These aren’t your parents’ food trucks. What were once nicknamed “roach coaches” have transformed into foodie favorites, and in May 2018, the governor signed a bill paving the way for food trucks to operate more easily in Arizona. So what should you know if you want to open a truck of your own?
Previously, one of the biggest concerns for truck owners was the difference in licensing from city to city. Because of the business’ mobile nature, owners had to be licensed to operate in multiple locations, racking up quite a bill in fees. The new law eliminates that problem, requiring operators to have just one state license. But, crucially, while the license to operate is now uniform, other permits are not. Some cities have different health codes, and parking and zoning restrictions.
Moreover, the truck itself must meet state or county codes regarding how it’s constructed in the first place. Considerations include ventilation, waste disposal, and fuel. Maricopa County, for instance, has requirements for where mechanical equipment is in relation to food preparation equipment; the size of water tanks and sinks; how far the food preparation area is from the driving area; etc.
Tax rates vary too, creating one of the biggest hassles for truck owners. Understanding a brick-and-mortar business’s sales tax is simple — it’s based on where you do business. But food trucks can do business in several cities, especially in a crowded metropolitan area like the Valley. It’s therefore necessary to know what to charge in each location.
And while food trucks feel nontraditional, setting up the business follows a similar procedure as a traditional restaurant. You can choose between several business models, such as a sole proprietorship, which offers ease but little legal protection, or an LLC, which may require more work to set up but, as the name suggests, limits your liability.
Make no mistake, food trucks do pose more liabilities than a regular restaurant, combining common food-related risks with automobile liabilities. Traffic accidents, personal injury cases for work-related injuries or illness, and slips and falls are all common risks in the industry. Not only should you invest in the necessary insurance, but you should also consult a lawyer to know how to protect yourself and your employees from lawsuits.
While setting up and maintaining a food truck is hard work, don’t let the paperwork scare you. If you do your due diligence, your path to food truck ownership will be smoother. And our business attorneys at Bellah Perez, PLLC, will be by your side — and excited to try your food once the truck’s up and running!
Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.