So my family is Bolivian and my mom has been making traditional empanadas (salteñas) since forever. Absolutely everyone loves them, and for good reason - they're delicious and there isn't much like them in the states (unique filling combo). We had dinner last night and I proposed we try to make a food truck (in boston) and everyone came on board after little convincing. Additionally, we all have money, so this would all be fully funded with no outside help. I'm starting to do preliminary research now, but I was hoping that some food industry members of /ck/ could chime in with any direction/advice for a family who has never done anything in the food business before. Can a single food truck turn out enough profit to make this worthwhile for us (4 people)? Would a storefront be necessary?
thats such a niche market to just offer one thing for food.
at least by having more food on the menu, if this sucks, at least people can get something else from you.
> theyre good
if you have to say it, its probably not true
idk much about that, it has been something floating in my mind as something to do. If you do get a truck up and running, I bet getting a spot in SoWa at least a couple times would be worth
The restaurant business, and that includes food trucks, is a bitch. Many people start them but few succeed. Is it possible to turn enough profit? Yes. But it's far from certain.
Best advice I can give is the following:
1) Research your local laws pertaining to food trucks and serving food in general. You need to understand what the legal restrictions might be. Depending on the area the laws might be seriously problematic, or no big deal at all. You will probably be required to have a basic safety certification (servsafe or something like that). Depending on how draconian the area is you might face restrictions on where you can operate, where you can dump your wastewater, etc.
2) Make a business plan and account for every penny to see if this makes sense or not. Make sure you don't overlook anything--there's all sorts of expenses. Ingredients. Flatware/plates/etc to serve with. Condiments. Napkins. Fuel for your generator and/or gas for your fryer. Insurance. Maintenance for the truck. Disposal of used fryer grease. Etc.
>thats such a niche market to just offer one thing for food.
Lots of food trucks specialize in just one thing. It's nice because it greatly simplifies what you're doing on the truck. You're working in a cramped space with very limited resources (water for washing up, cooking space, etc.) so the simpler you can keep things then the less opportunity there is for fuckups.
Variety does have advantages too, but you need to be careful not to overcomplicate things. A good approach would be to choose some ancillary foods that can be cooked in a similar manner as whatever the main dish is. If OP is setting up the truck to fry empanadas then other fried items would be a good match since they use the same cooking equipment.
Thanks. The fillings are traditional in terms of salteñas, it's meat, potato, peas, olives, onion, raisins, and hard boiled egg. You just don't see that sort of combination in the US, especially not the raisins.
The idea would be to offer different varieties of empanadas, we just know this recipe works so we'd focus on promoting it specifically. And they are good, don't see why you feel the need to downplay it
SoWa would be good. My roommate tells me that all the people who work at downtown crossing/south station get lunch from food trucks. I bet we'd clean up if we posted up there for the lunch crowd
You could also post out at the parking lots of any factories or plants or whatever in the area. Clear it with management. I bet if you could find one with majority Hispanic staff (shouldn't be too hard desu) you could crush pretty good on a given lunch break. Hipsters would probably be into seeking that out, too. Get on social media and work it hard. Every day you go out, facebook tweet and instagram where you are. Photos of the food, photos of the people, photos of things going on nearby. Work that shit.
There was a Korean food truck in a town I used to live in that did that. They'd just post up in random places in the city whenever they felt like it, and they'd facebook and tweet where they were and have a crowd. Alternatively, there was a BBQ truck that was ALWAYS in the parking lot of a local bar Fri-Sun, and they just made BBQ and sold until they ran out. Sometimes by late evening, sometimes by 2-3pm. Massive lines, always busy.
I don't like traditional empanadas as much as fried t b h, and I'm not sure if traditional would be a bigger hit than fried in Ameriga :DD. And you're on the coast, so maybe do shrimp or something. I always liked that on the Chilean coast.
t. exchange student
I'm against frying them.
1. traditional salteñas are baked
2. boston is a healthy city
Shrimp is a good idea though. Mom said last time she tried it the shrimp became tough, migh have to lab it out in the kitchen for a bit
You should also make canastitas. It could work... Actually empanadas are the most practical food to have on the street.
Keep in mind that you need to focus on what your customers want rather than your personal preferences. If your customers prefer fried, then you sell fried. If your customers prefer baked, then bake them.
Also, frying does have some important advantages from a food-service perspective. It cooks very quickly so it is very practical for you to fry them to order. Fryers don't take up much space on your truck. They are easy to operate even when things get busy.
If you want to bake them then that means you cannot bake them to-order since nobody wants to wait that long to get their food. You'll have to make batches in advance of your anticipated orders. That can cause problems because if there's a rush you can't keep up, and if sales are lower than anticipated you have food that's already cooked and starting to go bad. Even if they don't spoil in the literal sense it can be difficult to stop them from going soggy. Ovens take up a lot more space on your truck than a fryer does. If you want to bake them then you need to figure out a way to address those issues. Maybe par-cook them in advance and then finish them to-order in a convection microwave?
You can't just sell one thing. People want variety, especially when it comes to "exotic" shit like random shit thrown into dough.
Make four different variations. One must be vegan, one must be gluten free (for real, people will ask), one must be chicken and one can be whatever meat you normally use.
Add one or two side options and maybe a kitschy drink and you have a menu for a food truck.
>Maybe par-cook them in advance and then finish them to-order in a convection microwave?
That's what I was thinking. Par cooked then finished in one of those Dunkin Donuts style ovens.
you better think this through real hard, m80. can't throw a brick and not hit a fod truck in downtown these days.
you need a business plan first. truck are more profitable than storefronts by a long way but they are no picnic either. the truck can go from 30-80K and licensing fees and supplies and what not.
you have a 6 month full time job before you open and hen you have a more than full time job.
start reading here: http://www.cityofboston.gov/foodtrucks/
There was a place in East Boston called Que Padre that sold salteñas. They closed. The fact that you think that these don't exist in the US when they have been available in the city you live means you should do more research before spending a lot of money to start a business.
The Cubans like shredded chicken in their empanadas, but everyone else makes them with raisins and hard boiled eggs.
If you want to be creative, offer the traditional stuff along with some more creative offerings. I'd kill for a dim sum soup dumpling-style empanada or beef stew empanada with the outside still crispy but the inner crust soaked in that sweet gravy.
Bueno suerte, gaucho.
They aren't rare at all and the traditional ingredients don't appeal to a wide range of palate type. Whenever I have one I enjoy it but then feel like its not something I wouldn't eat regularly. You're going to need variety to the flavors or even a special niche that keeps people coming back. Hell, this food truck in GA I used to frequent sold these but made them a fusion dish with southern flavors. They did pretty great and had enough variety to bring me back to try the different types.