Running a food truck successfully in the UK is a great way to dip your toe into hospitality without the overheads of bricks and mortar sites. An emerging market for the past few years, there are several outstanding food trucks and supporting markets across the UK and the globe that help new business owners navigate through launching new concepts and brands.
From locating ideal pitch spaces to managing your finances there are many challenges to starting on your own, however, it’s important to remember that many successful large restaurant groups started this way from Honest Burger, MeatLiquor, Pizza Pilgrims, Humble Crumble, CrossTown to Wingman’s and more.
Benefits of starting a food truck business
Many culinary professionals wish to have their restaurant. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a successful food truck. All food trucks mentioned below were able to stand out from the crowd and make the most out of their business by bringing together people and delicious food in a small, intimate setting. Connecting with the local community is without a doubt one of the biggest benefits of running a food truck. There are also many supportive initiatives out there when you first start out that can help you on your journey.
Businesses including KERB, as well as smaller investors from the industry, have been helping local food traders develop their offerings over multiple sites across London, allowing traders to create a base of loyal customers and broadening their commercial and peer networks.
Here are just a few of the other benefits that come with running your own food truck:
- Minimise risks that come with starting your restaurant
- Make your space mobile and more manageable
- It offers unique marketing opportunities by working at popular locations
- You reach captive audiences who follow particular venues, sites and brands that host markets
- You get to experiment with your menus
- You can keep your costs lower than you would be owning a restaurant
- You’re in complete control of your menu
Let’s check out some of the game-changing markets and innovators who have re-shaped sectors of the hospitality industry and have curated some of the best brands and food offerings in the past few years, helping food traders get started.
Locations: Seven Dials Market, KERB on The Quay, KERB Gherkin and KERB National Theatre, London
KERB is without a doubt one of London’s most beloved street food markets and brands of today. It’s the absolute mecca of food trucks with every popular dish you can imagine. Consisting of a community of talented street food traders they serve over 10,000 dishes per week and bring together people from all walks of life. One of the original innovators of the London scene KERB has bought us some of the most loved restaurants and brands of today including BAO, Truffle, Ice Kitchen, Pizza Pilgrims, Mother Clucker, Bleeker Street Burger and many more.
Now catering at some of the most prestigious London venues, including Somerset House, Royal Museums Greenwich, and many more, KERB put new traders through a three-month programme designed to give early-stage businesses with raw talent the chance to accelerate their growth.
Recruiting a fresh batch of ‘inKERBators’ every quarter, the KERB teamwork with traders brings them up to full KERB standards by providing market pitches, mentorship and access to resources, focus groups and one-to-one feedback. Successful in their approach over 29% of their traders have gone on to bricks and mortar or pop-ups with 78% of traders graduating from their programme since 2017.
Starting in 2012 KERB was born from a personal experience of making cities more interesting through food. Founder Petra Barran made it her mission to bring together a community and make street food accessible for everyone, leveling the playing-field for anyone who wanting to start a food truck.
KERB will also shortly launch their social enterprise arm of the business, overseeing a social outreach programme focused on developing strong, long-lasting pathways into food and hospitality.
Locations: Shoreditch, Croydon, Wembley
Next on our list of innovators of street food are the team behind BOXPARK. Roger Wade Founder started the pop-up space in 2011. Made from shipping containers and including destinations for shopping, street food and dining, BOXPRK has become iconic for its food, culture, socialising and community. Started with fashion pop-ups in mind, Roger didn’t realise the exponential growth that would come from independent food and drink traders. Being customer first, it has gone from a retail space to a complete retail, food and drink and event space.
With traders being able to take units on a short-term or long-term lease there have been some of the most popular food and entertainment brands and spaces come through BOXPARK including Poptata, Bao Buns, Pop Golf, Island Poke, Snog, Small Batch Coffee and Pasta Evangelists. Offering units from 300 sq ft up to 2850 sq ft, BOXPARK offer flexible terms, licensing, dedicated POS systems, delivery partnerships, click and collect options, as well as PR & Marketing support. Base rents start from £1k a week plus VAT and there is also a 10m x 10m pop up event space outside of Shoreditch with a capacity of 150+ guests.
White Rabbit Projects
A special mention on supporters White Rabbit Projects, who help to elevate food startups. White Rabbit Projects invest in small hospitality startups including Kricket, Lina Stores, Island Poke and Fafas. Chris Miller who founded White Rabbit Fund in 2016 after working in private equity and Soho House previously helped MeatLiquor get on its feet with financials. Focused on helping startup founders and chefs who don’t know much about property, finance or legal they work with brands to help them expand and get their concepts right.
Got inspired to run your food truck but don’t have any relevant experience?
At Otolo, we want to make sure that hospitality professionals are equipped with knowledge that will help them get to their next goal in the industry. We’re offering free hospitality development courses, providing London hospitality workers with the opportunity to be mentored by industry experts, have monthly CPD approved coaching sessions and career plans for the future. Take our free level-2 courses and kickstart your career.