RESOURCES FOR CURRENT VENDORS
Own a mobile food business in New Orleans? Here are some helpful resources.
Click here to review the current mobile food vending laws in New Orleans
Coming soon: A guide to local special events and festivals, with contact info and dates.
Interested in Learning More? Have Questions or Comments? Contact Us!
RESOURCES FOR ASPIRING VENDORS
Interested in starting a mobile food business in New Orleans? Here’s where to start…
We’d love for you to tell us a little more about what you’re planning for your food truck. When we speak to city officials about changing New Orleans’ outdated mobile food vending laws, we’d like to be able to tell them about all the entrepreneurs who would jump at the chance to start a truck. Could you please fill out this quick form?
Also, please consider joining the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition and help support our efforts to make the laws in New Orleans more food truck friendly! You can join with a community membership, and then once your food truck is up and running, you can upgrade to a vendor membership simply by paying the difference in cost. Click here to become a member!
If you are new to small business ownership, the food industry, and/or mobile vending, we recommend that you learn as much as you can about all three. Read books on small business and the food industry, and take classes, especially those that address business planning and costing/profit. Get a job in a food truck or other food industry business if possible. Read about starting and managing your own food truck. We like this book a lot: The Complete Idiots Guide to Owning a Food Truck.
…And now for the information! How to open a food truck in New Orleans:
As you’ve probably heard, the most difficult part of the process is getting one of the coveted 100 Mobile Food Vendor Permits. We’ve been working with city officials and experts around the country to make it easier for you to get a permit, and for you to operate once you have your permit. But in the meantime, before you can apply for that permit, you must first take the following steps:
1. Buy a Truck!
There are several ways to buy a truck. You can pay for a new custom-outfitted food truck, you can buy a used food truck already equipped with a kitchen, or you can buy an empty box truck and build the kitchen with new or used appliances. There are pros and cons of each route (timing, costs, reliability), and this process can involve out-of state purchases and/or services, and so it is important to be mindful of local health and fire codes that are relevant to designing or choosing your truck.
Think outside the box – or truck, or cart, or van, bus, pushcart, or even bicycle. Depending on your business goals, what you want to make and sell, and even your aesthetics, you may not need an actual truck to have a mobile food business. Do some internet research to see what designs are out there. Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, and New York City have some wonderful alternatives to the standard “food truck” model. But be aware of the pros and cons: trucks are more flexible and allow easier growth and expansion in menu items – especially if they have grills and fryers. They are, however, more expensive than carts and many other alternatives.
2. Get a Fire Permit.
Fire permits are valid for one calendar year and expire January 31st. They cost $50 and must be paid by money order. To make an appointment for a fire inspection, call Inspector Hollard in the Fire Prevention Division, 504-913-1341. The station is located at 317 Decatur Street on the 2nd floor. In order to pass the fire inspection, your truck must pass a checklist of mandates issued by the New Orleans Fire Department. These include, but are not limited to, having three specific fire extinguishers with current tags; having a hood system with a current inspection tag (this is a separate, outside inspection that is required every 6 months); having a fire suppression system with current tags; having valid LPG tags (this also requires a separate, outside inspection); etc. The two area LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) inspectors are: Terry McLain, 985-276-2329, and Chad Ledet, 985-258-7050. The LPG inspection is free of charge.
3. Get a Health Permit.
Health permits are valid for one calendar year and expire June 30th. They cost $100 and must be paid by money order. The Health Department is located at 1450 Poydras Street, Suite 1204, 504-568-7970. In order to pass the health inspection, your truck must be in complete compliance with Part XXIII of the Louisiana State Sanitary Code and be fully operational at the time of inspection. These mandates include, but are not limited to, having a 3-basin sink and a separate hand washing sink, all with good pressure and hot water; having a wastewater tank with a capacity that exceeds that of the freshwater tank by at least 15%; having smooth and easily cleanable surfaces; having proper thermometers; having sanitizer and test kits, etc. It is also necessary to have an approved commissary kitchen where the food from the truck is prepared and stored. Contact the Health Department for a commissary letter and a copy of the health code checklist.
4. Get a Mobile Food Vendor Permit…
Mobile food vendor permits are valid for one calendar year and expire January 31st. They cost $305.25 (or $230.25 for small concessions such as sno-balls) and must be paid by cashier’s check or money order. To obtain a permit, you must bring a valid drivers license, your truck’s VIN number, your health permit, and your fire permit to the City of New Orleans Bureau of Revenue in City Hall, 1300 Perdido Street. The office is located on the first floor in the west wing, Room 1W15. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that there will be a permit available once you’ve spent the time and energy to buy your truck and get it up to code. You can only apply for this permit after you already have your truck, as well as your health and fire permits.
There’s a lot more to starting and owning a food truck of course – employee management, marketing, sourcing, costs/profits, simple equipment repair…the list goes on and on. But remember, lots of people start from scratch and end up with successful food truck businesses. You can too!