We have decided that our Roast Beef sandwich is doing so well, that we need to add more sandwiches like it. We will be pulling a couple of our sausages and adding a Black Forest Ham and a Pastrami on a 6 inch french bread loaf. These will be a “cold” sandwich not hot. We have stopped heating our Roast beef because folks prefer it cold with hot gravy. Means we have to shift into smaller pans for our cold table plus add some more toppings (two more cheeses and tomatoes, etc), but it is a different offering than the usual foods here. We have gone up against other vendors that sell the same stuff we do, you will not get out of that. While in TX, we had a vendor copy our entire menu because he was sure we were “cleaning up”. We weren’t but that was his perception. Anything you can make on your cart, someone else will copy. For starters you need to know what is allowed to be sold off the type of cart that you have. Then you need to figure out what you can easily serve out of the permitted foods. Then, once you figure that out, you make the best that you can make at a reasonable price. If your choice of food doesn’t fly… then change to another. Unlike a Bricks-n-mortar restaurant, the carts have the advantage of not only being able to move to follow the customers but they can easily change their menus completely in a few days.
I’ve noticed a trend here recently, it seems the box stores , Denney’s, IHOP and others are moving more towards Fair type foods, more then fairs are moving to traditional foods. we now see them pushing cheese cake pancakes, chocolate bacon waffles sandwich style, grilled cheese hamburgers, ( a hamburger between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches) and triple grilled cheese with deep fried cheese sticks in the middle. A clear indication they have a close eye on carts and mobile vendors. IHOP even has their funnel cake days. (it is a poor imitation by the way)
I agree with Billy if you have the bucks to slowly grow your business. Food can be very regional , Alabama boiled peanuts won’t sell in Iowa, Iowa Pork tenderloin won’t sell in Florida, funnel cakes in Nebraska but, in Michigan its gotta be, elephant ears. You have to do your research, see what sells in your part of the country. Over 30 years our rout took us through more then 25 states, we had to remenu several times each year.
I sell downtown in front of city hall M-F 11-3. This weekend my city closes the main street and has a Fun Fest Festival. As I started my business 3 months ago, I was too late to get a spot. I think this might of been a good thing. I think when people go to a special event. they are looking for those specialty foods that they don’t usually get, funnel cakes, turkey legs, roasted corn, etc. Let’s face it, you can get a dog at my cart almost any day. That, and the fact the space rental is $450 didn’t make it very attractive to me. Also you find that local groups such as boy scouts, church and other groups use this as a fund raiser and often sell at a low price
as they have no labor and sometimes have their product donated. So if you hear that just dogs might not be profitable, these might be some of the reasons. Although I’m sure some vendors here have done quite well. One other quick story. I’m in tight with the parks and rec and saw a flyer for a skate board competition, asked if I could cover it and was told they already had someone but they would use me next time. Was disappointed because it is only 3 blocks from my house. Went down the day of the competition. They had a group set up with a very simple tent, crock pots and quite a few people manning the site. I got a dog and asked how much I owed, they said oh, nothing they’re free. Turns out the Elks had helped sponsor the event and had for a couple of years. When my contact told me they had another one coming up and offered it to me, I declined. After getting free dogs for a couple of years, I don’t think I would be very popular charging for them, so I went to my regular saturday spot.
Are you a master of all food ????????? If your in LA the competition is stiff, people know their food. JW in another post said the busy trailer were Paella and pork steam buns, how many food trailer guys do you think are proficient in making Paella, or set up for making Steamed pork buns. IMHO you are going to see a big change in the traditional fair/festival food. If I was in La, I would look at getting an original food item, make it something everyone would want, and sell the shit out of it……………………………..The food trucks will be a lot more welcome in communities and the menus will be varied. I would look at doing a Philly Cheese Steak Stromboli and a Spinach Ricotta sun dried tomato Stromboli………………………….Bill
At our snack bar in the auction house we sell hot dogs. This year for warm weather festival we serve shaved ice and lemon shake-ups. We are going to look at a couple of used counter top pizza ovens in order to serve hot apple fritters and cookies for our cool weather festivals. By next spring we will add a sandwich prep unit, a slicer and a sandwich press to expand our menu.
Ps one other freebe “fair food” is always the number one two or third reason people go to the fair, people eat at a festival (with the exception of food festivals) usually, only, because they get hungry.
A unique menu will help you get into a festival but you have to hope it sells.
if you want to go full time, and cost isn’t that big a deal then your choice is a concession trailer. You can do many more things with it.
as far as are dogs able to compete in a festival, depends on the festival, I know that is an obscure answer, but I have written a whole book on just vending at festivals and fairs, but basically, don’t believe any thing a promoter tells you except how much money he/she wants. Their judge of the success of the festival is based on how much money they make, not on how much you make. They are renting real estate.
Most festivals will let the local cheerleaders,church groups, fire department or ? sell hot dogs along with every other food vendor there if they want to.
The uniqueness of a cart may attract attention, but enough ?
It is not unusual for a fairly small festival to cost you $1000 when you count your expenses that means you need to sell $1000 hot dogs to do any real good. That’s a lot of hot dogs.
When dealing with a fair, many times the rent is only the beginning of your cost.
As much as I would like to I can’t go through the entire book here. Ask me specific questions and I will help you all I can. http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/mailto:[email protected] [email protected] .com
Thanks Tasty Dogs 🙂
I have not yet purchased a cart or trailor.
My original plan was to secure a location, determine exact product mix, then rent / purchase trailor or cart to match the location.
I know it is not that easy, the first question I get from event coordinators is “What do you sell”
I want to ask the events “What do you need” , but that has so far been met with silence from the first event coordinator I have spoken with. (At least she picked up the phone as opposed to other event coordinators)
So in a sense I am confused on how to proceed.
Was hoping for a quick easy answer like “Hot dogs are the best” or “Kettle corn is the best” etc. 🙂
I am familiar with festival costs, although I obviously have no idea if such costs are acceptable to a hot dog cart.
Can you explain why a hot dog cart is an uphill battle ? Are festivals simply too expensive for a dog cart, and if so what else can I sell that is not an uphill battle.
Getting out of bed can be an uphill battle sometimes (Depending on how much fun I had the night before 🙂
No real stake in this stuff, but the most recent example of big corps taking stuff from trucks / carts for me is the “cantina taco” from Taco Bell.
And people I know are raving about them, I just tell them I have been eating the exact same tacos from local Mexican restaurants and food trucks for years, and for half the price.
Also, we eat both funnel cakes AND elephant ears in Iowa. 🙂
Spicy hot link
Also offer chili and cheese to any above.
Along with 4 types of chips, peanuts, sunflower seeds, soda & water.
I feel like I offer a good selection since I have a very small cart.
do you have a cart a truck or trailer?
search for festival topics, several posts there.
doing large festivals with just dogs is an up hill battle in most cases.
have you checked on the entry fee for food at festivals?
I know this is the “Professional Hot Dog Vendors” forum 🙂
I was seeking wisdom on what product to start with.
I know there are too many variables in my question so I will try to narrow the question somewhat.
I work a regular day job, so I am looking at doing various festivals or other weekend type events.
My first thought is Hot dogs, chips , and soda.
I see so many other types of food for sale at events, it seems like almost anything could work.
I used the search function on the forum here “best type of food to sell’
The “Search Gods” did not shine light on my journey 🙂
I know every situation is different, I was just hoping there was a somewhat “Better Item to start with”
Thanks in advance
Rookie needs advice on what type of food item to sell.
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