Food trucks and carts have recently become wildly popular in urban centers across the United States, but in fact, they have been a fixture in certain parts of the country for decades. Catering companies have tapped into their allure, dispatching food trucks staffed with kitchen crews to prepare and serve specialty cuisines made to order for public and private events — from weddings and rehearsal dinners to themed parties and corporate shindigs. Several factors determine the cost to rent a food truck to feed event guests:
The food being served
The number of guests
The number of staffers needed on the truck
The number of hours the truck will be open to take orders and prepare made-to-order meals
- Any extras such as beverages and dessert
The cost will vary from $8-$30 or more per guest, depending on the type of food and number of extras included, such as multiple cuisines, beverages or dessert.
Food trucks are often owned by catering companies that have started offering "mobile services" via trucks and carts; on the other hand, some food trucks have added catering to their business model as a way to increase revenue. Companies typically charge clients who book a food truck based on the number of people they are feeding and which menu, cuisine or theme is chosen. Carefree Catering in Mesa, Arizona, offers what it calls “site dining” with a variety of buffet meals — from taco carts to burger bars — delivered at a cost of $8-$10 per person, depending on the menu choices and number of people served, plus a delivery charge that varies depending on the distance from their location to the client site. Sometimes they charge flat rates for a certain number of servings of a specific dish and bring enough ingredients to prepare that much food for the event. Flat rates start at $600 and go up from there.
Jerry’s Kitchen and and Farmstead Foods, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers 3 tiers of themed menus that include a variety of food truck fare. Price ranges are as follows:
Cutlet sandwiches: $14-$29/person
- Hummus bar: $8-$18/person
Jerry’s also offers a vegan version of its cheesesteak menu featuring seitan (a wheat-based meat substitute) "steak" and vegan “whiz” for the same price as the meat option.
Scholz Hospitality Group in Denver, Colorado, owns and operates two food trucks: Street Frites Mobile Eatery and the Royal Hustle Gourmet Taco Truck. The Street Frites menu is inspired by global street food, says owner Jason Scholz, and typically costs $20-$25 per person to provide food for weddings, parties and other special events. On a recent weekend, the Street Frites truck provided food for a 95-guest wedding held on a ranch outside of Denver for $2,400, including taxes and gratuity. Scholz uses locally sourced ingredients, including organic, sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken.
Most food truck companies will include nonalcoholic beverage options for an additional fee of $2-$3 per person. Alcoholic beverages will cost more, of course, as will hiring a bartender to mix and serve drinks.
Hiring a food truck to provide food for your wedding may cost less than hiring a full-service caterer. Nationwide, the average per-guest cost for wedding catering is $68, but by hiring a food truck, you can probably cut that cost to $20-$25 per guest. If you host 168 people at your wedding (the current nationwide average), renting a food truck would cost $3,360-$4,200, compared with $11,424 for catering. Alcoholic beverages will add to this cost, of course. Sholz adds that while a food truck for your wedding or special event is likely to cost less than a full-service catering contract, food trucks that offer high-quality ingredients and menus designed by experienced chefs aim to provide fresh, delicious food, not just fast food or a cut-rate catering option.
Access to power
Typically food trucks operate on generators fueled by propane, so access to an electrical hookup is not usually necessary. However, your food truck service may take advantage of electricity if it’s available. Be sure to confirm what power supply hookups your food service requires when booking.
Some trucks may charge an operations fee, which they will include in the total quote for your event. Scholz says his fee for his Street Frites and Royal Hustle trucks runs from $250-$350, which covers fuel and overhead costs.