Infused Flavors In IL: Your Ultimate Guide To Food Trucks In Illinois

A food truck is a mobile restaurant that serves prepared foods, usually hot and ready to eat, in a street-side or other public location.

They are typically open for business during the day and close at night. The term “food truck” was coined by restaurateur Danny Meyer who opened Union Square Cafe in New York City in 1986.

He wanted to create an atmosphere of casual dining where people could sit down and enjoy their meal without feeling like they were eating on the run.

Infused Flavors In IL: Your Ultimate Guide To Food Trucks In Illinois

Food trucks have become popular around the world since then, with many cities having multiple food trucks operating within city limits. We even have them here in Illinois.

As the popularity of food trucks has grown, so has the number of laws regulating them. Most states regulate the use of food trucks differently from one another.

Some require permits while others do not. Many cities also have ordinances governing how food trucks can operate. These regulations vary widely, even between different cities in the same state. 

So what are the regulations in Illinois? In this article, we will walk through everything you need to know to get you started, along with some handy hints and tips, and some food truck recommendations.

How To Start A Food Truck Business In Illinois

If you’re thinking about starting a food truck business in Illinois, then this guide will help you get started. We’ll cover everything from the basics of getting your food truck up and running to how to find customers for your food truck.

There are two main types of food trucks: food carts and food trailers. Both types of food trucks serve similar foods but there are differences between the two.

A food cart is essentially a small stand-mounted on wheels. It can be as simple as a single countertop or it can be a full kitchen.

A food trailer is much larger than a food cart. They are often used for catering events, festivals, weddings, and corporate functions.

Both types of food truck businesses can be operated legally in Illinois with the correct permits and licenses. You also need to make sure you follow all local laws and ordinances regarding food trucks.

Create A Plan For Your Food Truck Business

Food trucks are a great way to make money and they can be very lucrative. If you have the right idea, then it is possible for you to start your own food truck business.

Once you have your concept established it is time to start working on your food truck business plan. You’ll need to write down your vision and financial plan.

Your food truck business plan should be organized into different sections. These sections should include an executive summary, goals, and a description of the food you want to serve.

You should also include a clear marketing and sales strategy to include providing an advertising plan and different marketing techniques you plan on using to promote your food truck.

A funding request includes clearly identifying where the money for your truck will come from and how much you will be needing to get your business started up.

A financial projection will show your investor the projected growth and financial plans for your company’s future over the next five years. 

Creating a detailed plan for your business before you open will be a great tool to not only see if your business is viable but whether it is possible.

Register Your Business In Illinois

Register Your Business In Illinois

Before you begin operating your food truck, you’ll need to register your business with the state. This process requires you to pay a fee and fill out several forms.

If you plan on doing business in more than one city, you will need to register your business in each city where you intend to operate.

If you plan to serve alcohol at your food truck, you must also register your business with the Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC).

Get A Food Truck And A Commercial Space In Illinois

Illinois is a great place to start your food truck business. It’s one of the most populous states in America, and it has an abundance of small towns. This means that there are plenty of places to park your food truck.

In addition, there are many large cities like Chicago and St. Louis which offer more space for parking your food truck.

Many of these locations also offer commercial spaces for rent. This makes it easy to set up shop at a location that offers both parking and commercial space.

If you’re looking for a location to park your food truck, here are some options:

  • Parking lots near schools and churches
  • Large shopping centers
  • Industrial parks
  • Airports
  • Public parks
  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Shopping malls
  • Office complexes
  • Convenience stores
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Amusement parks
  • Sports stadiums

It is important to note that each area may have its own regulations when it comes to operating a food truck business outside of the State rules. Make sure you check out the rules and regulations in your area so you know what you are allowed to do.

Obtain The Necessary Operation Permits And Licenses

In order to start a food truck business in IL, you must first obtain a license from the Department of Revenue. This license allows you to sell food products directly to consumers.

It does not allow you to sell to restaurants or other food service establishments.

Once you have obtained your license, you may apply for a permit to operate your food truck. If you are planning on selling food outside of the hours when most restaurants are open, then you will likely want to apply for a temporary permit.

This permit lets you operate your food truck until you receive your permanent license. Temporary permits cannot be renewed after three months.

Once you have received your permanent license, you will still need to comply with all local laws and ordinances that govern food trucks.

These include things such as zoning restrictions, parking requirements, etc.

Obtain Food Truck Insurance

Food truck insurance is a must for any food truck owner. It’s not only required by law, but it will also help you protect yourself from the many risks associated with operating your own business.

The first step to obtaining this type of coverage is to contact an agent who specializes in insuring mobile businesses. You should look for someone who can provide you with quotes from multiple carriers.

You should also make sure that your policy covers everything that might happen while you are running your food truck. For example, if you get into an accident while driving your food truck, you will need to cover the damage to your vehicle.

You will also need to ensure your food truck is against theft. This includes protecting your equipment and inventory, as well as covering the cost of replacing stolen items.

How Much Does A Food Truck Cost In Illinois?

The cost of owning a food truck varies depending on the location and size. The average food truck costs $5,000 to $10,000 to buy and operate. However, new trucks will be significantly more expensive. 

If you are just starting out, you may be able to find used vehicles at a reasonable price. However, once you begin to expand your operations, you will need to purchase new equipment.

If you decide to use a franchise model, then you can expect to pay anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000.

When purchasing your food truck it’s a good idea to look at the market and assess the average costs for vehicles. Have a look on social media listing sites and see if you can grab yourself a bargain.

Can Food Trucks Sell Alcohol In Illinois

Can Food Trucks Sell Alcohol In Illinois

Food trucks are popping up all over the country, selling everything from tacos to cupcakes. But can they also sell alcohol in Illinois? The answer is yes. But it’s not as easy as you might think.

In fact, there are several different rules governing the sale of alcoholic beverages in Illinois. These rules vary based on whether your food truck sells beer, wine, liquor, or mixed drinks.

To legally sell alcohol in Illinois, you must first obtain an ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) license.

You will need to apply for a Class B license if you plan on selling beer and wine.

A Class C license will allow you to sell liquor and mixed drinks.

There are additional fees involved when applying for these licenses.

Food Truck Inspection Checklist In Illinois

The following checklist is intended to help you prepare for your first food truck inspection. If you are a new or experienced mobile vendor, this guide will provide the information and tools necessary to ensure that your business complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

Before you start preparing for your first food truck inspections, you should familiarize yourself with the state’s food safety requirements.

Illinois Department Of Agriculture Requirements

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has set forth specific guidelines for the operation of food trucks. They require that food vendors follow certain procedures during their preparation and service of food.

These include:

  1. Keeping food handlers clean and sanitized
  2. Serving only safe foods
  3. Using proper utensils
  4. Providing adequate ventilation
  5. Maintaining a clean work area
  6. Storing food properly
  7. Reporting any health issues
  8. Notifying local authorities about food-related incidents
  9. Removing trash daily
  10. Disposing of waste properly
  11. Cleaning surfaces regularly
  12. Adhering to sanitation standards
  13. Having a written food handler training program
  14. Complying with food handling requirements
  15. Properly labeling containers
  16. Following other food safety recommendations
  17. Performing routine maintenance
  18. Inspecting facilities monthly
  19. Conducting annual inspections
  20. Producing records of inspections
  21. Filing reports of violations
  22. Complying with federal food safety requirements
  23. Registering with the U.S.D.A.
  24. Obtaining permits
  25. Complying with USDA regulations

Food Truck Fire Inspection In Illinois

The State of Illinois requires that all food trucks and carts be inspected prior to opening. The Food Truck Inspection Program is administered by the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) in conjunction with the Department of Public Works and the Office of Emergency Management.

This comprehensive fire safety inspection includes a visual inspection of the vehicle, including the interior and exterior, as well as a review of the equipment and storage areas. Inspections are conducted every two years. 

Why Choose Illinois To Open A Food Truck?

Illinois is a great place to open a food truck. It’s got the best climate, it has a lot of people who love food and are willing to try new things, and there are no state taxes on food trucks. But if you want to know why we think Illinois is the perfect place to open a food cart, then read on!

Best Climate For Food Trucks

Best Climate For Food Trucks

We have plenty of sunshine here in Illinois, so it’s easy to get enough light to cook and serve food. This means that you can keep your food warm without having to worry about using an oven or stove. You can also use a grill instead of a stovetop when cooking outside.

Lots Of People Love Food And Are Willing To Try New Things

People love food in Illinois, and they like trying new restaurants. There are more than 2 million residents living in Chicago alone, which makes up nearly half of the state’s population. This means that there are lots of people who will come out to eat at your food truck.

No Taxes On Food Trucks

In addition to being one of the most beautiful states in America, Illinois is also one of the few places where you don’t pay sales tax on food. That means that you won’t have to charge customers extra for serving them food.

The Best Food Trucks In Illinois

There’s a reason the food truck craze has taken off in Illinois. It’s because it’s easy to get great, cheap meals on wheels. And if you want to try something new and different, there are tons of options available. Here are some of our favorite food trucks in Illinois:

The Tornado Truck


This great little food truck serves some of the best of the best Gumbo around. Their Louisiana Chicken & Sausage Gumbo is definitely a highlight. But you’ll be lucky to get some as they sell out very fast! Head there early to enjoy the best of the best.

Lovin’ Cup Food Truck


The crab cakes at this super cute truck are mouthwatering! They also serve some delicious grilled cheese dishes and hearty soups.

Irie Jerk Food Truck


If you’re looking for an authentic Jamaican feast then this truck ticks all of the boxes! From their amazing jerk chicken or pork platters to the amazing Jamaican curry chicken, you will not be disappointed with what this van has to offer.

We also particularly love their take on the classic rice & peas side, and the fried plantain is truly something special.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Operate My Food Truck Without A License Or Permit?

Although it is illegal to operate a food truck without a valid license or permit, many people choose to ignore these rules.

Many people who own food trucks simply operate their vehicles during times when they would normally be closed. This means they may only be open for lunch hours or dinner hours.

If you want to avoid fines and penalties, you should always obtain a license or permit before opening your food truck.

What Is Business Planning For A Food Truck?

Food trucks may seem like fun, but they require serious business planning to be profitable and sustainable. You need to know how much money you can make from each customer so you can plan ahead accordingly.

You should also consider whether or not you want to invest in equipment such as refrigeration units and other essential items. These things will help you run your business efficiently.

You should also think about how you will manage your inventory. If you don’t keep enough food on hand, you could end up losing money.

How Much Does It Cost To Own A Food Truck?

Owning a food truck doesn’t cost a fortune. However, you do need to purchase licenses and permits, which can add up over time.

To start, you will likely need to buy a $500-$1,000 vending machine. Then you will have to pay a yearly fee for your state’s food-vending license.

In addition, you will need to pay for city permits and fees. The total cost of owning a food truck varies depending on where you live.

Do I Need Insurance For My Food Truck?

Insurance is important for every type of vehicle, including food trucks. It protects you against liability issues that might arise while operating your food truck.

Most states require you to carry general liability insurance. This covers you in case someone gets injured by your food truck.

Some states also require you to carry worker compensation insurance. This helps cover employees who get hurt while working on your food truck.

You should also look into purchasing commercial auto insurance. This type of coverage provides additional protection for your food truck and its contents.


If you are thinking about starting a food truck in Illinois, there are lots of things to factor in before deciding if it is the right choice for you.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be more prepared to face any challenges and have all the information you need to get started.

We’ve covered some of the most common scenarios you could face during the setup process, and our handy tips and checklists should get you started without a hitch.

Hilary O’Shea