In the United States, food trucks pay around $500 – $1000 to park at an event. These payments come in a staggering variety of shapes and sizes; as a percentage of food sales, a fixed flat fee on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, or even a donation to charity.

As a mobile food trucker, you may find a food truck space for rent with an established food truck lot that charges a set fee based on the day or month. Also, you may negotiate a custom arrangement with a specific property owner who is eager for extra income or wants a food truck to attract extra traffic for an existing brick and mortar business.

Also note that farmers’ markets and weekly festivals lease space to food truck operators as well, using a set daily price or asking for a percentage of daily sales. Towns, cities, and counties have varying zoning and parking restrictions, designating commercial and non-commercial zones.

Note that in most US cities, you can’t just park your food truck on the street in front of a business. You will have to apply to the transportation department to make sure that the space where you plan to park meets local guidelines such as not obstructing traffic or taking up precious retail parking.

Also have it in mind that some spots have already been vetted and approved while others will require you to take the initiative and petition for their use. Most local health departments will expect you to operate within a certain distance of a fully plumbed bathroom so you can wash your hands immediately after using the toilet.

A good number of locations will require you to be no further than 200 feet from a legitimate bathroom. If the person or company leasing you the space to park your food truck doesn’t have a bathroom on site, then you will be expected to secure a signed bathroom agreement from a nearby business such as a coffee shop or office building, although you may have to pay a nominal sum for this convenience.

The exact amount food trucks pay will vary greatly based on various factors and payment structures. 

Factors That Affect The Amount Food Trucks Pay For Parking

  1. Lease Agreements

Normally, the terms and proposals of lease agreements tend to differ from one space owner to another. Therefore, when negotiating with someone to lease space to park your food truck and vend, you will have to make sure the property has the amenities you will need to operate legally. Also, note that permits and regulations vary across different areas so make sure to contact your local health department and transportation authority before entering into an arrangement with a property owner.

  1. Different Types Of Events

Indeed, not all events are created equal in terms of size, the number of people who attend, and ultimately what food trucks pay to serve their food. For example, mobile caterers may have to pay more to park at festivals because there is high traffic (people); they have longer trading hours and have what is known as a “captive audience”. Howbeit, organizers will often charge less for a one-day street food market, where footfall may be less with shorter trading hours.

  • Festivals: 3-4 day events with high volume footfall, captive markets, and long trading hours. Pricing models include: Fixed Fee Percentage of sales, Percentage of sales + fixed fee
  • Street food markets: 1 or 2-day food markets where footfall may be less and with shorter trading hours. Note that there are also street food markets that operate 4-7 days per week as the industry is growing. Pricing models include: Fixed daily/weekly/monthly fee.
  • Business districts: Normally within Monday to Friday on the lunchtime period of 12-2 pm. Also, note that they have very short trading hours and there may be competition in the area with other brick and mortar food retailers. Pricing models include: Fixed fee
  • Corporate events: Event organizers will have to contact the food truck vendors directly through their business website or other social media channels to attend their event. Pricing models: Event organizer pays food truck
  • Public land: This is a piece of land owned by the state or local authority. Note that Information will usually be on their website where food trucks can park and how much they charge. Pricing models include Fixed weekly or monthly fees.
  1. Various Truck Park Rates

A food truck park, or pod, is simply a dedicated space that hosts a community of food trucks and carts, attracts customers looking for food options, and provides an area with eating amenities such as tables, tents, and bathrooms.

Note that rental rates for a food truck park are about $500 to $1,000 per month and you can make the most of your investment by vending as often as possible. Many food truck pods offer space on a daily basis as well, but you will pay more per day if you reserve dates individually than if you commit to a block of time.

  1. Different Trading Hours

Also, have it in mind that the duration food trucks have to serve customers tends to play a role in how much they pay to park. For example, it’s good to expect a food truck to make fewer sales over a 5-6 hour period than it would over 14hours (street food market vs. festival).

  1. Different Types Of Traders

Also, the type of food or drink products a food truck sells will more or less influence the exact amount they pay to park. For example, a food truck selling cold products such as smoothies or ice cream will pay less when compared to a truck selling hot food like burgers or hotdogs. This is due to the price per unit for a smoothie is much lower than that of a burger. It also means food trucks that sell cold products have to sell double the amount in the same time frame to cover costs.

  1. Catering Arrangements

Have it in mind that food truck operators can also negotiate with individuals or groups for catering, which involves being paid by a single person or organization rather than asking each eater for payment. Like guaranteed sales events, there is no charge for a food truck space at a catered event.

The exact amount food trucks pay to park at events is not quantum physics and often comes down to specific circumstances. Hence it is very difficult to give specific examples. However, factors such as the overheads of the event organizer, the size of the event, what products are being sold and the length of the trading hours will all determine how much is paid.

Joy Nwokoro