Nifty Stops In NC: Your Ultimate Guide To Food Trucks In NC

Food trucks are becoming incredibly popular, and extremely profitable. It’s the ideal time to start a food truck business in North Carolina and benefit from the success.

All across the USA, food trucks are becoming favored, and for good reason. Food trucks allow customers to get quick, delicious food on the go, without having to make any reservations. Many food trucks have loyal customers because the standard of quality can be even better than that of a restaurant. 

If you’re thinking about starting a food truck business in NC, then this guide should help you decide if this is the right choice for you. 

Nifty Stops In NC: Your Ultimate Guide To Food Trucks In NC

How To Start A Food Truck Business In North Carolina

A food truck is a mobile kitchen that serves prepared foods to customers. They are usually parked in streets, car parks, festivals, fairs, etc., and provide quick service meals. These trucks are typically equipped with refrigeration and cooking equipment.

There are many types of food trucks available today. Some specialize in certain kinds of cuisine like Mexican, Asian, Italian, Americana, etc. Others serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, beverages, etc. And some offer catering services.

In order to start a successful food truck business in North Carolina, there are several things you’ll need. You’ll need to find a location where there will be lots of foot traffic. You’ll also want to choose an area with plenty of parking space. This may require finding a vacant lot or street corner. 

You’ll also need to buy or rent a suitable vehicle. A food truck needs to look clean and professional. If it looks unkempt, people won’t trust it, and you won’t get customers.

While the food truck does not need to be perfect, it needs to be looked after. To give your truck a unique appearance, you might consider buying custom-made signs. You should also create your own logo, or hire someone to do so. 

Once you’ve found a suitable location, you’ll need to buy or lease a commercial kitchen. The size of the kitchen depends on how much food you plan to prepare.  

Next, you’ll need to hire a chef. The chef prepares all the food served by your food truck. He or she must know how to cook the cuisine and have experience preparing different dishes.

Hire someone who has experience running their own food truck business. This person will teach you how to run your food truck and help you build up a customer base. 

You’ll need to figure out what kind of menu you’d like to offer. There are hundreds of different menus available online. Choose one depending on what type of food you intend to serve.

For example, if you plan to serve sandwiches, pizzas, burgers, wraps, salads, appetizers, soups, etc., then you’ll need to pick a menu that covers those items. 

North Carolina is a great place to start a food truck business, but it does take a lot of planning.  

Create A Plan For Your Food Truck Business

 As stated, planning is vital for a successful business. No business can be successful without the right planning. You need to know everything about your business and plan for any negative scenarios that could happen. 

Here is an example of some factors to consider, when planning: 

  1. What type of menu will the food truck offer? 
  2. Who will be in charge of the cooking, who will be in charge of administration? How many staff members will there be? 
  3. How much money would you need to make per month to cover costs? 
  4. Where will you park your food truck?
  5. How long before you can break even? What expenses will you incur during this time?
  6. How much time will you spend working on your business each day?
  7. What are the prices of the food items? 
  8. What advertising will be used? 
  9. What social media will be used? 
  10. What insurance is needed? 
  11. Are any permits required? 
  12. Who will be your suppliers? 

All of these questions should be answered during the planning stage. These are just a couple of questions that needed to be answered, but it gives an overview of the amount of planning that is required for a food truck business. 

Register Your Business

Register Your Business

When starting a new business, it’s important to register it with your local authority. In North Carolina, you need to register your business online, on the North Carolina Secretary of State website.

Unlike most states, it is free to register your business in North Carolina. Once registered, your business becomes legal, and you can begin operating it.   

Get A Food Truck And A Commercial Space

To operate a food truck business, you’ll need to get a food truck and a suitable commercial space.

Commercial space is where you will set up your food truck. Commercial space must meet certain requirements. In North Carolina and all USA states, you will need to get a permit. 

However, unlike most states, food trucks are generally only permitted in car parks, and they need permits for special events (like fairs). This does depend on the area, so it’s important to check with your local authorities.  

Getting a food truck is fairly easy, but it is an expensive endeavor. There are a lot of options to choose from.  The first option is to buy a brand-new food truck. This is the most expensive option. 

Buying a new food truck means that you will have the latest technology, and your truck will not need any updating. It’s ideal for those who require a certain polished look for their brand.

The second option is to buy a used food truck. This is a great option, as people save tons of money. The price of used food trucks can vary. In some cases, they can be relatively inexpensive, and in other cases, they can be as expensive as a brand-new truck. It depends on the quality of the truck.

The last option is to rent a food truck. This is common for those who cannot afford to buy a food truck outright. It’s a good way to start a business while saving for a food truck to buy. It’s also a good option for someone who is unsure of the industry.

Furthermore, it means that if they decide the food truck life is not for them, they do not have a food truck left to sell. 

Obtain The Necessary Operating Permits And Licenses

It can be difficult for new entrepreneurs to get started with their own food truck businesses in North Carolina. This is because the legal requirements can be confusing. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. 

In North Carolina, food truck owners need to apply for a Temporary Infrastructure Agreement. This is valid for one year. It permits food truck owners to occupy space within the City’s right-of-way. A Business Verification Letter is needed if the food truck is parked in a business location. This costs $15.60.

A food truck service permit is also imperative, it is illegal to sell food from a food truck without one. The food truck service permit is licensed by the State Department of Agriculture. 

Obtain Food Truck Insurance

Food truck insurance is extremely important. This protects the business and can help prevent the business from going into debt if a legal situation occurs.

A typical policy covers all aspects of the business, including vehicle damage, employee injuries, employee theft, liability, property damage, etc. The cost of the insurance depends on the size of the business, as well as the type of coverage required. 

Commercial auto insurance is essential, and a legal requirement. If you have more than three employees, then you may legally need to have workers’ compensation insurance.  

How Much Does A Food Truck Cost In North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the prices of food trucks can vary. It depends on whether the food trucks are brand-new, used, or the food truck is being rented. 

Brand New Food Trucks – food trucks that are brand-new will almost always be more expensive. In North Carolina, it is estimated that brand-new food trucks cost between $70,000 and $150,000. 

Used Food Trucks – food trucks that are used tend to be a lot cheaper. However, it depends on the type of food truck. Modern food trucks with updated kitchen equipment can still be quite expensive. It is estimated that a used food truck in North Carolina costs between $20,000 and $70,000.

Rented Food Trucks – food trucks that are rented in North Carolina vary at prices. It depends on the quality of the food truck, and how modern the kitchen is. It is estimated that renting a food truck in North Carolina costs between $1,500 and $3,500 per month.  

Can Food Trucks Sell Alcohol In North Carolina?

Food trucks can sell alcohol in North Carolina. However, it is a legal requirement to get a license for this, and permits are needed for catering and events, or special events. Form for licenses and permits for alcohol can be found at ABC Commissions, North Carolina. 

Food Truck Inspection Checklist, North Carolina

Food Truck Inspection Checklist, North Carolina

It is critical that food truck owners are prepared for a food truck inspection. The food truck inspection needs to be passed. If the inspection is not passed, the business owner will need to fix the problems before they can legally sell food again. 

Below is an example of what a checklist may entail: 

  • Does the food truck have proper ventilation? 
  • Are the floors clean?
  • How often is the food truck cleaned?
  • Is all the cooking equipment cleaned, and how regularly does it get cleaned?
  • Does the food truck contain a fire extinguisher? 
  • Do all the employees have safety training?
  • Do all the employees have a certificate in food hygiene? 
  • Are gloves used while cooking? 
  • Is there a place to dispose of garbage?
  • Are the sinks clean? 

This is not a definitive, nor a finalized version of the checklist. It does, however, show examples of what the checklist may entail. 

Food Truck Fire Inspection Checklist, North Carolina

A food truck fire inspection in North Carolina will occur at least once a year. In North Carolina, fire inspections for food trucks are inspected by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 

Below is an example of what the checklist may entail: 

  • What type of paint is used for the food truck? 
  • What is the condition of the paint used?
  • How many gas containers are used on average?
  • How much fuel is stored in each container?
  • How long has the gas been stored? How old is the gas supply?
  • What is the condition and size of the propane tanks?
  • Have there been any gas leaks?
  • How often do you inspect your food truck?
  • How often does the food truck receive repairs?
  • Does the fire alarm system work?
  • Where is the fire extinguisher placed?
  • Do all employees have fire safety training?

This is not a definitive, nor a finalized version of the checklist. It does, however, show examples of what the checklist may entail. 

Tips For Food Truck Success 

Here are some tips for success in North Carolina:

1. Know The Law 

If you want to open a food truck in North Carolina, make sure you know the laws.

Make sure you understand the rules and regulations about opening a food truck. You must also be aware of the local ordinances regarding the food truck. 

2. Do Your Research 

Make sure you research the area where you plan on operating your food truck. Find out which areas are best suited for a food truck. See if the area already has competition.

3. Pick An Area That Has Demand 

There are plenty of places in North Carolina that allow food trucks to operate. However, if you pick an area with demand, you will likely see more customers. 

4. Prepare Yourself For Inspections

Make sure you prepare yourself for inspections. Make sure you have everything ready to go when inspectors arrive. Make sure to research, so you do not forget something important.  

5. Always Be Prepared For Repairs

Be prepared for repairs. Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.

You need to keep money in the bank for any repairs or accidents. You should also check how much insurance will cover. Furthermore, you never know when an accident may happen, and sometimes it can be expensive. 

7. Stay Organized 

Stay organized so you don’t forget anything essential. Keep track of receipts, invoices, and other documents. 

8. Don’t Forget About Marketing

Marketing is crucial. People will only remember your name if they hear it from someone else. 

9. Make Sure To Get The Menu Right 

The menu should reflect the business and the brand. Make sure that the menu is great because if it’s a bland and boring menu, you’ll get very few customers.  

10. Have Fun!

Remember to enjoy yourself while running your food truck. Enjoying your job will mean more to you than just making money.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Are The Most Popular Cuisines For Food Trucks In North Carolina? 

There are various types of cuisines that people enjoy eating in North Carolina.

Some of the most popular cuisines include Mexican, Italian, Asian, French, American, and more. 

American food is always popular in North Carolina. Grilled cheese, mac and cheese, burgers, and hot dogs are always profitable. 

Is It difficult To Start A Food Truck Business? 

It is not easy to start a food truck business. A food truck business requires a lot of planning. There are also a lot of permits and licenses to obtain, as well as inspections. Plus, you need to have enough capital to start the business. 

Is It Better To Rent, Or Buy A Food Truck? 

This depends on the individual. No option is objectively better, because it depends on the business itself. 

Renting a food truck is a good idea for those who have no industry experience. It means they can experience the food truck industry, without having to spend tons of money on a food truck. If they discover they do not like the industry, they then do not have to go through the process of selling the truck. 

Buying a food truck is the better option for those who know that they definitely want a food truck business. 

However, it’s more expensive to buy a food truck. So those who are sure about their business, but cannot afford a food truck, may rent a food truck until they save up money. 


We hope that this guide has helped you understand the basics of starting a food truck in North Carolina.

Overall, starting a food truck business in North Carolina is not easy. You must be willing to put in the time. This isn’t something you should just jump into. You’ll need to devote yourself to learning everything you possibly can about running a successful food truck.

The best way to learn is to get involved in the community. Attend local events, talk to other vendors, etc. Do whatever you can to learn as much as possible.

Hilary O’Shea