Concession Support Vehicles – Work Horses of the Mobile Food Business by Barb Fitzgerald for Foodbooth.net
One thing you don't often hear mentioned in any discussion about the mobile food concession business is: support vehicles. They're the grunts of the concession business - working humbly and hard behind the scenes transporting the booth, equipment, stock and living quarters to and from events.
My first support vehicle was a borrowed pickup truck. It pulled my small concession trailer and a little extra stock. At night I rolled-out my sleeping bag onto the floor of the concession trailer. In the morning I brushed my teeth in the hand-washing sink. A few years later I was able to buy a used Chevy window van. Though I couldn't stand upright to dress, at least I could sleep without the aroma of fryer grease in my nostrils.
As the years went by I had several concession trailers and several trucks with campers. Then, as the quality of my events improved, I added a tent with a separate menu to my business. With that I needed an entirely different support vehicle.
I considered all sorts of vehicles. Initially, I thought I might get a motor home with a ramped "toy hauler" on the rear. It was easy to imagine myself traveling in luxury with a hot morning shower, kitchenette, wood paneling and a real bed to sleep in. The question was whether or not a motor home was built to pull and haul the substantial weight of the entirety of my business.
My next idea was to modify a small bus with a handicap lift, which would come in handy for loading and unloading stock. I was pretty sure a bus had the undercarriage and power to do the job. Alas, neither a motor home nor bus was within my price range.
After many months of rubbernecking used vehicle lots I came across a 1979 Ford F600 high box. It had a 4 speed split shift transmission, heavy springs and a 380 hp gas engine. The box was insulated and had high windows so I could see out. Under the belly on one side was a 6000 watt Onan generator. On the other side was an air compressor. It carried two 50 gallon fuel tanks. I asked my mechanic to check it out. He pronounced it a pretty good truck. The price tag was an affordable $5000.
I was in love. Over the next few months I walled the 14-foot box into two sections. Within the front 8-foot section I installed bunk beds, a table, a small toilet closet, a plumbed sink, and carpeting. In the rear I installed a lift gate. The air compressor I sold, and now use that belly box for storing tools and spare parts. With this truck I pulled my concession trailer, hauled a tent, and equipment, and enough stock for two food booths. I also had comfortable sleeping quarters.
A few years later I decided to focus my business entirely on the tent so I sold my concession trailer and bought a 12 foot utility trailer. Now, this trailer hauls my entire concession business. In the rear section of the truck I carry the plastics and breakables so they don't get jostled or smashed by wayward equipment in the trailer.