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Small Business Development Center
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If food is your business

January 20, 2014

The food industry tends to be pretty popular for many entrepreneurs when they decide to open a business. Cooking is something that comes natural to many; therefore, the idea of having a business doing something you are passionate about becomes very attractive.

The food industry tends to be pretty popular for many entrepreneurs when they decide to open a business. Cooking is something that comes natural to many; therefore, the idea of having a business doing something you are passionate about becomes very attractive.

Unfortunately for business owners, the food industry is one of the most regulated industries to start a business. Why? Because when food items are prepared under bad conditions, they can jeopardize consumer’s health.  The Texas Department of State Health Services has to keep standards of operation no matter the size, location, expertise or food items.

Owning a mobile business has many advantages, including comparatively low overhead. The average cost of starting a restaurant can be anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000, or even more. That includes the costs of a wait staff, furniture, and ventilation systems that mobile vendors don’t have to worry about.

Even though San Angelo has not fully developed the mobile kitchen industry compared to other cities, recently the questions on mobile kitchen operations have risen. Last year I had the opportunity to obtain my Food Manager Certification License as part of my continuing education to better assist our clients. The Food Manager Certification is a requirement for any business owner/manager of a food related business to operate. One certified manager is required per facility.  The certification covers the following areas: Importance of Food Safety, Good Personal Hygiene, Time and Temperature Control, Preventing Cross-Contamination, Cleaning and Sanitizing, Safe Food Preparation, Receiving and Storing Food, Methods of Thawing, Cooking, Cooling and Reheating Food, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), Food Safety Regulations and others. As you can see, the training is extensive and covers multiple areas. The certification is finalized by completing a multiple choice test covering all the areas.

With this training, managers learn to implement essential food safety practices and create a culture of food safety. Any other person involved in the preparation of food will be required to obtain a Food Handlers Certification. This program consists of an overview of food safety practices that are necessary to ensure that safe food is served at the establishment. The topics covered are similar to the ones included in the Food Manager Certification program.

Other important steps necessary to open a mobile kitchen include:

  • Health Department permits - Inspection. When purchasing the mobile food truck, make sure it has all the equipment necessary. Contact the health department to learn more about acceptable kitchen equipment and safety items, such as fire extinguishers or ventilation requirements.
  • Commissary requirement - According to Rule 229.169(b) of the Texas Administrative Code, mobile food establishments shall operate from a central preparation facility or other fixed food establishment and shall report to such location for supplies and for cleaning and servicing operations.
  • Apply for a business license through the county clerk’s office or register your business if forming a corporation, partnership or limited liability company through your state’s secretary of state’s office.

If you are interested in pursuing the idea of opening a mobile food truck, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

“Business Tips” was written by Adriana Balcorta Havins, Business Development Specialist and Certified Business Advisor I, of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact her at Adriana.Balcorta@angelo.edu.   

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    Adriana Balcorta-Havins

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