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How to Convert a Trailer or School Bus into a Food Truck

Do you want to convert a trailer or school bus into a food truck? If YES, here are 5 menu ideas and concept that can work on a trailer or school bus.

Due to the growing popularity of food trucks, many old school buses are seeing a life extension by being converted into rolling restaurants or food skoolies. A skoolie, in simple terms, is a bus that has been converted and repurposed. In recent times, converting an old school bus into a food truck makes a great deal of sense.

These buses are large and roomy, and they offer enough internal space to accommodate all the kitchen equipment and other things needed by a food truck. According to Wikipedia, the length of an average food truck is 45 feet. Most floor plans for standard food trucks don’t exceed 20 feet in length.

Advantages of Using a School Bus or Trailer for a Food Truck

School buses are quite cheaper to buy or acquire when compared to other types of vehicles. Also note that the setup of school buses makes them a wonderful option for a food truck business, making refitting it a lot easier, compared to when using other types of vehicles.

School buses also have large doors and windows and are part of a fleet and as a result receive regular and consistent maintenance.

When a vehicle has been taken care of, it will generally run longer. Have it in mind that the extra space on a bus can be leveraged in a variety of ways. Some mobile food truck vendors utilize the extra storage space for food items. While others install seats and tables so customers can enjoy a meal inside the unit.

Note that this can offer a huge advantage in the event there is rain, wind, or other undesirable weather that forces customers to retreat indoors. With benefits like this, it is clear to see why a lot of food truck owners prefer to acquire old school buses and convert them into food skoolies.

Agreeably, most school buses have seen many years of service. While the routes that they are used on are not that rough, the constant use can take a huge toll on the vehicle. Also, if you plan to operate in a large city, it can be quite challenging to navigate tight urban streets with a bus.

It’s a whole lot harder to find street parking when you’re trying to find a 45 – foot long spot. Not an easy thing to do in most downtown areas! Also note that these buses come with a stinking gas mileage. It’s not uncommon to get between 4 – 6 miles per gallon of gasoline. Of course, how you drive the bus and environmental variables will have an impact on that estimate too.

5 Possible Menu ideas That Work Well on Converted Trailers or School Buses

All the ideas or menu concepts outline below can be executed on a food truck, small trucks, or even a sprinter van in some instances.

What a trailer or a school bus offers you is more room that is bigger and efficient to serve more people. You could also offer on – vehicle seating that allows customers to temporarily escape the wind, rain, or cold at an outdoor event. Nonetheless, here are the few ideas that have worked well on a bus for other business owners:

1. The Coffee Bus

On a good and working 45 – foot long bus, it will be easier to install all the equipment you need to match the beverage options of a brick and mortar coffee shop. Another attractive option is to create a long and attractive coffee bar on the outside of the vehicle allowing more customers to sit and enjoy their drink.

However, if you hope to start and manage this business in a warmer, year – round climate, then have it in mind that operating a stationary coffee bus can be a wonderful and lucrative option. Have it in mind there are many coffee shops operating out of converted shipping containers, but buses can work just as well.

2. The Crepe Bus

Over the years, we have witnessed creeps that have changed the face of the industry. Amazing Crepes in White Fish, Montana, is a unique example of a crepe bus.

By converting a Trailer or School Bus to a truck, you can offer your potential customers a variety of sweet or savoury crepe options, including ham and cheddar or Nutella and banana. Also note that some unique beverages can be served from this unit like homemade ginger lemonade.

3. The Burger Bus

Although you won’t need a full – size school bus to serve mouth – watering burgers, it is still a lucrative niche to consider.

One unique example of a burger bus in action is Bernie’s Burger Bus in Texas. Bernie’s Burger Bus has grown in popularity over the years and now has multiple units operating in the state. You can easily start and drive this truck around town to serve the every growing burger loving populace.

4. The Ice Cream Bus

With a converted trailer or school bus, you can offer a wide range of ice cream and soft – serve options. No matter the model or delicacies you choose, whether you want to compete with flavour options brick and mortar competitors or offer a jaw dropping range of desert options from soft-serve to snow cones, using a converted trailer or school bus will bring something unique to this concept and can make a great option to consider.

However, the only aspect you’ll want to keep in mind is that ice cream and soft – serve machines require a lot of energy to power. You will need a lot of generator power to keep your product cool.

5. Full-Service Restaurant Bus

We all agree that one of the major benefits of a Trailer or School bus is the space it offers you to build and install a lot of cooking equipment and food storage too. It gives you enough room to serve multi – course meals that smaller food trucks can’t actually pull off. In the United States, most food trucks have a slim menu.

Many mobile units focus on serving 3 – 5 core items. But with a Trailer or a big school bus, you can effectively serve a much larger menu that reflects what you would expect to see at a restaurant. Note that this gives you the potential advantage of serving a much larger menu. You could also serve bigger traditional meals including sides and all the fixings.


Any food truck business owner can choose to use a converted food truck for their business but not everyone will do so. Some business owners prefer to use smaller vehicles as it is easier to manage. However, at the end of the day, the people who end up operating food skoolies are everyday entrepreneurs who are seeking to be different while also serving memorable food and pursuing their dreams.