NEOFTA is committed to giving you the best experience possible. Following the guidelines outlined below will help your food truck events run smoothly and deliciously.
Private Event Planning
Food trucks are a great way to have your private events catered. Most of the trucks in our Association are capable of and interested in catering private events. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before booking a truck for your event:
How do I choose a truck?
NEOFTA has food trucks specializing in all types of cuisine. If you browse our members page you can get a brief description about what each truck offers. Once you decide what type of food you want at your event and what trucks you might be interested in booking, you should contact each truck directly to get details about cost, menu, and availability.
How much does it cost?
Our Association does not impose any guidelines as to how each truck operates their business. Many trucks have a “minimum” amount, meaning you’ll pay at least that amount regardless of how many guests you have. Others charge a fee per person. Some have booking fees, some do not. You must contact the trucks individually to determine their pricing strategy for your party
What information do I need to provide the food truck?
When you call to inquire about having a food truck cater your private event you should be able to tell them how many people will be there, what type of food you want, how you want the party structured (i.e. service from the truck, buffet lines, etc.), the date, service time, and location of the party. You may also want to determine if everyone will eat once or if your guests will be permitted to make multiple trips to the truck/buffet lines.
Can a food truck come to my house?
Short answer, yes. You should ask the truck how much space they need and ensure that you have enough flat, level land for them to park on and check that that having the truck on your property does not violate the terms of your homeowners’ association (if you have one.)
Can a food truck come to the banquet hall/event center I booked?
Some event centers have in-house or exclusive caterers they work with. Check with the center to ask if this is acceptable.
Public Event Planning
Northeast Ohio is home to many incredible events and food trucks can make them more fun, more exciting, more enjoyable for everyone. As the event planner, there some questions you need to ask yourself before booking food trucks:
How many people will be there?
If you’ve hosted this event in the past, it should be easy to estimate the attendance but if this is a first-time event, be conservative in your estimates. If this event requires admission tickets, share the ticket sales numbers with your trucks one week, 48, and 24 hours prior to the event. Food truck owners spend a lot of time and money preparing food for the event based on the attendance numbers and an estimate that far exceeds the actual attendance will cost them money and may make them unwilling to return to the event the following year.
How many trucks do I need?
There needs to be a balance between the number of people at the event and the number of trucks. No lines at the trucks is great for the attendees but will be an awful day for the trucks. On the flip side, long waits will ensure the trucks are making money but may upset the people at your event. Plan to have one truck for every 200-300 people if it is an “eating” event. If the event isn’t all about the food, you can plan to have one truck for every 500-600 people.
What should I charge?
Charging a flat-rate may seem like a simple solution but because every truck has different costs and different price points, a percentage is the most equitable way to structure the fees. Asking 5-10% of total sales is fair for all trucks and should guarantee that everyone makes a profit.
When will trucks set up?
Trucks should arrive one hour before the event start-time. If there are inspections of any kind (health, fire) that will take place prior to the event, be sure the trucks are aware of this in advance and schedule enough time for them to be there two hours prior to the event start.
How much space do I need?
Food trucks can range in size from 20 to 30+ feet in length and need plenty of space to maneuver in/out. There should also be 10 feet between each truck.
Keep in mind that most trucks serve from the passenger side of the vehicle so it’s ideal if everyone can drive directly into the serving area and begin set-up. If vehicles will be required to turn around, make sure there is space for everyone to do so. Trucks should be organized in a manner that allows any of them to leave when the event is over, as the truck who is fastest to cleanup/breakdown doesn’t want to wait for the slowest truck to finish before they can get out.
How should I organize the trucks?
One week prior to the event, you should send specific instructions about how to get to the venue, where to go when they arrive, and a map indicating the specific area the trucks will occupy. When the trucks arrive, there should be no mistake as to where they are supposed to be. Trucks want to go directly to their serving area and begin set-up upon arrival so it is your responsibility to ensure they can do this easily and without confusion.
Is this a charity event?
There’s a lot of great causes out there and food truck owners would love to be able to participate in/donate to all of them. But realize these trucks are constantly asked to donate food/time/service/money to charity organizations and as small (sometimes very small – think one person) businesses, it’s simply not always feasible to give back. If you are planning to charge the trucks a percentage to be at your event, this percentage is what you can donate to the charity.
How many food vendors will there be?
You may have only one food truck for your event of 700 people and the food truck owner, thinking they are the only food option, will be excited about serving and having a great day only to arrive and see there’s five other vendors setting up tables/booths. Be transparent about what you’re offering the attendees and what types of foods will be there so the food truck operators can make the best decisions regarding your event.
Is the event selling their own beverages?
Food trucks will generally plan to sell drinks so if you will be doing this on your own, make sure that is clear to the food trucks before they begin menu planning.
Am I supplying power to the trucks?
All trucks will have the ability to be self-sufficient with all necessary power and water on-board. However, if your event prefers not to hear any sounds from generators or the event is long enough that fuel could become an issue, you might consider allowing the trucks to plug into “the grid”. If you plan to do this, ask each truck what their power requirements are so you can plan which trucks will be on the same circuits, that you have enough power, etc.
How will I be marketing this event?
It’s not necessary to do anything special but it’s always nice for the food truck operators to know that their name will be getting out there. Food trucks are masters of their own marketing and will be on Facebook, Twitter, Street Food Finder apps, etc. plugging their own schedules, which will include your event and likely boost your attendance. A little reciprocation here goes a long way. When you post about the trucks on social media, please tag them to easily draw traffic to their pages.
What type of food will the trucks be serving?
Unless your event is centered around a specific type of food, you should book a variety of different cuisines to appeal to all attendees. You may reach out to multiple pizza trucks or multiple taco trucks, for example, but just because they both agree doesn’t mean they should both be booked. If you plan to have multiple trucks of the same variety, be upfront with them while booking and allow them to decide if they want to have direct competition at your event. If you plan to have both sweet and savory trucks, consider alternating them in the lineup.