Need Event Info? We are Now Offering Monthly Membership Options! Click for Info!
Are you:

Please call us 800-200-3737 or send an .
Please call us 800-200-3737 or send an .
When Food Carts Close for Winter

When Food Carts Close for Winter They Lose Income, Not Headaches

by Barb Fitzgerald


Recently, as I drove through Portland Oregon, I passed several food carts that were closed for winter. It got me wondering what the operators of these carts do for income while they wait for better weather to re-open in the spring. It also makes me wonder why these people chose to open a food cart rather than sell seasonally at special events with a food concession. I assume the need for a full-time income is the main reason. But, if a food cart is forced to close for lack of sales, what is the advantage of having a food cart? Do they prefer to sell from a stationary location, regardless, rather than set-up at temporary events? Or, are there other reasons?


I suspect that many food cart operators want a full-time income but didn't know in advance of opening how well they would do month-by-month. It is no small thing to design a food cart and menu, become licensed, and commit to a location. And, it is not until the cart has been open through the seasons that they learn if their location and menu will produce a steady income. At that point, if their location doesn't sustain adequate sales, it is difficult and expensive to move a food cart to a better location.


Food carts depend on foot traffic for business. When the weather is cold and wet too many customers remain indoors or rush past clutching their umbrellas. Depending on their location, some food carts can provide their customers a warm, dry place to eat with an awning, propane heater and picnic tables set in front of their cart. Other carts are restricted from doing this.


Aside from the loss of income, closing for the winter months creates other problems. While the food cart sits shuttered the operator needs to worry about vandalism, theft, frozen water pipes and mold. And, the rent still needs to be paid. For those carts operators who remain open though sales have slowed to a trickle, the task of supplying the cart, preparing food and maintaining its quality, and the long hours sitting within the small cart watching the beans bubble, with very little return at the end of the day, creates its own angst.


As I look out at the freezing fog I am glad my food concession is tucked-in for the winter. I don't need to even think about it until spring.


I think next time I'm in Portland I will buy my lunch from a food cart and tip generously, even if the weather is a gully-washer.






by nancydave, posted 11/17/14 07:45:48

Congratulations on marriage!!!! Barb's article s so true. What I found out is a lot of the fair grounds hold other events on the grounds inside the buildings like dog show and gun shows etc... during the winter.

by firechef, posted 11/13/14 20:56:55

So very true Barb! First of all, congrats, wishing you a happy married life.
One of the reasons I do not want a stationary Food Booth is exactly for the reasons you stated. Fortunatly I'm retired and have an income during the off season so I pick and chose which gigs I want to do during the season and then I call the Vernonia Salmon Festival in October my last gig until next year and put everything away.
I suppose I could lease a space someplace inside for the winter, lots available in the Portland / Vancouver area, but I really don't want to work year 'round. Also don't want the expense involved with all of the different agencies hands out to take your profits.
I'll just kick back, take a trip to a warmer climate in the Motor home and sell some trinkets if I feel like it at swap meets. No Health Dept's hassles or expenses, no spoilages, no great product expenses.
See y'all next year fellow Foodies, have a great holiday and stay warm.

add comment


We're always looking for articles about working in the festival biz: tips, ideas, techniques, & resources. Send to: and put "FNO Newsletter" in subject line.

To Manage Your E-Lists, Go Here.

Tell your friends about FNO

If you need your user name and password, email for assistance. To ensure delivery of this newsletter, please add to your email address book. Thank you!

Copyright (C) 2014 FESTIVAL NETWORK ONLINE All rights reserved.