Food trucks are storming the country. Serving everything from waffles to grilled cheese sandwiches and representing worldwide cuisine, food trucks provide delicious eats and treats.
Food trucks seem to have it all… except for easy access when it comes to serving alcoholic beverages.
That leads to the question, can food trucks sell alcohol, and is it worth the hassle?
We say “Yes!” – While there are a few limitations to obtaining a liquor license for a food truck, it can be a worthwhile adventure that leads to many opportunities.
HOW TO SELL ALCOHOL FROM YOUR FOOD TRUCK
Liquor laws and regulations vary greatly from state to state, even from city to city. This can make obtaining a liquor license for a food truck difficult but also rewarding as you get to expand your business and cater to a larger demographic of customers. It is important to look into these regulations as you decide if your food truck will sell alcohol or not.
Some states allow trucks to sell alcohol from certain locations and may limit the type of alcohol to cocktails, beer, wine, or more. It’s important to note that wine and beer alcohol requirements can differ from liquor and spirits requirements. Since requirements differ from state to state, some states may even have umbrella licenses that cover all alcohol types.
When getting ready to sell alcohol from your food truck, make sure to budget for the expense of obtaining a liquor license. You can obtain a liquor license that covers events, annually or short term. These licenses can often cost up to $6,000. If you are at multiple locations, you will need a license that provides coverage at each location.
To find out specifics about liquor licensing near you, visit your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control site to contact a local agent. Or visit the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to find state-specific liquor licenses. It is important to note that liquor licenses can take up to several months to obtain.
HOW TO GET A LIQUOR LICENSE
Obtaining a liquor license can take time and patience, but it can be done. Here are five steps to obtain your food truck liquor license.
- Figure out what type of liquor license you need. The rules and regulations for food trucks that serve beer and wine over food trucks that serve harder spirits and mixed drinks are less strict and can be easier to obtain. It is important to note that if you plan on selling your liquor on-site at the event, you will need an on-site license. However, if you plan on selling a 6-pack or multi-pack of liquor to be enjoyed later, you will need an off-site liquor license.
- Contact your state liquor licensing authority. They will be able to give you up-to-date specifics about obtaining a food truck liquor license.
- Complete your liquor license application. This may take some time and it may be a good idea to review it with legal counsel to ensure you understand everything required of your business.
- Complete a business plan that demonstrates how your business will operate with the liquor license and what type of revenue scale you expect to achieve.
- Supply the funds. A food truck liquor license can cost upwards of $10,000 so make sure to budget for that.
BENEFITS OF SELLING ALCOHOL ON A FOOD TRUCK
Adding alcohol to your food truck service may sound daunting, but there are several great benefits to consider.
- Travel & Fun
- Build a National Brand
- Franchise & Expansion Opportunities
- Additional Revenue
Travel & Fun
All across the country, food trucks and mobile bars are traveling to different festivals and events to share their products. This means that you get to travel to new places while doing a job that you love.
Build a National Brand
Beyond that, you can build a national brand with your food truck. Mobile bars across the country are making a name for themselves. By selling alcohol from your food truck or creating a mobile bar, you separate yourself from the competition.
Franchise & Expansion Opportunities
Different cities and states have different rules and permits necessary to sell alcohol. Evaluating your costs and potential profits from an event or specific location can help you make the most out of your business. Once you have established yourself in a specific area, it may be wise to expand your fleet by managing more trucks or franchising and purchasing the needed licenses for those areas you plan to operate rather than getting multiple liquor licenses for a single truck.
Increased Revenue Potential
Liquor margins are often higher than food product margins, which means you could increase your revenue quickly. However, many liquor licenses are tied to locations and each liquor license can be quite pricey. So you will have to evaluate your estimated ROI to determine whether selling liquor will be profitable in that location. Read FLIP’s article Should Food and Beverage Vendors Serve Alcohol? Risks and Benefits of Liquor Service to learn more.
OVERCOMING THE RISKS OF SELLING ALCOHOL FROM YOUR FOOD TRUCK
While there are many risks in selling alcohol from a food truck, there are also many ways to mitigate those risks. One way is to reduce your liability in case of an unexpected incident. Through FLIP’s program, you can purchase both food truck liability and liquor liability insurance. If someone has an accident while at your truck or they drive after your alcohol service, you may be protected from financial devastation with insurance.
By choosing the right events and locations to get a liquor license for, you can also lower some of the risks pertaining to the costs of permits and licenses. For example, festivals might be the perfect sweet spot for you. By attending a festival that lasts for several days, you are lowering the cost of multiple location licenses and you are optimizing your marketing outreach. However, these festivals can take days to prepare for and will only work if you are not busy prior to them.
While serving alcohol from a food truck is still a little bit uncharted, we believe that it can be a huge benefit to your food truck. First, you can increase your potential revenue by offering an additional product and by having an edge over your competition. You will also have the opportunity to build a national brand and from there you will create franchise options. And beyond all this, you will be able to travel and have a job that is fun and profitable! Just remember to protect yourself by getting the correct permits/licenses and by getting liquor liability insurance.
Learn more about specifics regarding FLIP’s food truck liability insurance and liquor liability insurance today and contact us if you have any questions.