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How to Start a

Street Food Business


The street food revolution kicked off in the late noughties. It's massive now. Find out how to make your mark on Britain's most exciting food scene.

What's this street food business all about then?

Remember what things were like when the recession started? Eating out was harder to do and people needed cheaper ‘foodie’ alternatives. Thankfully there were some genius food-loving entrepreneurs who stepped in and provided a solution.


They created a new eating experience for British people. One that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and which meant that burger vans had a new rival. Street food was borne to give eaters quality, affordable and different fast food. And now it's a multi-million pound industry. You should be part of it.


10 reasons you should start a street food business...

1. You don’t need loads of money.

The low start-up costs of street food are pretty attractive right? A market stall or gazebo set up (including new equipment) can be put together for about £5000. It’s low cost and low risk.


2. You’re COOKING – all the time!

This is your chance to show the world what you can do. Whether it’s kimchi, barbecue or Korean that you love, starting a street food business is probably right up your street.


3. You can say goodbye to the office.

Feel like your current job isn’t enough? Want to be outside, watching customers delight in your dishes? Street food allows you to choose when and where you work.


4. You’ll become part of a family.

The street food family is amazing. Even though you’re really competitors, people look out for each other. Whether you’ve forgotten some kit or lost your tongs, your fellow traders will help you out.





5. You’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling in your belly.

As a trader, you’ll constantly be meeting your customers and getting feedback about your food. What other job will allow you to gauge how good your product is in just one mouthful?


6. You’ll be part of a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Street food has already established itself in most of the UK’s biggest cities and the revolution is still growing. Some of the UK’s most popular eating hang-outs are street food markets these days.


7. The rents are reasonably low.

Rents for pitches at street food markets tend to be £30-£100 plus a percentage of takings per day. You shouldn’t break the bank with this approach as this sort of low investment rent is low risk.


8. You’ll get the opportunity for private work.

A combination of street food events and social media means that customers can find the perfect food for their private do these days. Established traders do several gigs a year.


9. You don't get stuck.

Whether it’s tweaking a menu or changing where you work, changing things up is always doable. And it street food isn’t for you? You can simply recoup most of your small investment by selling up.


10. You can get plenty of help from the experts.

NCASS has been overseeing and aiding the street food trade since the start. We'll give you pretty much everything you need to start up your street food business for a comparatively miniscule fee.


The Bowler - seasoned street food caterers

And 8 'reality checks' of starting up a street food business...

1. It’s probably not as easy as you think.

Running a street food business is physically challenging. Sometimes you’ll find yourself setting the alarm for 4am and getting to bed at midnight after a day’s cooking and lugging equipment around.


2. You’re not going to become a millionaire overnight.

You can earn good money from street food but it’s going to take time to develop your product, build up your customer base and get regular, profitable work. It’s a long game!


3. You will spend some time cursing the British weather.

Sadly there’ll be times when what should be a perfect pitch is an absolutely let down because of the rain. This is Britain – there’s no getting around it.


4. The competition is growing.

The amount of pitches available hasn’t caught up with the growing demand just yet. Established street food markets are your best bet for regular trade but their waiting lists are pretty long.





5. It’s not like Chef; you can’t pull up and trade anywhere.

‘Street’ food is a bit of a misnomer really; you can’t actually just pull up and trade on any street. Pitches are pretty limited and street trading rules differ between local authority boundaries.


6. You’re going to have to increase your skillset.

You’ll be doing everything yourself: cooking, marketing, stock control, HR, social media, bookkeeping and so on. Get ready to learn new skills (and neglect any area of the business only at your peril!).


7. When you’re starting your profits are going to be low.

You won’t be able to turn over huge amounts of covers, what with limited space for stock, short trading times and probably just a couple of pairs of hands limiting your opportunity for big profits.


8. One irresponsible trader could give the industry a bad name.

Among other things, a lack of HACCP understanding, unsafe gas installations and poor hygiene training could be the death of this industry. If consumers go off street food, you could be done for.


The easiest way to prepare for your street food start-up...

starting a street food business - the course

This training course has been created by street food experts from across Europe to help you start up your own street food business. It's pretty exhaustive, so you'll learn everything from legal requirements to financing the business, equipment, logistics, marketing and even what to do during wet spells.

You’ll get insider hints and tips from the UK’s only Primary Authority trade association for street food traders. We’ll help you prepare for your first day, think of ways to increase sales when they’re lagging, and tell you what to expect from a hygiene inspection. 

This is the UK’s only street food training course where you can watch interviews with successful street food traders and download helpful resources to use after the course is done. You’ll get info docs to keep and refer to whenever you need them, covering everything from DIY van converting to your own interactive break even calculator.



Need-to-know info before buying any mobile catering equipment...

Buy cheap or second hand mobile catering equipment and risk buying twice. Low prices are often too good to be true: the equipment might not be legally acceptable and is more than likely to be past its useful life if second hand. In this business your equipment is the most important thing you own, so be prepared to pay more for the right piece. And no, camping equipment is NEVER acceptable.


You should never take risks with equipment. Make sure all gas equipment is CE marked and has a flame failure device. If it doesn't have the CE label, don't buy it - no matter what the seller is telling you. You won't be able to get a gas safety certificate for it, and event organisers won't let you trade without that certificate. Plus you'd be trading illegally if you were using LPG without a gas safety certificate.





NCASS has listed all of our favourite and approved catering equipment over at www.NCASSequipment.co.uk. Everything you find there is legally compliant and highly efficient. And the best bit? Loads of the equipment listed is actually cheaper from NCASS than from the manufacturers.


If you'd like an extra helping hand choosing the right equipment for your catering set-up, we have an inhouse team ready to help any NCASS member make the right equipment choices. Just give our catering equipment expert Penny a call on 0121 603 2524, quote your membership number and she'll give you all the advice you need.


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