This ties in with your menu….. Deciding what the layout of your concession trailer will be as far as equipment, cabinets, windows, where you want your sinks, water and waste tanks.. read more below
Size and type of hot water tank, and all your outlets (receps), whether you are going to use propane or total electric, if you want ac and heat or not, How high the ceiling should be (have any giants in the family?), If you need a fridge or freezer or both, if you need a generator, cash register or cash box (five gallon bucket works great) location of entry door, bathroom (might want to ask the ladies before you answer this one) and what color.
I will take each of these one by one and explain the pros and cons of each. Then you can make up your own mind based on your needs.
• Equipment: This depends mostly on your menu. For example if your menu includes blooming onions, fried green tomatoes, and pizza (big sellers by the way) You would need at least 2 fryers to start (3 would be better) and at least one 20 inch pizza oven, a 3 or 4 tier pizza display warmer, food warmer station, microwave, 5.2 cubic foot chest freezer and 22 cubic foot refridge.
Now you get the measurements of all equipment. The fryers are 17 inches wide each for the floor models fast recovery, which I highly recommend. The pizza oven will be 23 to 25 depending on model and it will sit on your counter, pizza display warmer is 24 inches wide and it sits on counter as well. Food warmer will sit on counter and they are 18 inches each, microwave (lets hope its on the counter) will be from 24 to 32 inches wide, chest freezer will sit on floor (don’t put this on the counter no matter how bad you want to see if it will work up there) and is 37 to 39 inches wide depending on model, refridge can be an under counter commercial model which is 48 to 60 inches wide or an upright which will be 32 to 36 inches wide depending on model.
• Cabinets: You can never have too many cabinets I say. You already know from above how much cabinet surface space is going to be used up by equipment. You will need plenty of surface space for preparing food and sitting on during breaks (ha ha ha) so figure all that in and add a little more. You might be able to get by with cabinets just on one side and one end or you may want to surround yourself with them. Like I said you can never have enough cabinets. The cabinets are also used for storing your cooking tools, extra equipment like blenders, coffee maker, and beer keg no just kidding. Don’t get caught with one of those. Also you have to choose wood or aluminum cabinets. Both are great. Aluminum is more expensive though but last longer. And always think white. The health department’s favorite color.
• Windows: Well it depends on whether you want to feel like you’re in a dungeon or see the outside world. It goes without saying you will have at least 2 serving windows. I know you were sitting there thinking about that one serving window. Nope.. one is not going to cut it. One might work great that first week of opening when a lunch rush is 2 people and one of them just needs directions to McDonalds.
Look into the future lets say 2 months when the word has spread all over town that you serve the best chicken livers and biscuits in 9 counties people start lining up at 10:45 because they snuck away from work just so they could get some of your mouth watering food.
You look out and there are at least 30 people in line and all you have is that one window…You then say to yourself if only I had a second window I could have 2 lines and move them thru twice as fast and that would make your hungry customers very happy and your wife happy to because you would be bringing in twice the money during the same amount of time.
So say it with me…I want 2 serving windows in my concession trailer…Very good.
You will also want a stationary window or 2 so you can sit pastries or pies in front of so as your customers are standing in line they will see your homemade pies and pastries and want to try them. You see you got to take advantage of the situation here. You have a long line of starving people here. They are hungry they will buy anything as long as its edible. Kind of like going in the grocery store hungry. You get home and you start eating then as you’re filling up you glance over at the counter where the ripped open bags of food is still sitting and wonder to your self why in the world did you buy a 20 lb bag of Doritos and 8 boxes of little Debbie cakes…. because you were hungry.
You would have eaten Styrofoam if they had it in flavors.
• Sinks: Ok sinks are a must and you must have 4 of them. That’s the law and code. 3 Of the sinks are for washing your dishes (1 for wash, 1 for rinse, 1 for sanitizer, 1 hand sink) some states also make you install a mop sink. Sooner later all states will so I suggest you go ahead and get it over with. Now all you have to do is choose where you want them placed. At least 3 of the sinks have to be placed together. The hand sink has to be at least 12 inches from the other 3 sinks and can be placed anywhere. My suggestion is keep them all together as close as the law will allow. The least amount of plumbing the better. Some states also require you to have a soap and paper towel dispensers. Go ahead and install them.
• Fresh water and waste tanks: People get all crazy when it comes to how much fresh water you should carry. Unless you are planning on filling that hot tub you have on the roof of your concession trailer you don’t really need that much. I used to work the super Chevy shows and we would be so busy that no body took a break for hours. All I ever had was a 20-gallon tank and I never ran out during a 3 long day show. Your waste tank always has to be at least 15 percent larger than your fresh water tank.
• Hot Water Tanks: You have a choice between electric or gas. I have used both and liked them both. It just depends on you and what you like and whether or not it’s going to be easy getting power to your concession trailer. If not use propane. The next choice is what size. You can choose between the 1.5 gal, 2 gal, 3 gal, 5 gal, 6 gal and 10 gallon tanks. Here again it’s up to you. They will all do a good job and keep you in hot water. It basically comes down to space available and price. The smaller tanks cost a lot more than the larger one.
• Outlets (receps): figure on how many you will need then double it. You need extra so you can add equipment like coffee maker, slushy machine, blenders, cell phone chargers (even though your not going to have time to be talking on the phone. Oh yeah don’t forget one for that big screen TV. It will fit nicely in that corner. Don’t you think? Don’t forget to have a couple 220 plugs installed just in case you need them. Doesn’t that hot tub on the roof run off 220/ see you got a use for one already.
• Electric or Propane: Unless there is any hank hills out there this is something that really needs to be thought out. First ask yourself where you are going to be setting up. Does the locations have easy access to power? Are you going to be parked along the highway where there is no power? If you are going to do a show always ask about the power situation and ask if it is ok to bring a generator. If you are going to someplace new always take a generator.
I don’t want to insinuate that the fair ground officials or race track managers lie to you on purpose they just have no way of telling what the power situation will be the weekend of the show. You do not want to show up at the Houston’s annual cow patty throwing festival and find out that there are only two 20amp outlets for concession trailer use and there are already 37 concession stands pigtailed into it. I’ve seen it happen a lot. So my suggestion is to either buy you a good quiet generator or put everything you can on propane.
• AC & Heat or Not: Depends on how comfortable you want to be. Me I like comfort but that’s just me. You on the other hand might like feeling like a shrimp on the Barbie…to each his on. Also not many people like there food marinated with sweat so if your going to be where it’s hot I say get an AC. While you at it get an ac with a heat strip its only $55.00 more and this winter when your throwing your self on the grill to thaw out instead of the steaks you will wish you had. Even though you are going to have a lot of cooking and frying equipment inside it will still get pretty chilly inside one of those trailers on a cold winter day. Especially if then winds blowing or your up north. The most common size is a 13500 Btu and a 15000 Btu. Both do a good job in an average size concession trailer or stand (8×16)
• Ceiling Height: Average height is 6.5 ft but if possible go to 7ft you will thank me latter. You want to have plenty of headroom. Not any fun working all day with a splitting headache because you kept banging your head on a light cover or ceiling hook.
• Fridge, Freezer, or Both: Ok unless your planning on going big game hunting while the rest of the family is slaving away at the family concession business don’t overdo it on the size of your freezer. A regular 5.2 cubic foot chest freezer will hold a lot of stuff does just fine for your weekend 3 or 4-day shows. Some of you will want an upright freezer and even though they are more convenient and you wont get a hernia pulling slabs of beef out of them I don’t recommend getting one.
The reason is this. An upright freezer is around 32 inches wide and goes from ceiling to floor. Lots of spaced used here and remember your in a little box with very little space. A chest freezer on the other hand is not quite counter top height and you can build a fold up counter top over it so you can have that extra counter space and just fold up that section of counter top when you need in the freezer which will not be that much in a day.
Now just about every concession trailer will need some sort of refrigerator. Just depends on what kind of foods or product that requires refrigeration you will be carrying. If not much get a small under counter refridge if a lot get an upright model.
• Cash Register or Cashbox: I always recommend using a cash register. It not only keeps a record of all your sells and transaction by running a “z” It also is more secure and looks better to the public. The only reason I would use a cash box in this business is if your just dying to meet an IRS auditor face to face or if you are giving your food away and only asking for donations.
• Entry Door: Location of the entry door is crucial. The best place in my opinion is on the front end right over the tongue area. But put it where you see it using space best. Also the size of the door is very important. The sizes you have to choose from are 28in, 30in, 32in, 34in, and 36 in. Keep in mind the size of the equipment you will have to move into the trailer. You don’t want to order a 32-inch door installed in your concession trailer only to find out that the sandwich prep table needs 34 inches of door clearance to get through.
• Bathroom: very convenient but takes up a lot of space. But if you can spare the space I would encourage a bathroom. Before you make the decision though read through your manual you receive from the health department and see what they say about it. If a lot of troublesome codes are invoked just because you want the convenience of a bathroom inside your concession stand don’t install one. Instead rent a portajohn at each location your at for about 10 dollars a weekend and be content with that.
• Color: Inside will always be white no matter what. Any other color will just give you grief with some health inspectors. On the outside I still recommend white but this is your choice. The most common colors are white of course, red, blue, yellow, green, black, orange, and clear (gotcha thinking on that one didn’t I?)
Ok now that you have decided what equipment you want and need it is time to move to step four, deciding on a location.