Things To Consider When Getting Your Food Trailer Build Under Way

momma chows food trailerStarting your own business can be a very exciting experience. Unfortunately, it’s also got the potential to be a disaster. The goal of building a running a food trailer is one that many hope to accomplish. However, when it comes time to get your build underway, there are a few important things that you’re going to need to think about. Today, we’ll outline the most important things you should consider as well as explain to you why they are so important. So, without further ado, let’s get right to it!

What Types Of Food Will You Offer?

Having a food trailer is awesome! However, it’s only going to be awesome if it’s efficient. When I lived in Florida, one of my favorite fast food places to go to was Steak N Shake. Why? Because they had an open window to the kitchen. I would watch as one employee manned the grill, one manned the fryer, one handled the cold foods, one handled the drive through. It almost seemed as though the kitchen was built for efficiency. Why? Because it was.

The food you decide to offer in your food trailer will pay a big part when it comes to overall design. The truth is, food trailers don’t provide you with a huge kitchen. So, it’s important to use the space you have to the max. Knowing what food you plan to offer will give you an idea of what equipment you need and what equipment you don’t. Thinking about the preparation process will also give you a good idea of where to put what in your mobile kitchen!

Budgeting For After The Build

When building a food truck, it’s important to have plans and a budget before you get everything underway. I’m not talking about a budget for the build, although it is a very important thing to have. I’m actually talking about budgeting for after the build. Once you have your food cart, you’re going to need to get licences, you’ll need to purchase your first round of inventory, you’ll need to think about gas for your generators, rent for your space down town and more!

The best way to make sure that the food trailer you build turns into the successful business you know it can be is to be prepared both financially and mentally for the challenge. A budget is a great way to make sure that you’re financially ready for the jump into big time!

Know Who You’re Working With

Portland is a mecca for food carts. So naturally, there are tons of food cart builders out there. The only problem is, not all of them are great at what they do. When shopping for food cart builders, you often run into 3 things. Builders that low ball estimates and provide you with a less than acceptable build as a result, builders that ask you to pay far more than what it costs to build a quality food trailer, and builders like us. We won’t low ball you, and we won’t over charge you. You’ll get the great quality you know you deserve at a price you can afford! To request a quote, click here!


Mobile Food Trailers...Who To Go To And Why.


Mama's Chow Kitchen Food Cart

Here at we pride ourselves in being experts and innovators in the industry. If you are looking to have a food trailer built, from the ground up, you need to make sure that the company you are working with is able to back up their work with a quality product. There are a few things that we have down pat that others in the industry seem to lack.

A Commitment To A Quality Product

When you go to a quality builder for your mobile food trailer needs it’s important that you don’t just go to the company that can get you a cookie cutter trailer done in two days. What you need is a dedicated, educated, competent team of individuals who are committed to you and your needs. And that’s exactly what you’ll get here.

Our clients are our number one priority along with making sure that you have a quality trailer that is custom tailored to your business, we will make sure that you get exactly what you NEED. The thing is, we have been in the industry for years now, despite the fact that it has become quite saturated since our humble beginnings, we are still the same honest, fair and knowledgeable company that has built a reputation on excellence.

We don’t cut corners and we don’t charge ridiculous prices for beautiful food trailers. If you want a quality food trailer come to a company who stands behind their name.

Keep It Up To Code 

Often times when dealing with an inexperienced contractors or builders you could end up with an inferior product that is not only overpriced, but not up to code. Believe you me, a trailer that is not up to health code and other regulations is not a money pit that you want to fall into.

As a builder of food trailers all across the states it is vital that we are current and up to date on health and building codes on a per client basis. That is exactly why we stay in close contact with health departments and the committee’s that write codes. Building a quality trailer doesn’t just mean making a pretty, functioning, truck. It means following local laws so that you as a business owner aren’t heal liable for your builders mistakes. If your trailer is inspected and isn’t up to par you may not be able to start serving and may even be faced with fines.

Bottom line, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of this, and you won’t have to if you go to a great company. No shortcuts, ever!

We Care About Your Dollar

The cold hard truth is that the mobile food trailer industry is steadily growing and the demand is dramatically increasing. Both things are great for business in general but often times lead to outrageous markups. Here at we do not believe in overpriced builds, quite the opposite actually. We pride ourselves in having the most competitive bids and estimates in the market place. It’s that kind of honesty and integrity that sets us apart from all of our competition.

Get Your Quote Today

If you have any questions in regards to your trailer, or would like a proper estimate for your business, feel free to get in contact with us by phone or click here to fill out our online form.



Things To Consider When Buying A Food Cart

inside food cartDo you have a dream of becoming a restaurant owner? Here in Portland, and in many other areas across the United States, many restaurant owners start as food cart owners. Why? Well, the cost of owning a food cart or food truck is exponentially less than the cost of owning a brick and mortar restaurant. So, to break into the food service industry, many people take their brands mobile with food carts. Chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’re considering doing exactly the same thing! Today, we’re going to talk about what you should look for in your new food cart as well as the benefits of purchasing new over used.

New or Used?

One of the big questions I’m often asked is, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper if I just went and bought a used food truck and made necessary renovations to it? The easy answer to this question is NO! Buying a used food truck could leave you with the following issues…

  • Unique Need Issues - Every food truck is going to have its own specific needs. For instance, a pizza truck is going to need a large oven while a Chinese food truck will not.New food carts and trucks are designed to the exact specifications and needs of the buyer. Therefore, if you buy a used food truck, you’ll most likely have to change the entire layout to fit your needs.
  • Mechanical Repairs - We couldn’t count the number of times people brought us used food carts for repairs and the cost of repairs would be more than building a new cart. The simple reality is, there are several sub-par builders out there that don’t quite know what to do when it comes to electricity, water, and more. Regardless of your budget, to get your food cart rolling, you’re going to need everything working properly on a mechanical level.
  • Graphic Replacements - When you build a new food truck, you’ll need to choose what colors or graphics you’d like. However, if you buy an old food truck, chances are, you’ll have to makeover the entire exterior of the truck as you’ll want your own custom colors.

Above are the 3 most expensive renovations that may need to be done if you purchase a used food cart. However, there could be tons of other things you need. The bottom line is, when you buy a new food truck, you’ve got the initial say over the design. It will be designed specifically to your needs. Also, new food carts from PDX Cart Builders are guaranteed to have no mechanical issues! So, you won’t have to dump thousands into a new electrical system! All in all, we’ve found the cost to be generally the same between the two options, yet the overall quality to be much better when buyers decide to buy new.

What To Look For If You Decide To Go Used

There is absolutely nothing holding you back from purchasing a used food truck other than personal preference. However, if you decide to go used, it’s important to really pay attention to the following factors…

  • Axles - Often times, food cart builders will buy an empty trailer and add on to it. Unfortunately most trailers don’t come with sturdy enough axles to handle the amount of weight your food cart will need to hold. So, make sure to ask about the axles and how much weight they can hold.
  • Needs - Your food cart business is going to have some very unique needs. It’s important that you look at the layout of the used food cart to make sure that you will be able to customize it to fit your needs.
  • Electrical and Plumbing - Without electricity and plumbing, you’re not going to be able to cook. Take a look at all aspects of the electrical and plumbing systems to ensure that they are up to code for your area.

Final Thoughts 

If you decide to purchase a used food cart, it may be a good idea to have us look at it just to make sure it’s safe. If you’d like to do so, fill out our quote form today, we’d love to help!

Portland Food Cart Scene

As you walk down the streets of beautiful downtown Portland Oregon you will notice that there are vendors lining the sidewalks in small, sometimes mobile food carts. These food carts are not something that just popped up out of a nowhere, they made their way onto the scene and gained acceptance along the way. While other food cart communities are struggling to get the rubber on the road,do to local laws and community acceptance, Portland’s food cart community continues to grow, thrive, and prosper. I would even go as far as saying that Portland has respectfully earned the title of the food cart hub!

We have the pleasure of living in the wonderful land of original dishes, at low costs, but all around the nation others are not so lucky.Along with  many other attractions that the city provides to visitors, Portland is well known to many as a Mecca for food enthusiasts. A big reason that this food phenomenon has exploded in our local area is that the cultured city of Portland has embraced the presence of the carts and has made it easy to own and operate one.

Local Acceptance

Not only has the county health department been kind enough to allow these business to run and operate, unlike the struggle that owners have to go through in other places, but the real estate market has allowed a big boost as well by allowing owners a permanent place to park . Without this support or acceptance it has proven nearly impossible for other food cart communities to flourish. It may only take a year in Portland for you to open up your food cart, in other places an estimated average of 3-5 years is what it could take to get all of your licensing and approvals. Where some municipalities have completely banned food cars altogether Portland’s cultured community has completely embraced it. With the amount of attention the food scene has brought to the already infamous city I don’t see our beloved food carts going anywhere but to the next lunch location anytime soon.

Convenient Locations

Walking through the food scene you will see grouped bundles of carts all looking to grab your attention in their own way. On the surface they may appear to be parked directly on the sidewalk, but this is most defiantly not the case. These carts, more often then not, are renting space from the private property owners who have allowed cart owners to park on the outer barriers of their payed parking lots. This gives any business owner in our local area a one up on cart owners around the states, not only do they have ability to open a truck easily and with community backing but they have a place to park them for an extended period of time, in high traffic areas.

Here To Stay

A key difference that we are seeing is community backing. In a highly cultured city where good food is highly appreciated it would seem that these unique carts have earned their place. With local government backing and real estate owners willing to rent space in great locations the only thing these restaurant owners will have to worry about any time soon is the next big truck on the block.

The Low Cost Of Owning A Food Truck

momma chowsRisk evaluation should be a main concern when looking to start any business in today’s economy. The recent boom in the mobile restaurant industry has caused many with dreams of opening a traditional location to reconsider their culinary plan of attack.

The sad truth is that, statistically, 25 percent of brick-and-mortar restaurants fail within the first year after opening their doors  sixty percent are out of business by year three. With big ticket expenses such as , rent, operation costs, location renovation and improvement, marketing and advertising, legal and other miscellaneous expenses, some are left wondering if they will ever be able to make it in the industry. The average new restaurant, with a solid business model, will cost right around a half million dollars to get off of the ground. But wait; there is a better way!

Natural Progression

In any business natural organic growth is important. You start small, with your basics, and if you have a strong business model, can roll with the lumps and stay relevant, you have a shot. Food trucks, would seem to me, the make sense way into a saturated market. You are, in essence, taking your dream and scaling it down to a realistic initial investment, that you can manage without assuming such a big financial risk. With the average launch cost of about $100,000 or less, depending on your budget, you could very easily put the rubber to the road.

There are many costs involved in starting any business; here are some of the key cost factors associated with starting both types of business.

Restaurant Start-up Costs:

Renting a building for your new restaurant location can end up being a sizable initial investment in comparison. When you take into consideration the cost, to not only get into a building, but bring that building up to par for your needs you may see why so many are considering smaller investment choices. Some key cost factors to consider would be:

  • First months Building costs( $13,000 to $35,000)-Cost includes: Security deposit, first months rent and first months utilities. The cost will   vary greatly depending on location and are subject to change at your landlord’s discretion.
  • Construction and Renovations ($190,000 to $400,000)-Cost includes: floor plan design and construction, kitchen construction, seating, dining utensils, tableware, bar supplies, kitchen utensils and initial food costs.

  • Insurance and Permits($10,000 to $15,000)

  • Accounting and Merchant accounts(15,000 to 20,000)

  • Marketing and Advertising costs($20,00 to $60,000)- Cost includes: Signs, menus, flyers, business cards, public relations and an optional grand opening. These costs will vary greatly depending on business plans and models.

This leaves the initial investment, to get into a suitable location and open your doors somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000.

Food Truck Start-up Costs:

While owning a food truck could be considered a miniscule investment in comparison to  owning a restaurant, it is no commitment to jump into without careful consideration. While there may be plenty of the same startup costs that are associated with opening a traditional restaurant, there are a few unique costs involved in opening a great food truck. Here are the expenses you can expect to run into before serving your first plate:

  • Food Truck($30,000 to $100,000)-Just like with any venture or project, you can go extravagant and have your dream truck, designed and built exactly how you envisioned it.You also have the option of buying a used truck and outfitting it to your standard. Often times though, the conversion processes can end up costing more than a brand new truck.

  • Pay to Park($1,500-$2,500 )-There are established food truck “hubs” with great locations that allow truck owners to park, serve the daily crowds and generate a great earning. The industry standard for payment is a parking fee, anywhere from $50 to $100, and ten percent of earnings.

  • Commissary($1,500-$2,500)-The law states that waste cannot be disposed of, nor food prepared in,  unregulated  areas, such as the truck owners homes. These commissary locations also provide parking for your truck.

  • Licensing and Permits ($10,000 to $15,000)-Costs include: Required licenses include a business license, food handler certification, health    certification, and fire certification. If you choose to own a mobile truck that travels through multiple counties  you may be subject to paying additional fees.

  • Accounting and Merchant Accounts($5,000-$15,000)

  • Marketing and Advertising($2,000 to $10,000)-The great thing about opening a mobile  food truck is that you have a billboard on wheels and your menu can be part of your building if you so choose. You could easily spend very little on marketing and invest in utilizing the power of social media for your new business on the move.

This leaves your initial investment for your brand new restaurant on wheels somewhere between $50,000 and $175,000.

Have Your Dream Business Built

Like I previously stated the food truck industry is booming. Do to the recent attention and the amount of interest nationwide it is important that you get a solid, reasonable quote from a reputable builder.Otherwise you could end up paying ridiculous prices for a standard truck. If you have any question about new trucks, used trucks, truck repair or you’re ready to get your dream on the road, contact us today!

Why A Tiny Home?

Tiny Home

With tiny homes being all the rage in the U.S. one can’t help but wonder, why? With options like the RV, the standard for mobile living, or the fifth wheel, why choose a mobile tiny home? Ultimately the decision is yours alone to make but here are a few reasons why our customers have chosen a miniature mobile house on wheels.

Tiny HOME!

  • It Looks Like Home Purchasers of tiny homes tend to be drawn to the feeling of living in a traditional style home. With options like a traditional roof you not only have protection from the elements but a nice homey feeling.
  • It’s Built Like Home - Not only can you take part in the interior of the home and the materials used but you can custom design your exterior to meet any taste. These houses are built to be lived in, comfortably, for an extended period of time. During the design process your builder will inquire about your specific needs and desires. Any great builder should be able to turn your dream into a reality!
  • It Feels Like Home - Aesthetics are everything! The floor plan and layout are designed with you in mind. If you think of the standard recreational vehicle as a mobile sardine can then a tiny home may be the choice for you. Most buyers express that deep connection with their “ideal home”.

Life Expectancy Of Investment 

  • Built To Last - Most tiny homes are built to last and almost all are built to the international building code. What does that mean to you? It means you are having a custom, condensed home built to your standard and made to withstand any weather conditions and all livable temperatures.
  • Better Materials - The houses have insulation that far exceeds that of any R.V. and the materials utilized in the building process are to ensure your home can stand up to the sun or snow. Often times a recreational vehicle will have to be covered up if left in the conditions for any extended period of time. Over exposure to the sun or heat could lead to roof damage within the first 15 years of ownership.
  • Expert Advice - Most experts say that purchasing an R.V. more than 10 years old is not a make sense investment. A tiny house can be a home for life!

Home or Roam?

The bottom line is if you are interested in frequent travel I will be the first to tell you that a tiny house is not the best choice for you. Despite mobile capability your small home was not made for constant motion. Where an R.V. owner might be traveling all across the U.S. in their vehicle, a tiny home owner would probably be traveling to their next temporary address. If you want to travel the world and see the sights and be comfortable on the way then a motor home bay be your choice. If you want a small investment on a small home, desire to maintain a normal life, work and enjoy a normal life then a new miniature home could be in your near future!

Thinking Of Opening A Food Truck?

Mama' Chow Kitcen

Here in Portland we have grown accustomed to the luxury that is the food truck. If you have ever enjoyed the experience of walking downtown and stopping to grab a bite at one of these restaurants on the curb, then you know as well as I that they are a treat indeed. There are dozens of local vendors all set up and ready to serve their specialty dishes, each with their own unique taste. This type of business provides many advantages for the new small business owner. One of those obviously being that they are not required to pay for the overhead of a standard brick-and-mortar restaurant. The low start-up cost has sparked a big interest with many. Here are some things to take into consideration when your looking at starting your business on wheels!

1. Check With The Man - Food trucks are a booming business here in Portland but believe it or not this was not something that just happened over night. Many towns and cities still have restrictions in place that limit the industry for their area. Check in on the permits required to open your tuck window. Like I previously stated a lot of cities are just now allowing trucks on their city streets. Make sure to check out the restrictions in your area before getting the ball rolling into a dead end!

 2.Check The Cost - Although food trucks are by far a cheaper way to go when opening you restaurant, there is still a hefty investment required in the truck itself. A new truck built to industry standard will run you thousands of dollars alone. While you could buy a used truck often times the investment ends up being right around the same amount. Often times the builder will offer financing options, that way you can get the perfect truck at an affordable cost

 3. Location, Location, Location- Buying and building your truck, while very important, are not the only considerations that should be at the top of your list. What good is the most beautiful, well designed truck, with the best food on the planet if nobody can find it? One of the biggest advantages of owning a food truck is that you can take the food to your customers. If you don’t know where your hungry target audience is and when you are a step behind. Finding a balance between finding a high traffic area that is legal for parking can lead to great success for your new business and set you apart from your competition. Be in the right place at the right time!

 3. Competition- In the dining world many traditional restaurants will not take kindly to your food truck taking their patrons. The cold hard fact is that when you choose to park your truck in the same area as another restaurant,which you probably will, you are now competition. The restaurants will not take kindly to you, be prepared for some (un)friendly competition. It’s par for the course.

4. The Right Way- Now that you have decided to start your business it is important that you do things the right way. Your truck is your place of business. It is vital that when getting your truck built you go to someone reputable. Check the market, get quotes, many companies offer quote forms on their websites to ensure that you get a great quote in a timely manner. Look into the companies that you are considering. There are many to consider make sure that you are dealing with an expert!

Remember this is your dream! After you make sure that all your ducks are in a row it is important to remember what sets your truck apart, YOU! Remember there are thousands of restaurants in your city. Take ownership of what makes your restaurant different and make the experience memorable and enjoyable for those who choose your truck.