Do you own a food truck and want to know what charge clients for weddings? If YES, here are 7 factors that determine how much food trucks charge for an event.
Food trucks bring a general feel of excitement when they happen to land in an event location, because it gives an impression that its food time. Because of the hip, local, fresh, and convenient fare food trucks carry, they are welcome in almost any event.
Today’s catering scene is changing and it is common to see more people hiring food trucks to come and cater their events. These mini-kitchens on wheels tap into today’s trends for authenticity and experiences, as well as the age-old trend of appreciating delicious, thoughtfully prepared food.
How Much Do Food Trucks Charge for Wedding Events or Parties
Food truck catering costs range from $10 to $35 per guest. So the cost of catering 100 people will range from approximately $1,000 to $3,500. There is usually always a minimum cost, which may range from $800 to $1,300.
A dessert truck will cost less than a food truck providing mains, sides, and drinks for lunch or dinner. A food truck catering an event like an evening wedding reception, with its complex logistics and full dinner, will probably top out the price range. (Note that the approximately $35 per eater at the top end of food truck catering is still likely to be cheaper than the average of $70 per eater for traditional wedding catering.)
Table of Content
Factors That Influence the Prices of Hiring a Food Truck
But before you draw your conclusion, you should know that quite a lot of factors influence how much a food truck can charge for catering an event. Some of these factors include;
The Pricing Structure
The pricing structure of the food truck is one of the determinants of what it would charge to cater an event. When booking a food truck for an event, the main pricing structures are catering, attendee-pay, and business guarantee.
Catering is the most common structure for private events. In this structure, the food truck acts as the caterer, and provides an agreed-upon menu for an agreed-upon number of people.
Attendee-pay is common at large events that will host several trucks. Attendees simply order and pay for their own meals, as they would at any other food truck location. Food trucks aim for about 40-60 sales per hour at this type of event. Sometimes the food truck pays a fixed amount (often about 10 percent of projected revenue) or a percentage of its event revenue to the event organizer.
Under an attendee-pay pricing structure, food trucks may ask for a business guarantee—a minimum amount of business the organizer will guarantee. The organizer is on the hook for any shortfall between the actual business and the guarantee.
In busy metro areas where it seems like everything is more expensive, food trucks are no exception. Labor, ingredients, and permits are typically more expensive in these areas and food trucks charge more to maintain their profit margins. NYC and LA lead the pack in food truck costs.
Conversely, in less populated areas, the home base of your ideal food truck may be a significant distance away. Small to mid-sized cities and towns with food truck options are in the low-cost location sweet spot.
Also note that a public space might require a city permit, while private property will require enough space for the truck to park and operate. If your space is limited you may want to consider a different type of catering, such as a tent or pop-up. Many food trucks will provide these types of services, but pricing may not always be lower.
Many cities also have zoning and parking restrictions on food trucks. A common restriction does not allow a food truck to park within a certain distance from a restaurant. If your party is near other food establishments, make sure the food truck will be able to legally park at your venue.
The menu that you’re looking for affects the rental costs of a food truck catering more than any other factor. Tacos, hot dogs, and BBQ tend to be inexpensive food truck fare. Costly ingredients like lobster, or on-trend trucks that serve fusion or organic creations may be more expensive.
The going averages of the cost of food truck fare is as follows;
- Taco truck – $10-$18 per person with a rental minimum of about $900-$1,200.
- Burger food truck – $12-$20 per person, with a rental minimum of about $1,000-$1,300.
- Pizza food truck – $12-$20 per person, with a rental minimum of about $1,000-$1,300.
- BBQ food truck – $10-$20 per person, with a rental minimum of about $1,000-$1,300.
- Ice cream truck – $5-$10 per person, with a rental minimum of about $400-$800.
- Lobster food truck – $18-$25 per person, with a rental minimum of about $1,200-$1,500.
The pricing above will also be affected if you want drinks or dessert options, which will range between $1-$5 extra. If you’re having a small party of 50 guests or less, you’ll probably be affected by the truck rental minimums, and the price per person would increase. Food trucks set minimums because it’s not cheap to drive a restaurant to parties. Fuel costs, food costs, staffing, and drive time are just a few of the expenses that owners have to think about.
Location is another factor that affects the cost of renting a food truck. On the expensive side are major cities such as New York and Chicago, where it’s more expensive to operate a food truck due to city restrictions. In a city such as Los Angeles, prices will be higher than the national average, but will also range on how far a truck needs to travel and the cuisine type (renting a taco truck will be less expensive than getting a fusion truck).
If your party is in a city that does not allow food trucks or a rural location, prices will vary based on availability. Food trucks will typically not drive long distances without extra travel fees.
If you’re looking to rent a food truck for your wedding, the pricing will be different compared to a private party. Since weddings are more complex logistically, pricing will be higher than normal, but it will still be much more affordable than traditional wedding catering.
For 2019, the average cost of catering a wedding was $70 per guest, according to the Knot. Renting a food truck for catering will drop the price to $25-$35 per guest. If you have an average wedding of 150 people, total costs for food truck rentals will be $3,750-$5,250, instead of the normal $10,500.
Other Factors That Affect Food Truck Rental Costs
Yet another important factor is the popularity of the food truck you want to rent for your party. The Kogi Truck, for example, is the most famous Los Angeles food truck. Their party catering minimums for standard hours are $1,250 (and $1,500 for Saturday service). Note that this price does not include the additional 15% service charge.
Also note that prices will vary based on the date of your event. During popular holidays, such as July 4, many trucks book up, and therefore increase prices (especially for last minute bookings).
Keep in mind that food trucks also have standard operating times. A normal food truck catering will last 2 hours and the truck will be available during lunch and dinner hours. Some trucks will increase their minimums if they need to stay for longer than 2 hours or if the event is late-night.
At a minimum, a savory food truck, such as a taco or burger truck, will cost between $800-$1,500 to rent for an event. Dessert trucks such as an ice cream truck may cost less. Per-guest pricing will range from $10-$25 per eater.
All costs will depend on the location, cuisine type, and the food truck’s popularity. So if you’re having a party for 80 guests and you want a taco truck that charges $10 per person, you’ll meet the minimum of $800. If you have less guests, for example 50 people, you’ll still need to pay the minimum of $800.
In some cases other fees will be included, such as service fees, state taxes, and travel fees. Drink costs are usually separate and can range from $1-5 per person. Each food truck has different minimums and fees, so be sure to ask questions when reaching out to individual food trucks.