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Starting a food truck business

Thinking of starting your own food truck business? Curious to know where to begin and what are some necessary requirements? The City of Calgary wants to provide potential food truck vendors information on regulatory requirements and help navigate the steps to obtaining necessary licences and/or permits.

We recommend these four steps for potential food truck vendors:

  1. Read the Alberta Health Services Mobile Vending Units information package. The package contains information on food handling, operation requirements, sanitary requirements and more.
  2. Review the Food Truck FAQ that may answer some of your initial questions about starting a food truck business. It contains information on necessary requirements for food truck vendors to operate in the City of Calgary. (For example: business licences, fire inspection, insurance, gas plumbing inspection, etc.) that may answer some of your initial questions about starting a food truck business. It contains information on necessary requirements for food truck vendors to operate in the City of Calgary. (For example: business licences, fire inspection, insurance, gas plumbing inspection, etc.)
  3. Also have a look at the Calgary Fire Department's Commercial Cooking Inspection Guide.
  4. Review the Business Licence information sheet.  It contains information on necessary requirements for food truck vendors to operate in the City of Calgary. (For example: business licences, fire inspection, insurance, gas plumbing inspection, etc...)  Once you are ready to pursue a food truck business, applications are accepted in person at the Planning Services Counter, 3rd Floor Municipal Building, 800 Macleod Tr. S.E. or over the phone at 403-268-5311.  

Vendor tips

Here are some starting tips from established vendors operating in Calgary.

  1. Initial cost to purchase a new food truck or upgrade a vehicle is approximately $60,000 - $100,000 plus additional costs for business planning. Please remember that older vehicle must comply with standards set by Alberta Health Services and the Calgary Fire Department.
  2. Do your homework. With all the info and exposure for trucks around the world, find out what they are doing and what makes them successful.
  3. Be great. Cutting corners and thinking this as an easy way to earn a living isn't wise. Everything from spending a bit extra on a quiet generator to ensuring you ingredient quality is paramount.
  4. Collaboration is the new competition. Align with other vendors, food business and groups to create a community and establish a presence. The long term viability of any business hinges on working with others who share your same ideas.
  5. Check local City bylaws that may apply to your truck (i.e. Health inspection. Do you have the right size sinks? Do you have hot and cold running water?)
  6. Spend your money wisely on the best quality generator. Make sure it meets The City's bylaws (e.g. Community Standards Bylaw). As a vendor working on the truck for several hours a quiet generator will assist with your own workspace and be more customer friendly. You don't want to be precluded from operating because of a noisy generator.
  7. Food for public consumption must be prepared in an approved commercial or community kitchen. No food preparation can be d
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    one from home.
  8. Big windows with high visibility to the inside of a truck make it much more approachable.
  9. Clear menu boards that can be read from a distance really help to speed up the lineup. If customers are still looking at the tiny menu when they are at the window it can slow up the process (Alley Burger use a pre-order form which helps as that is then used for the order to the kitchen staff).
  10. Although vendors are permitted to do all prep work, cooking and serving from their trucks, operators must make arrangement to dispose of grease, grey water and garbage in an appropriate manner in compliance with all regulations and laws. To ensure that all regulations are adhered to it is strongly recommended that vendors partner or have access to a restaurant or commercial kitchen. Vendors must also make arrangements to store the vehicle in an approved location.
  11. Treat your customers fairly.