Get Messy In MA: Your Ultimate Guide To Food Trucks In Massachusetts

The food truck business is becoming extremely popular, and profitable, in Massachusetts. 

A food truck can be an excellent way to make some extra cash on the side, or even as your main source of income.

Some business owners, use their food trucks to create extra revenue. They consider it as a part-time business to create more money. For other business owners, food trucks become their permanent, full-time job.  Food truck businesses can be very successful, especially in Massachusetts. 

Get Messy In MA: Your Ultimate Guide To Food Trucks In Massachusetts

If you are planning to open a food truck in Massachusetts, then you need to know what type of permits and licenses you need to get before starting up. You must also know how much it costs to open a food truck. 

The best thing to do when choosing which type of food truck to buy is to research all of them thoroughly. Luckily, we created this magnificent guide for those considering a business in food trucks, so we know everything there is about food trucks in Massachusetts. 

This article will answer every question about operating a food truck in the great state of Massachusetts. It provides all there is to know about the food truck business! 

How To Start A Food Truck Business In Massachusetts

It’s first important to assess what a food truck is. 

A food truck is a type of mobile vendor. They sell food products to the public, and it’s intended to be fast-paced. Unlike a restaurant, food trucks tend to take no reservations. This is because the food is supposed to be cooked fairly fast.

Most food truck businesses do not provide outdoor seating areas, as the purpose of a food truck is to create food on the go. 

Food trucks have been around since the late 1980s. But, recently, they’ve become extremely popular. There are now thousands of food trucks across the United States.

And, many people love going out with a food truck. So, if you want to start a food truck in Massachusetts or anywhere else, now is a great day to start a food truck business. 

There is a lot to consider before starting a food truck business. It’s important to have an idea of the type of cuisine you plan to serve and to analyze all the local competition.

You might think you have a great idea, but there are already 10 food trucks in the area with the same menu. It is essential to make sure that the business has a unique selling point, as this will bring customers to the food truck. 

You should also check out any laws that apply to food trucks in Massachusetts. There are different types of food trucks, such as gourmet food trucks, hot dog carts, etc. That means that you’ll need to obtain specific permits and licenses. We discuss what licenses are needed later in the article. 

Create A Plan For Your Food Truck Business

Create A Plan For Your Food Truck Business

No food truck business can be successful without the work of a good plan. It takes a lot of planning to create a successful business. You need to know everything about the business and try to predict any situations that could cause a problem. 

In order to create a plan for your food truck business, you should think about and analyze the following points:  

  1. What would be the location? Where would you park your food truck? Is it possible to get parking near where you live? If not, where would you find parking?
  2. Who will run the business? How long will it take you to learn how to operate the food truck? Will you hire someone to help you?
  3. How much money will it cost to start the business? Are there any expenses that you won’t be able to cover?
  4. Do you have enough capital to start? If not, where will you get the money from?
  5. How will you advertise your food truck? What will you use to promote your food truck?
  6. Do you have experience running a similar business?
  7. Can you afford to lose money while you’re learning?
  8. Do you have a business license and permit?
  9. Have you done market research?
  10. What kind of equipment does your food truck require?
  11. How will you handle customer complaints?
  12. How will you deal with angry customers?
  13. What will you do if you don’t like the food truck business?

There is a lot to consider during the planning process. Note 13), planning for one of the worst outcomes. It is vital to understand that the business may not go as planned. If you discover you no longer want to be part of the food truck business, it is far easier to fall back onto a plan, rather than to be lost and overwhelmed.

Register Your Business

Registering a business is one of the first steps. 

It is vital for all businesses to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth before any business operations occur. This can be completed online, or in-person, at the Secretary of State’s Office. The process will overall cost around $100. 

Get A Food Truck And A Commercial Space

The next step is to get a food truck. 

Food trucks are a popular form of mobile restaurant. They allow people to eat on the go, and they give businesses more freedom than a brick-and-mortar establishment does. 

There are many kinds of food trucks. Some are hot dogs, some are pizza, some are ice cream, etc. It depends on what kind of food you plan to offer.

You should choose a food truck that is suitable for your needs. For example, if you plan to sell sandwiches, you should look for a general food truck. If you plan to sell pizza, then you should look for a pizzeria food truck. 

While this might seem obvious, different food trucks can contain different catering equipment. There are food trucks on the market that have built-in pizza ovens, which is necessary for pizza. Other food trucks might have special equipment for making ice cream. 

If the food truck does not require any specific equipment, then a general food truck is appropriate. There is always the option to purchase more catering equipment, but it can sometimes work out cheaper to buy a truck that already has the right kitchen. 

When it comes to purchasing a food truck, there are three options: 

1) Purchase a brand-new food truck: 

This option is great, as buying a brand-new food truck means the truck should be of an excellent standard. The catering equipment should be modern, and the truck will look established. The only issue with this method is that it is incredibly expensive. 

2) Purchase a used food truck:

This is another great option, and far cheaper than buying a brand-new food truck. Buying a used food truck is a good option because it can save lots of money. Depending on the quality of the food truck, it may also contain all the required kitchen equipment. Some used food trucks do not, however, so you may need to invest extra money. 

3) Rent a food truck: 

This option is good for those who cannot afford to currently buy a food truck and those who are not sure about whether they want to join the food truck business. For those who cannot afford a food truck, it allows them to start their business while they save money. Likewise, it can be a good option for those who have no experience in the industry, as they do not need to sell a food truck if they dislike the job. 

Then, the next step is to get a commercial space. 

It is important that all food truck businesses get a commercial space.

Here is a list of considerations: 

  1. Is the commercial space in a good location? 
  2. Is the location popular with the target audience? 
  3. Is it a popular location overall?
  4. Are there any other food trucks in this area? 
  5. Is the area safe for a food truck?  

These are some factors that are vital to consider. The customer and the safety of the vehicle should be considered when looking at commercial spaces.

Obtain The Necessary Operation Permits And Licenses

Obtain The Necessary Operation Permits And Licenses

Once you have sorted out the food truck and good commercial space, it’s then significant to obtain the permits and licenses needed to operate the food truck. 

Any food truck that sells cooked food, or commercially packaged food, needs to obtain a local permit. There needs to be a permit from the Local Board of Health. If the food truck plans to travel to different municipalities, there needs to be another permit for each area.

All plans need to be sent. This means the proposed layout of the truck, the equipment used, and even the intended menu. All of these needs to be considered by the team before they can provide a permit. 

It is vital that you contact the local authorities for your community. You will need to contact the Inspection Services and Fire Department. They will run inspections on the food truck to ensure it is safe. 

There is another vital license that is required. This is The State of Massachusetts Hawkers & Peddlers License. This can be applied online and is provided by the Massachusetts Office of Consumers Affairs and Business Regulations. 

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Obtain Food Truck Insurance

Insurance is vital for any food truck business. It protects the business if there is an accident, and it can prevent a business from going into debt. 

General liability insurance is needed. It means that if the business faces any liabilities, there will be compensation. Commercial auto insurance is also vital. It protects the businesses if there was a collision, which is massively important for food trucks. 

How Much Does A Food Truck Cost In Massachusetts?

The price of a food truck depends on the quality of the food truck, and the brand of the food truck. It is quite obvious that a brand-new food truck will cost more than a used food truck. However, while a rented food truck might seem cheaper, it can become more expensive than buying a food truck. 

This is an overview of how much food trucks generally cost: 

Brand-new food trucks: brand-new food trucks usually sell between $70,000 and $150,000. They are the most expensive option. 

Used food trucks: used food trucks tend to be the middle ground. It does, however, depend on the quality and the brand. Some used food trucks can be more expensive than brand-new food trucks. On average, a used food truck is priced around $25,000 and $70,000. 

Rented food trucks: rented food trucks can be cheap, but they can also be expensive. On average, rented food trucks are priced at $1,500 to $3,000. 

Food trucks are incredibly expensive to buy. Some people prefer to buy a used food truck and update it, to look like a brand-new food truck. Other people buy a used-food truck, but do not overly update the truck, because it matches the brand. Other business owners prefer a completely brand-new truck, as it is usually more reliable. 

Can Food Trucks Sell Alcohol In Massachusetts

Can Food Trucks Sell Alcohol In Massachusetts

It is legal for food trucks to sell alcohol in Massachusetts, but they do require a permit. 

To apply for a permit, business owners should contact the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. 

Most permits will take between 4 and 6 weeks. 

Food Truck Inspection Checklist, Massachusetts

Food truck inspections are incredibly important. If an inspection fails, the business will not be allowed to operate until they make the required changes. It is essential to prepare for any inspections. 

Below is an example of a checklist to consider: 

  • Have you inspected your exhaust system?
  • Is the cooking area ventilated? 
  • Does the food truck have a fire extinguisher?
  • Does the food truck have proper lighting?
  • Has anyone been injured at work?
  • Has a customer ever been injured? 
  • Are employees trained properly?
  • Does your equipment meet safety standards?
  • Do you have a health department license?
  • Do you have an emergency plan?
  • Do you have employees’ training certificates?
  • Do you have proof of insurance?
  • Do you have all the necessary paperwork? 

Note, that this is not a definitive checklist. You should contact your local authorities and ask for a specific checklist, or guide. 

Food Truck Fire Inspection Checklist, Massachusetts

It is also crucial to prepare for the fire inspection. If a fire inspection fails, a business will not be allowed to operate until the changes are made. A business has to be safe for employees, customers and the public. 

This is an example of a fire inspection checklist: 

  • Does the fire alarm work? When were the batteries last changed in the fire alarm? 
  • Is the cooking area ventilated?
  • Does the commercial location ensure that there is clearance for the fire department to access fire department connections?
  • Does the food truck have a fire extinguisher?
  • Is there a fire escape plan?
  • Does the food truck have sprinklers?
  • Does the food truck have carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Do you keep flammable materials away from the cooking area?

Note, that this is not a definitive checklist. You should contact your local authorities and ask for a specific checklist, or guide.  

Advice For A Successful Food Truck Business 

The food truck business is not an easy business. However, we have some excellent advice for those adventuring into the world of food trucks. 

Know Your Menu 

The menu is one of the most important parts of a food truck. The menu should not be basic. While basic food can sell, very few food trucks that have a basic menu have loyal customers.

Now, some menus might seem basic, but they may have a dish that is unique to them. For example, a burger food truck could have a burger that is unique to its brand. The customer will then go back to that food truck because they know they can’t get that exact burger anywhere else. 

The food does not always have to be complex, but it does need to be smart. So even the most seemingly basic menus should have something unique about them. 

Food truck owners should also be wary not to sell too many types of food. It’s very rare that a food truck business will sell burgers, curry and Japanese food at the same time. It is much easier to stick to one type of cuisine, and it is also much cheaper. 

Know The Competitors 

Before starting a business, it is vital for any business owner to work out any competitors in the area. This is very important. 

If there are already five food trucks in the area that focus on burgers, but no food truck focuses on mac and cheese, then mac and cheese may be a great option to choose. 

This does depend on the area. In places like New York, it is pretty much expected that there will be plenty of businesses that sell similar food. It is much easier in a smaller town and smaller city to have a more unique business. 

Know The Budget 

Before buying a food truck, and all the various licenses and equipment involved, it is crucial that a budget is made. 

Without a budget, it is very easy for a business to get into debt. 

A budget will protect businesses from spending too much money. Or, it can prevent businesses from continuing the pattern of spending too much money. Budgets are not always stuck to, and they can be changed. However, it gives the business organization and structure so that money is not wasted. 

It can also help business owners realize how expensive a food truck is. While buying a couple of burgers each money may not look expensive, it adds up in price. The budget will help business owners know how to price their items so that they can make a profit. 

Always Have A Back-Up Plan 

Every smart business owner will always have a backup plan.

If the business becomes unsuccessful, or the business owner no longer wants to be part of the food truck industry, they should have a plan. This means that instead of being confused and lost with how to go forward, they know exactly how to get out of the issue. 

Some people hate having backup plans because they think it means they are expecting the worst.

In reality, backup plans just prepare for unpredictability. A backup plan isn’t always used, but it is very important to have. 

Know The Customers 

Before starting the food truck business, it is vital that the business owner and employees have a good understanding of the target audience and the wider public. 

It is a good idea to go and see how the public interacts with other food trucks. 

It will help business owners know how to act when it comes to their own business. If their target audience is students, then having extremely high prices and fancy food probably isn’t ideal. If the target audience is students, then fast food options like mac n cheese might be more profitable. 

Don’t Forget Rude Customers 

Not every customer is nice. 

Customers can be rude and insulting. It is important that employees know how to act in this situation. It is also critical that proper safety training has been conducted. While it is significant that employees remain respectful, no employee’s safety should ever be in danger. 


Starting a food truck in Massachusetts, and anywhere, can be a challenging task. It takes a lot of planning to create a successful business. There are also a lot of licenses and permits to legally operate a food truck business. 

However, if done correctly, the food truck business can be extremely profitable. We hope this guide to the food truck business in Massachusetts has been of great help to you!

Hilary O’Shea