How To Start A Street Food BusinessStreet Food Business Van

The street food business in the UK is very popular today. One reason being, people wanting to start their own businesses at a relatively low cost, within the hospitality industry. 

A street food business can make a lot of profit although this comes with hard work and perseverance. You will also need to focus on the core areas of the business, such as choosing a profitable food to serve and locating pitches.

A street food entrepreneur

 As a street food entrepreneur, you have the flexibility of working when and where you choose. You could be working at a local market once a month. Or working three days a week at events and festivals all over the country. Starting a street food business can be started as a second career on a part-time basis or as a main career. The harder you work on your business, focusing on the core areas the more successful it is possible to become.

When thinking about starting a street food business think about what motivates you. Are you looking for a part-time business or are you looking to own a multi-vehicle operation in the next five years

Also having an honest look at yourself and deciding if a street food business is right for you. For example: if you don’t like working with food then this may not be suited to your personality

Running A Street Food Business

An Introduction To The Street Food Business

What Is Street Food?

Street food can be described as a growing scene serving quality food with individuality. The foods can be served from a range of places including markets, festivals or special events. The trend continues with street food being one of the most innovative and interesting concepts in the UK catering scene.

Companies serving street food must use quality sourced ingredients and serve high-quality foods. The owners will concentrate on one product and prepare and serve this to a high standard. Street food traders can operate and serve their products from any type of unit.

For example, a food truck (Van), a trailer, or a gazebo, a key point for success is to brand your individuality.

Street Food Units can be split into three main areas:

  • Trailer Operators
  • Gazebo Operators
  • Truck/Van operators

These operation units can all be used at many trading pitches including a local farmers market or a large festival.

 Advantages Of A Street Food Business. The Pros and Cons

Street food entrepreneurs come from all types of backgrounds. Owners may have had a hospitality career or recently finished a cooking course or are looking to completely make a change in career direction. Some of the best and worst aspects of the business are listed below.


Customers Satisfaction

Receiving compliments from your customers is a great feeling and energy booster. It makes all the hard work you have put into preparing and cooking well worth it.

Expressing Your Ideas. Owning your own street food business means you must make all the decisions on how the business is run. The business can be run exactly as you decide how you want to express yourself through your food and concepts.

Building a Brand

Starting and running your own street food business is a great way to try out your concepts and build a successful brand. A successful street food business can be the starting point for testing out your restaurant ideas if you want to move into the restaurant business later.

Being an Entrepreneur

Running your own business is a great choice of career. You will be able to make all of your own decisions and have control over when and how you work.

It’s Possible to Work Full Time or Part Time

When starting your business as a street food entrepreneur

it is possible to start your business on a part-time basis. Weekends and evenings are the best times to run a street food business, so, for this reason, it makes a doable

undertaking whilst still maintaining a regular job. A street food business can be started as a part-time job and eventually grow into a full-time job to the point where it’s not possible to do both jobs.


The Hard Work

There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of a street food business. This will include the preparation that will need to be done to get food ready, the planning of menus, the sticking to budgets and having all the licenses and permits in place, along with keeping on top of new health and safety regulations. There are many tasks that need to be taken on before service even starts, and when it does, this can mean hours of standing and serving customers in a busy, cramped hot environment.

Maintenance of the Unit

The unit will need to be kept in good working order. Trucks and vans are essential to your business and breakdowns will be a problem. If your vehicle is out of action, then you have no business and no money. Make sure the vehicle is kept in working order by having regular check-ups and a backup plan should be in place for any breakdowns.

Difficult to Expand

A street food business is a difficult business to scale up and expand as the operation is usually owned and run by one or, maybe, two people. There will not be enough of cash flow to expand easily. It’s important to understand if you are looking to get bigger at a later date, you should have a plan in place to do so from the beginning. A well-branded business that is easy to set up and run will be less difficult to scale through a possible franchise system.

Do I Need To Be A Qualified Chef

Everyone with some cooking skills and the ability to cook tasty foods could open a street food business. Many chefs use the lower costs of starting a street food business as a way of owning their own business, and many enthusiastic home cooks have done as well. Being a trained chef will have its advantages and this can be achieved if cooking skills are needed.

You may, however, decide that you have the skills needed as a home cook and are looking for an outlet to serve your foods.

The Mission Of A Street Food Business

Working with Popular UK Street Food

Street food ideas can take inspiration from all over the world. When choosing your style, think about what customers you are targeting; for example, a trendy street food market in London will have different food needs than a countryside county show.

When deciding on your food, take into consideration the preparation times, cooking times, cost of ingredients and serving speed needed. It is recommended to have as much preparation work done as possible the day before your event.

The better your preparation for an event, the smoother and faster your service will be. A range of different foods will take longer to prepare than a limited menu and the service speed can also vary considerably.

 The Street Food Business Model Set Up

Examples of a Street Food Unit Set-Up

The example below gives you an idea of how a street food business can be set up for an event. As you can see, it is a compact space for the chef and service people to work in. In this example, the cooking is done at the back of the unit, and the food is served to the customers from the prep area. If a gazebo set-up is being used, the cooking equipment can be moved to the front, in this way the customers will see the food being prepared and enjoy that theatre of operation. There may be extra space under the equipment, such as the LPG hobs that will be on a table, and the prep area will have space underneath for storage.


You can imagine how hot and uncomfortable the working environment can become if all the equipment is being fully used during busy service time. This may be a factor to consider when deciding if a street food business is right for you.

Street Food Business Event Ideas

The Google Search Method

To find specific places to trade in your local area this Google search method works well.

STEP 1: Add your selected dates into Google followed by

‘Festival Trading Pitch’ or ‘Event Trading Pitch’.

STEP 2: Follow this with the UK or a specific area/location.

Example Google Search

  • 18–19 June ‘Event Trading Pitch’ Cotswolds
  • 10–11 August ‘Festival Trading Pitch’ UK

How To Generate Names For A Street Food Business

If you do not have a name decided for your business you will need one. There are many free name generator tools out there.

Free Business Name Generator –

How To Register A Street Food Business

As a street food entrepreneur, there are three main ways you could decide to register as a business. The first is as a sole trader, the second is as a limited company and the third option is registering as a partnership. There are three types of partnerships to choose from: limited liability partnership (LLP), sleeping or dormant partners, and general partnership. A sole trader and a limited company are the main types for a street food business.

A Sole Trader

The simplest way to start a street food business is to register as a sole trader. This means that you as the sole owner operate the business, and you will run the business on your own. A big benefit of this approach is that you will take home all of the profits and will be free from any registration fees. A weakness is that you will need to be a very responsible person and keep on top of all the accounts. The best way of doing this is by using an accountant who specialises

in the field. You will be responsible for all of the debts that the business incurs,

which can make sole trading fairly risky. However, it can be extremely

lucrative if you get it to spot on. To register as a sole trader you just need to download and fill in a CWF1 form from the HMRC website. As soon as this is done and sent off, you are officially registered and can begin trading as a business.

Limited Company

Limited companies exist as individual companies, and can be registered through Companies House. The finances of a limited company are consequently separate from the personal finances of the owners. Shareholders will not be responsible for any debts acquired by the company but could stand to lose out on their original investment if the business runs into trouble.

There are two types of limited companies:

Private Limited and Public Limited.

Between these two types of companies, there exist a few differences. Public limited companies are legally allowed to raise funds by selling shares of their company on the stock market, but private limited companies cannot. Public limited companies must also have a share capital of £50,000 or more, with two shareholders, two directors and a trained/qualified secretary.

The Start-Up Costs of a Business

The start-up costs to become a street food entrepreneur hinge on your finances and ability to borrow. Nevertheless, for a basic setup, which serves a simple style of food, you will be looking at a range starting at £4000 to £5000; this will include the pitch fees. You will then need to take into account additional costs on tops of that, such as a truck/van or trailer. It is also possible to rent trailers and trucks from one day upwards. There are also franchises available or street food businesses,

Street Food Business Profit Uk – How To Make The Highest Profit

It is very important when starting out to have a Gross Profit Margin to stick to. This is the profit you make on all of your foods and may need to be at least 70% GP to run and grow successfully. Your net profit will come by taking all of your costs. These will include pitch fees and fuel away from the Gross Profit. Minimising wastage is a core area to focus on when controlling a Gross Profit.

 Street Food Business Plan – Sample/Template

The Business Plan

The best business plans will explain only the most essential information. They’ll list what you want to achieve, how you intend to get there and what you will need to do along the way. Below I have included a sample template for a business plan. The contents and notes are what would normally be expected in a plan, but should be altered to suit your own requirements. Before completing the document, you will need to have done some research into competitor activity, pricing and the market for your services/ products etc.

How Many Hours Will You Need To Put Into Your Business

This is entirely your own decision, but as you start your business up you will need to put in a lot of hours than at any other time. So if you are looking to only work on a part-time basis, you may find that you are still putting a lot of hours in. This may include: finding pitches, building a website, finding a suitable vehicle and equipment.

Once you have all of the basic groundwork done a certain amount of hours will still need to be spent on your business. Due to preparing foods and buying stock. All these areas may need careful thought when thinking How To Start And Run A Street Food Business.

 Health And Safety

There certain core areas that need focusing on when you are looking into How To Start And Run A Street Food Business. As a street food operator, you are responsible for the health and safety of your customers. All of your equipment inside your operational unit needs to be safety checked and clean.

You will also need to have a basic qualification in food safety and be able to take risk assessments and understand HACCP regulations. You will be using equipment that can be hazardous such as gas appliances and electrical equipment, these all need to be safety checked and given certificates by a qualified engineer.

How To Buy A Street Food Business

Tips and Advice on How to Buy A Street Food Business and What To Look Out For When Buying A Vehicle

When you are selecting your unit. There are essential points to remember that will save you money and time in the long run. Decide on your menu first, and then when it comes to buying a vehicle you can select one that already has the equipment you will need. Make sure the vehicle is health and safety passable with an LPG certificate and Electrical certificate. Try to keep your costs down when first starting out.

Essentials To Theme Your Food Unit

Once you have a vehicle selected, get it branded by a sign-making design company or completely wrapped in your design to your specific instructions. The set-up needs to be themed and attractive to both the organiser and the customers.


  • Make sure your unit is clean inside and out.
  • Make sure your unit has clean signage.
  • Get a personal hygiene certificate and a certificate display in your unit.
  • Register your company and register for self-assessment.
  • Get an accountant.
  • Make sure your unit has a clear menu with prices.
  • Offer a unique idea/concept.
  • Be aware of new events or people selling pitches.
  • Do in-depth research and get evidence and contracts.
  • Make sure you have relevant insurance.

Overview of my Street Food Business book

The guide covers each area step by step. As you read through the chapters and study them, you will be able to answer critical questions that will come up, such as the following:

  • Is a street food business right for me?
  • How much do I need for start-up costs during the first year?
  • How do I choose products to maximise profits?
  • What equipment will I need and how much does it cost?
  • Pros and cons of a truck (van), trailer and gazebo.
  • How do I brand and name my street food business?
  • What legal requirements do I need to understand?
  • How do I operate safely and legally?

More Essential Information In The Street Food Business Book

You will also learn skills such as how to create a menu, where to find all the equipment you will need and how to write a business plan. In addition, you will learn how to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors by successfully using the Internet and social media.

There is also a chapter designated to give vital street food industry contact details. More questions that will be answered in this step-by-step guide include the following:

  • What training qualifications and licenses do I need?
  • What pitfalls do I need to be aware of?
  • How do I hire, manage, and motivate staff?
  • How do I apply to a market organiser to trade?
  • Do I need an accountant?
  • How to leverage free marketing?
  • Why do street food businesses fail?
  • Vital industry contacts with contact details.

Perhaps you want to embark on a rewarding new career or you’re a budding chef entrepreneur, dreaming of having a branded street food empire. You may even be on your way to opening your own restaurant and need a starting point for your concepts. You may have recently completed a professional cookery course and are looking for a way to get your ideas out there.

Buy Starting And Running A Street Food Business >>

Street Food Hotspots From Around The World

There are many countries all over the world with great street food all areas will have their own regional specialities and some will also have foods from other areas of the world. To follow are some countries with great street food.

Copenhagen Street Food     

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark with very popular street food markets. And one of the main markets with food and stalls is in Copenhagen itself, which serves cuisines from all over the world including Brazilian, South Korean and India.

Thai Street Food

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and has a range of traditional street food. What is the street food style in Thai? Thai food is quick to cook full of flavour and uses a lot of chillies. Thai street food is popular in the UK with many stalls at markets and festivals offering Thai food.

Italian Street Food

Italian street food is very popular in Italy with a quick flavoursome style. The UK has many Italian street food stalls and mobile caterers, foods will include pasta dishes and pizzas.

Indian Street Food

One of the most popular food cuisines in the world. What is street food in India –  Indian street food is delicious and suits the UK perfectly? The Uk customer loves the spices flavours and heat of the Indian cuisine. 

London Street Food 

London is a great place to experience street food, with a large mix of cultures there is a big demand for a broad range of street food. There are street food festivals happening regularly and many stalls open all year round.

Street Food Cinema!

What is street food cinema? During the summer in not only London but all over the UK, there are many outdoor cinemas and festivals to set up a street food stall

 “Street food is a good way to try new dishes and concepts on customers”

 Run Your Own Street Food Business Tips

If you have a keen interest in cooking and can cook a number of great dishes and are looking to sell your foods to the public, questions you will need to answer include:

  • How do I set up a street food stall in my local area?
  • Do I need to register my food business?
  • Is it possible to make a lot of profit and expand my food business quickly?
  • Understanding and keep on top of health and safety laws.
  • What equipment is crucial?
  • Where do I buy the equipment?

1.Mobile Catering Research

Firstly you will need to think about and do some market research. If you can cook great Indian dishes then an area or market where there is no Indian food may be a good place to set up your business. Decide on the food you will be serving on your food stall, test the recipes on friends to get some feedback.

A good tip is to go to the area or market you want to set up a stall. Know you can find out that there is a need for, and create some simple flavoursome dishes.

2. Where will the business be located?

Setting up your mobile caterer will vary depending on where you want to have your stall, you can find markets and festivals to run your stall at.

Many will have a waiting list for caterers and fees to pay for the pitch. Markets are smaller but an easier option to begin your business.

3.How to register my business

To register your food business you will need to. Firstly go to your local council who will check you are ready to open and you have met the safety laws.

4. What equipment do I need and where can I buy the tools?

For a simple set up it can be relatively cheap, but you will need transportation for your equipment. The biggest expense for a mobile caterer will be the mobile catering van.

The equipment will depend on the food you are serving, depending on your food style. Cooking fast food to order, reheating food or selling cold foods.


Expanding will need to be done properly with a concise business plan. You can make your first business easy and simple to run is a great idea as anybody could learn how to set up and run the business.

6.Health and safety

There are strict health and safety laws to follow when running your catering setup. And also more information can be found in the food standards agency.

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