Food Trucks vs. Food Trailers: Quality and Downside

by Josephine DC 11 months ago in how to

Food truck vs. food trailer, what is right for you? Here, I will share with you my insights. Read it to land the best mobile kitchen for your food business.

Food Trucks vs. Food Trailers: Quality and Downside

So you’ve got an excellent recipe you want to share with the world and make a business out of it?

For an entry-level food entrepreneur, a restaurant with all of its expenses might be unaffordable for now. It leaves you with a more affordable option, a mobile diner.

Comparing Food Trucks and Food Trailers

But what next? Food truck vs. food trailer, which one should you choose? Which is more suitable for your current financial situation?

Let’s find out down below.

Food Trucks and Food Trailers Comparing Chart


  • Compact size.
  • More suitable for narrow city streets.
  • Have a more professional look.
  • More space in the kitchen area.
  • Come at a lower price if you have a vehicle to tow it.
  • Allow continuous operation even if the car is in the shop.


  • If the truck has mechanical issues, you will be out of business.
  • Do not have as much space as a food trailer does.
  • Size options are limited
  • More paperwork needed.
  • Do not have a professional look.
  • Drivers may have difficulty maneuvering it to small spaces.

Above is just a brief comparison. Keep reading to find out more.

Food Trucks

A food truck is basically a light-duty, sometimes medium-duty, multi-stop truck with a built-in kitchen in the space behind the driver seat.

Their kitchen’s sizes range from 10’ to 26’. The most popular is 16’ or 18’.

A food truck is designed for city’s streets. Since the van and kitchen are in one unit, which significantly reduces the size of the van, you will have better control over the vehicle at narrow streets or turns.

As the name multi-stop truck implies, this vehicle is ideal for stop-and-go service, a huge advantage for small food vendors.

One downside of a food truck is they usually come at a higher price than a food trailer. The initial investment for a food truck can vary between $30,000 and $100,000, a large sum for many of you.

However, to operate a trailer, you need a vehicle powerful enough to tow it. If you don’t, sometimes the added money for a new car and a trailer can cost you a whole new food truck.

This much investment is still lower than that of a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a fixed location. The last time I checked, you may need around $494,888 for such business.

Another drawback is apparent when the truck needs to be fixed. As the kitchen and the van are one, if the truck is with the mechanic, the kitchen is too.

With a food trailer, if your vehicle is in the shop, you can always rent or borrow another one to prevent your business from being interrupted.

The regulations and licenses for food trucks are also more complicated than those of food trailers or food carts.

However, on the plus side, once you’ve had all the paperwork done properly, a food truck owner can have access to a larger number of potential spots.

One more note: running a mobile food business is not all about how good the food is. You should spend a considerable amount of your time on making sure all the appliances in your small restaurant always ready when you need them.

To achieve this, good quality devices only are not enough. They need to be plugged in a stable power source for the best performance, which boils down to choosing a food truck generator.

A power failure can lead to massive loss and I know you don’t want that to happen to your business.

Food Trailers

Food trailers come with a minimum of accessories, so they are generally cheaper than a food truck. If you are a budget-conscious vendor, a food trailer will allow a quick entry to the food business without spending too much.

With food trucks, since the van and kitchen are one, the cooking and serving space is limited to strike a balance between the two. While with food trailers, you have a more extensive array of choices regarding sizes.

A common food trailer comes at an 8.5’ width whereas that of a food truck is only 7’. This larger size comes with a great advantage.

More space means a more comfortable working area for the cook. In fact, a food trailer can house a fully functional kitchen while many food trucks cannot.

The generally big size of a food trailer allows it to serve more diners, more food options, thus more profit potential.

Moreover, food truck generator is also built-in, which will take up some space in the kitchen. A food trailer generator is on the tongue, meaning even more room for cooking utensils and the cook.

Food truck’s drawback is a food trailer’s benefit. Since it is not a motorized vehicle, the licensing requirements are not as strict as those of food trucks.

However, the size of most food trailers confined them to large streets only, making them ideal for stopping at a certain spot, events, and festivals for example.

The Bottom Line

Here is my conclusion for those who still struggle between a food truck and a food trailer:

  • A food truck costs more than a food trailer, but the latter requires a capable vehicle to tow it. Do you have the vehicle in question in your garage? Great! You can save a lot with a food trailer.
  • A food truck is more suitable for covering routes and stopping multiple times. You don’t intend to park somewhere for a long time? A food truck is what you want.
  • A food trailer is ideal for situations that allow it to stay still for a long period of time. You want to drive your mobile business to festivals and events? A food trailer is the most suitable option.
  • A food truck is generally smaller and more suitable for navigating through urban streets. You intend to operate in cities mostly? A food truck fits the bill nicely.
  • Food trailers come in a larger size so if you need a more spacious cooking area, they can meet that need of yours.

Picking out a vehicle as your mobile kitchen is the first essential step in running your own food business. With my review above, I hope you will have a clearer idea of which option to choose. Remember, what you want is the most suitable one for you, not the cheapest or the most advanced model out there.

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Josephine DC
Josephine DC
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