with Thick-Cut Dark Chocolate Covered Bacon, on Crème Brûlée Sourdough

senchi69 karma

How did you come up with that flavor profile? And how/where did you find coffee and lavendar cheddar?

EmersonEsq169 karma

Barely Buzzed by Beehive Creamery is the cheese you seek

internets_friend107 karma

Did you form an LLC for your business to help prevent them taking everything you own in the event of bankruptcy or a lawsuit? Also, how much time a week do you spend in your food truck (lunch, dinner, etc) around Austin? I feel as though it would be so very hit or miss and be difficult to appropriately manage inventory (depending on what you're serving) to eliminate waste and maximize profits.

EmersonEsq131 karma

Yes, LLCs are the way to go... It's been 6 months and hit-or-miss is the perfect term. We have great press, but we have few opportunities to vend. I'm only working 2-3 days a week, I'd like to be doing 6.

LittleFaceAcneDick50 karma

Why can't you do 6 nights a week?

EmersonEsq110 karma

It's a matter of being invited to enough places for 6 nights a week. Also, I need to be making money, so I need time for my other jobs for now

CrownReserve105 karma

How many customers do you see on an average week?

How many customers do you need?

EmersonEsq182 karma

Right now, I'm only seeing 50-100 a week (due to not being out many days), to turn black I need to be seeing 300 minimum.

Grrrath102 karma

  • Where do you even buy a food truck?
  • How did you manage to design and paint the outside?
  • What kind of food do you sell?

EmersonEsq218 karma

Craigslist (wasn't a foodtruck when I bought it).

Hired some spray artists to go nuts. Paid them in beer.

Grilled cheese

turnballZ94 karma

I have a cousin who's a chef. I was suggesting that we get him a food truck and have him open a restaurant that way. Other than auto repairs and fueling your store, what are some unique challenges with making the change from chefing a dinner rush versus a lunch rush in a truck?

EmersonEsq160 karma

The lack of staff. A truck is only so big. You can only for so many people on it. The jobs get folded together. The head chef is also a line cook, a prep cook, dishwasher, expo, taking orders, etc. The small team has to band together and everybody kinda does a little of everything. It's a whole different animal.

decentlyconfused90 karma

despite being pro bono, do you have a limit to how long you'll be continuing this, or any certain expectations?

EmersonEsq222 karma

I hate thinking about it, but yes. I have a stop date if I can't make it work. I dare not speak it.

Mognet_T81 karma

Aw man, opening a food truck is the dream I share with my girlfriend. Thanks for doing this AMA, it's giving me some notions about that I should expect.

EmersonEsq153 karma

"One does not simply..." always comes to mind.

nutellatime67 karma

I go to school in Boston where the food truck presence is amazing (Roxy's Grilled Cheese is by far my favorite), but I'm originally from Kansas City where the food trucks are... lacking, at best. What makes a city a good or bad place to have a food truck? Pedestrian traffic? Tourism? Drunk people?

EmersonEsq121 karma

Parking laws. I started in the DC scene, where you could park (almost) anywhere with a meter. Here you can only vend on private property, this means you need to be invited. Complicated. I want to just pull up and open my window.

nutellatime44 karma

Makes sense, I suppose, although Boston has designated food truck spots all over town so it doesn't really apply.

EmersonEsq72 karma

Sounds like heaven

baddozer63 karma

Since you own a food truck, I'd imagine you can eat whatever you like. What did you make yourself to eat today?

EmersonEsq128 karma

Actually, today I ate at La Salsa... Twice.

urleftsock55 karma

How is the rate of crime and/or robbery on a food truck compare to another restaurant?

EmersonEsq158 karma

To be honest, I don't have numbers on that. I know people who have been held up in their trucks. It's also easier to drive a truck away than a brick and mortar.

shaky_handed_surgeon51 karma

You should take a run up to Dallas sometime, and you should try to hit up my employers in Austin! I'm sure that they wouldn't mind some grilled cheese at lunch.

EmersonEsq81 karma

Do you have contact info for the property manager for where they work? Because I'd love to feed them... And if I thought this truck could survive 4 hours on 35, I'd head that way, but that bumpy road would crack us in half

call_of_the_while48 karma

What does the card say in your pic? Tried to zoom in but print is still blurry. Also, things picked up yet or still a slow night?

EmersonEsq65 karma

Still slow, but a few happy customers. The card says the same thing as our about section on Facebook.com/thrilled cheese. Silly story I made up about myself.

call_of_the_while77 karma

Thanks for answering. From what I've read in this thread you seem to have the most important ingredient to make this successful, you got a lot of heart kid. I wish you all the best in your venture.

EmersonEsq54 karma

Thanks! You're an awesome person.

TheTurnbull38 karma

Do you have any employees or is it just you? A friend and I want to open a greenhouse together and I'm curious about all the sorts of stresses and pains that you wouldn't expect from starting a business.

EmersonEsq73 karma

It's mostly just me. I have help from the wife and my sis for free when they can, and one employee when I need him. But, I need to save that money for when I really need him haha

that_mn_kid32 karma

How often do you (and food truck people in general) get into turf wars with other food trucks?

EmersonEsq206 karma

Not often enough. I want a reason to mount that chain gun on my hood.

vrphotosguy5530 karma

Why is food truck food so expensive? Street food in other parts of the world are the cheap alternative to sitting down but in the US, it seems to be the same price as sitting down and having a meal and sometimes you're still expected to tip. I'm generally willing to pay this price but I suspect many people are not which is why they don't often eat at food trucks. Is the cost of running the business genuinely reflected in the price of food or is the price high for the "coolness factor"?

EmersonEsq56 karma

I can't speak for other trucks, but I charge what I can afford to. If I was using shitty ingredients, I'd be robbing you, but bread alone costs me 75¢ a sandwich.

staystrapped20 karma

Whats on the Menu?

EmersonEsq48 karma

Just posted a pic to @thrilledcheese

EcklanMarklaring16 karma

What is your favorite cheese?

EmersonEsq44 karma

Beehive Creamery's "Barely Buzzed"... Incredible

travis-4116 karma

A friend of mine started up a food truck about a year ago, seems to enjoy it a lot. How do you like it? What are the ups and downs?

EmersonEsq46 karma

I love it, when I'm on it. When we are off the road (for repairs, or lack of invites to locations) I'm losing my mind. It will be amazing, I've just gotta push through until it is.

Iran_dagg12 karma


EmersonEsq21 karma

Hard to say, but booze helps

lakindo7 karma

Do you have investors or did you come with your own capital out of savings? On average,what is your overhead?

EmersonEsq18 karma

Me and two friends were the investment front. Right now, my overhead is a little to embarrassing to broadcast, but in theory it should get better :)

Andrew421805 karma

Do you think that six months ago was the best time you could have gotten into the business? What's the biggest gripe you have with customers that visit your truck? What would you do differently if you could restart?

EmersonEsq9 karma

No. 6 months ago was the wrong time. Thing is, I started work on this truck two years before that. I had a mountain of setbacks, but it was too late to pull out. Just gotta make due with the situation and be awesome anyway.

666illuminati4 karma

What books have you read that were essential for success?

EmersonEsq18 karma

Oh the places you'll go

fnoobreported2 karma

Do you still play Magika?

EmersonEsq3 karma

Any chance I get


You should park out front of a cluster of bars. Especially at closing time.

EmersonEsq2 karma

Yeah. That's the dream. Sadly in ATX, you need to be invited by the owner to park anywhere. It gets complicated.