Concession Trailer Business – 5

By now the health department should have gotten back to you and sent you the booklet and forms you need to follow in setting up your concession trailer business.

Go through these forms and booklet and see what pertains to you directly and what pertains to the manufacturer of your concession stand. Everything that does not pertain to you directly put to the side for the person who will build your trailer.

Now make a list of everything you need to do yourself as stated by the health department.

Should not be that much.

Most will pertain to the manufacturer until you actually open for business then a lot will pertain to you after that.

Now after you have made the list follow it to the letter. I cannot get into anything specific here because every city, county, and state will be different.  Now lets take a break….go raid the fridge or visit the bathroom but come right back because we are ready for step six.

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Concession Trailer Business – 4

This can be a very tedious and discouraging job so prepare yourself for several letdowns before you find the perfect spot for your concession trailer.

As I am sure you know, you can’t just set your concession trailer anywhere. You need permission from the owner of the location. You could luck up and the first spot you choose might work out but that is very uncommon. Cross your fingers you never know.

Some location favorites of mine and some you might want to consider are Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, and grocery chains such as Food Lion, Albertson’s, Reasors. Large shopping malls are good as well.

What makes these locations so good is the fact that lots of people are already there to do their shopping so you do not need a lot of extra advertising to get the people to your concession stand.

Figure on paying a monthly rent of $200 to $600 for these spots. This might sound like an enormous amount to some but it’s worth it.

Lets say you have chosen a Super Wal-Mart as a good location to set up your concession stand. The first thing you should do before ever talking to the manager is to sit down and write out a plan to present to the store manager or property owner. Include in this plan the name of your business, your name, address, and phone and fax numbers, a couple pictures of your concession trailer or stand inside and out, a list of menu items and prices, hours of business, the number of persons working in the business and their names and phone numbers.

Then in paragraph form explain why you chose this particular location and why you want to be considered. In the next paragraph explain how you plan to keep your location clean and presentable. Explain that you have a cleaning schedule set up where your employees and yourself included walk the property around your stand and pick up any trash that might be lying around and state that you have several trash containers set by your stand where your customers can dispose of trash and that these are emptied regularly.

In the next paragraph tell them that you plan to purchase any supplies that you may need from them and state what supplies these will be such as ice, plates, cups, etc. in the final paragraph tell them how your stand will be doing their customers a service by offering them good food and good customer service which will make their shopping experience an enjoyable one. Then at the end of this statement thank them for their time and consideration.

Type this up in resume form and print out a couple copies. Make it as presentable as possible. Think of it as a resume for that job of a lifetime. Now make an appointment to speak with the day manager of the store. You can call to find out when the best time is or just stop by the store. Do not expect to show up on a busy shopping day and expect much so think it through first.

The manager’s hours are usually between 7 and 4 during the day so go in the morning during the week. The manager may sit down with you and ask you a hundred questions then again he may just take your form and say he will call you in a few days. Either way give him or her a few days to think it over then if you have not heard from him give him a call.

Be courteous don’t act impatient or impolite. Just explain that you are calling to check the status of your consideration. It may take a couple weeks to make a decision. If you are granted permission…. great! Celebration time. If not don’t get discouraged there are many of other places just as good and profitable.

Ok lets say that you don’t care about setting up in a parking lot of some shopping center but you want to set up beside a busy road or in an abandoned parking lot. All of these are good choices as well, just a little more work and patience.

First you need to evaluate traffic. If only 20 cars an hour pass then you will know its not any good for you. You need to also take into account accessibility. Check to see how easy it is to get into the lot or pull off to get to you and also how hard it is to get back out into traffic. Lets say that you are specializing in breakfast foods and hope to cater to all those people going to work in the morning between 5 and 9 am. If it is difficult to pull off or takes a lot of time getting back out people will not stop because chances are they are late getting to work anyway.

Another obstacle to check.. is there a median? Will people only going one way be able to pull in and if someone on the other side of the median wants to get to you will they have to make a U-Turn. Most of the time the driver will not go to this extra trouble.

Ok once you have found the roadside spot you want or parking lot you will need to find out who owns the property and give them a call to make an appointment.

Have your form or business plan with you that I had you write above and present it to the owner. This process may take a couple weeks as well.

You may have to go through a half dozen locations before you find one that the owner will let you set up but it is all worth it in the end.

Ok let’s move to step 5 ….

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Concession Trailer Business – 3

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.

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Concession Trailer Business – 2

While you’re waiting for the health department to send you all the information you requested sit down with your family or whoever you’re going to be in this business with and decide on a menu.

Nothing extravagant at first just a rough idea of what you would like to sell. Now narrow that down to 3 or 4 items. I also want to add that you should be creative. Unless you have a super delicious hamburger with a sauce that will make you forget your mortgage is due tomorrow don’t sell hamburgers and fries.

Everybody and their brother are already doing it.

Serve something unique that makes people want to stop and try it. For example serve steak tips with roasted garlic and mushroom sauce plate. Don’t see many of those so people will stop just to check you out. Come up with your own combination of unique recipes.

Don’t be scared.. I know you can do it;-)

In this business more is not better. McDonalds started out with 3 items on the menu….hamburgers, fries, and shakes. That’s how they were able to call it fast food.

Now look at them 97 items and adding more every day and a long ways from fast food. You can get an order faster at red lobster than a fast food joint now days. Too many items on the menu.

In the concession food business you have to offer fast food and mean it. People stopping at your concession trailer are unforgiving. They will not give you a second chance. You have to impress them the first time or you will never see them again. Then they go tell every one they know how horrible there experience was at your place. Its not a pretty picture so get it right the first time.

Just remember people are always in a hurry but they want good service and food as well so give them both. It’s not that hard to do.

Just imagine yourself on the other side of the window standing in line; you just got off work, kids screaming in the car. Little Josh duck taping his younger sisters’ head to the armrest. You’re standing there trying to remain calm knowing you’re only 2 steps from a nervous breakdown.

Then finally you get your order and rush to the car to find that Josh is now eating what is left of a seat cushion. You reach into the bag only to find that your order is not right!

Do you think you would ever visit this establishment again? Heck no! Not without a can of gasoline and a box of matches.

Now I know that example was a little extreme but you would be surprised at the condition people are in when they order food. People are stressed and always in a hurry so take that into account and do everything you can to make their day better.

Treat them with kindness and always give them a big smile and mean it. Let them know that you are appreciative of their business. Do this and you will have a loyal customer.

Ok I got a little off course from telling you to decide on your menu. (I will do that from time to time. Just a warning.)

Ok now we need to decide how many you are going to have working in the concession stand or trailer. Keep in mind this is a small space and not a full service kitchen. It also depends on the size of your trailer. If you are going to have 1 or 2 people inside, a 6 or 7 foot wide by 12 to 14 long will do. If you have 3 to 4 on the inside it will have to be 8 foot wide by at least 16 foot long.

Don’t plan on working with anyone you cant get along with on the outside because once you get in that little space it only gets worse. In my experience the perfect set up is 3 people. One working the window and register while fixing the drinks, One cook and one preparing the orders.

Since your just starting you can manage with just yourself doing it all and as your business grows bring another person in, as you need them. Or one cooking and one taking the orders which works out good for a husband and wife team. Now on to step 3….

Go to step..  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

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Concession Trailer Business Course

Welcome to the Concession Trailer Business Course. Here in this course you will find all the information you will ever need to know about food concession trailers and the concession business. I have broken down the relevant information into easy to read steps to help you get setup and into the business of making money with your very own concession trailer, espresso stand or coffee trailer.

Keep in mind when I mention concession trailer that the concession stand also falls into this category.

The difference is the concession trailer is mobile and can be moved from place to place to do shows, fairs, festivals, races, or just anywhere a gathering of people might be.

The concession stand is set up just like the trailer except it is usually permanent. You will usually find concession stands set up in a busy park or in a parking lot in front of shopping malls or department stores. Whichever style your interested in both have their good qualities and maybe a couple not so good. But don’t worry about the downside if you are really serious about the concession business then the good will over come the bad.

Another thing I want to add is don’t ever get in a rush.

This process will take time and if it’s rushed you will not succeed. When planning to buy or build a food concession trailer think of it as an investment and like buying a home for you and your family. You don’t go out looking for a house one morning and buy the next do you? Neither should you with a food concession trailer.

I know your excited and ready to start making the big bucks but trust me when I tell you that taking your time will pay off.

To do it right you should allow at least six months if not a year for planning and getting your concession trailer or concession stand built before making your first dollar.

Now I am sure your sitting there wondering why it’s going to take so long just to set up a food concession trailer. Here is why. If you are planning on traveling across country doing shows with your concession trailer this will not apply to you.

The very first thing or first step you need to do is get in touch with your county and city health departments and city ordnances office. These people are under staffed and never get in a hurry.

Expect this process to take from one week to 3 months.

Visit your city and county health departments in person if possible. Call first to make an appointment. Once you get an appointment sit down with him or her and explain to them what you are planning. Tell them you want to operate a food concession trailer in your state and you need to know what the codes and laws are. Also ask for a manual with all the guidelines in it pertaining to the concession business.

If you have an idea where you might like to set up mention this and make sure of any special codes or laws for this area. Then they will tell you what they need from you. Usually they ask for an outline of your trailer and all the plumbing and wiring diagrams and a business outline. Don’t panic. It’s not as hard as it sounds.

Now to step two.

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Concession Trailers

The concession trailers business is one that requires lots of insight into fairs, auto races, roadside stands, coffee houses, etc.

We know the concession business inside and out… we have had our own concession trailers setup at Super Chevy races and have been successful with that end of the business.

While we no longer sell concession trailers we are well qualified to share valuable information on the concession business to help you with such things as setup, cooking, where to sell, and anything else having to do with the concession business.

Please let us know if we can be of service to you in any way. We also know who’s who in the concession industry and can usally steer you in the right direction if you are looking for a vendor or supplier.

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Used Concession Trailers

A used concession trailer can be a good way to purchase a concession trailer. It will be cheaper than buying a new one and will allow you to get your feet wet in the concession business without spending an arm and a leg.

We plan to list some used trailers on this site for your convenience soon so keep checking back. There are many other resources online for finding a good used model to fit your need.

Go to and type in “used concession trailer” to find thousands of sites who either in used trailers or they can recommend some good resources.

There are no used concession trailers for sale at this time.
Please check back later.

Submit Used Concession Trailer/Concession Equipment Info

Classifieds are added at our discretion. There is a one time $25 fee for listing an ad with us. The listing will expire after 90 days if the item does not sell.

Please comment below if you are interested in posting an ad to sell a used trailer on this site. We will email you back with instructions.

The one time fee must be paid before the ad is posted on the site.

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Rustic Barbecue Concession Trailers

Barbecue concession trailers are usually rustic looking concession trailers sometimes made of logs and other rustic materials that not only make a solid trailer but an aesthetically pleasing one as well.

Good barbecue sells itself and there is nothing like the smell of hickory smoke wafting through the air from your very own barbecue trailer. People will smell your barbecue from several blocks away and come looking for it. If you need advice on cooking barbecue then please check out where you can learn everything you need to know about smoking ribs, brisket, chicken and more.

Barbecue Trailers

As you will find out, anyone can learn to smoke meat and make great barbecue. It requires patience and a little perseverence but when you think about what you have to gain by learning to cook barbecue style I think you can plainly see that it can only be profitable as well as fun.There are many sources for concession trailers built in the rustic, barbecue style.

One of the ones that immediately come to mind is the ones made by Southern Yankee barbecue. To find more sources do a search at for barbecue trailers. If we can help further in your search for a barbecue concession trailer or other concession equipment please let us know.

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Espresso Trailers

Espresso Trailers, Stands and Drive Thru’s are usually custom built. All across Washington state, Oregon, and all the way east to Maryland and new York, espresso trailers are a big thing. Cars lined up getting their morning boost. The opportunities are endless in the north and even moreso as you move south down into the central and southern United States.

We believe that in the next couple of years every state will begin to see these highly profitable coffee stands on street corners everywhere… one of them could be yours.

Espresso Trailers, Stands, Drive Thru’sStep One: Find and acquire a high traffic area to setup

Step Two: Contact a trailer manufacturer to plan/design your new trailer or purchase used model

Step Three: Health Department paperwork, city/state licensing, utilities

Step Four: Setup business and start making money

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