A concession business usually includes a commissary - a place to store and service equipment and stock between events. The commissary of a concessionaire who serves a simple menu may be something as easy as a little floor space in the corner of the garage, where, he or she has installed some shelving to store extra cases of product. However, concessionaires who operate complex operations, with large and diverse menus, need a space that functions as an equipment warehouse, stock warehouse, repair shop, and vehicle yard. Concessionaires often use what they have at home to serve this function, such as, their garage, shop or shed, and parking area, where their large collection of food service equipment and support vehicles is kept and serviced. This collection almost always includes standard equipment like grills, deep fryers, steam tables, and propane burners. With these four basic pieces a concessionaire can sell almost anything; from hamburgers, hot dogs, curly fries, elephant ears, stir fry, sausage for breakfast, and more. In fact, most dishes sold on the midway are prepared with one of these four pieces of food service equipment. The warehoused collection of equipment will also include ice chests, freezers, beverage and condiment dispensers, utensils, sneeze guards, tent poles and canvases, signs, propane tanks, water hoses, electric cords, floor mats, pop canisters, garbage cans, dish washing tubs, and much, much more.
Also in storage will be food stock. A collection of freezers might hold cases of stir fry noodles, diced chicken, hamburger patties and corn dogs. On shelves will be non-perishable items like cases of nacho chips, cans of nacho cheese, hamburger buns, cans of ketchup, and beverage mix.
In the yard is an assortment of trucks, vans, motor homes and trailers used to transport the equipment and stock to events. Along with the vehicles will also be tools needed to maintain and service both the vehicles and food service equipment. Garden hoses, used to clean equipment and fill water tanks, will lie amongst spare parts and power cords.
You may find equipment in various degrees of condition, some ready to go to an event, others needing cleaning or repairs, and, still others being kept for spare parts.
Both the food booth and commissary of a concessionaire who operates under a mobile food service license is inspected and licensed annually, and complies with strict regulations that enable food to be handled and prepared within the commissary. However, concessionaires who travel from event to event are frequently licensed as temporary restaurants. The commissaries of these concessionaires are not inspected and licensed. Temporary restaurant license holders are not permitted to handle or prepare food at their commissary. Instead, food is prepared in the booth on site at the event. Food safety issues are addressed at, and within the booth prior to opening for business, at each and every event.
Even for a temporary restaurant permit a lot of states require a licensed commissary such as a tavern or restaurant. Home commissary is not safe enough!
If you know someone in the restaurant business you might ask them to let you use a small corner in their cooler. When you apply for permit, in most cases they will ask you where your commissary is located and require a signed affidavid from the owner. At least that is what most counties in the states of WA and OR require.