One of our goals as Mobile Food Unit Houston [MFUH] include providing educational information about this growing industry & the business models behind them. Below are some facts & benefits that we believe will help many understand our industry better.
- Knowledgeable - All mobile food units (MFUs) are required to have at least 1 certified Food Handler Manager on board at all times
- Easy to Find - The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) department has notarized records of mobile food unit schedules
- Clean and Safe - All mobile food units are required to visit a commissary daily, after the day’s service. These visits are monitored and tracked by the HDHHS.
- Equal Standards - All mobile food units must face the same food health and safety regulations and standards as area restaurants, are subjected to routine inspections, and follow the same safety procedures as is expected of local restaurants
Liquid Propane Gas
- Popularity - There are approx 1,040,000 national commercial propane users
- Puncture-proof - Propane tanks are 20x more puncture-proof than gas tanks
- Low Risk - LP gas has the lowest flammability rating of any alternative fuel (940°F, compared to gasoline at 430 to 500°F)
- Preventative Measures - Safety devices and mechanisms are in place to prevent explosions, accidents and ruptures
Mobile Food Business
- Affordable Entry - Average start-up costs to open a mobile food business: $30,000 - $80,000
- Annual Revenues - Food Cart annual revenues range from $10,000 - $50,000
- Accountability - Vendors are required to hold a Sales Tax permit
- Appropriate Overhead -Vendors are responsible for regular overhead costs, such as parking and storage, kitchen space, commissary fees, and rent
- Brand Development - Restaurateurs who have opened a secondary mobile food truck have found that they serve better to increase brand presence, rather than relied upon to increase bottom lines
Carts are just the start
Over ½ of food cart owners plan to move in to a storefront in the future
“Many consider a cart an incubator, a place to develop recipes, pricing strategies and a customer base.” The future aspirations of MFU vendors range widely, and largely depend on the initial success of their individual business model. The vendors who opt to take the leap in to opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant “become symbols of possibility.”
Affordable options in this economy
Average sales ticket per person = $7
With food costs on the rise and lunch times increasingly shrinking, MFUs have become a fast, affordable option during tough economic times. Not only beneficial to consumers, mobile units “are the ultimate scrappy startup for a generation full of aspiring business owners who have an overflow of ambition and a dearth of cash."
Taking it to the streets
65% of mobile food customers walk to food carts. Mobile Food Units “activate public spaces” and “contribute color and variety to cities, arguably invigorating urban spaces.” These mobile businesses are seen as “part of the fabric of the city and the culture of the streets,” increasing vitality and vibrancy on the streets in which they park, and adding a sense of “belonging to a city.”
Wave of the future
Houston has experienced a 12% rise in self-employment from 2008. “The entrepreneurial drive in Houston is clearly not a response to economic disaster – the city has a culture that encourages striking out on your own.” This “shift to self-employment is likely to accelerate in the future, and into higher-paying professions.” The success of the Mobile Food industry will support and accelerate the entrepreneurial drive of Houston.