Food trucks are storming the country. Serving everything from waffles to grilled cheese sandwiches and representing worldwide cuisine, food trucks seem to have it all except alcohol.
Could it be that many food truck owners shy away from alcohol due to the liability risks and the difficulty of getting a liquor license?
So, the question is, can you sell alcohol on a food truck and is it worth the hassle?
We say "Yes! But with a few caveats." And while there are many limitations to obtaining a liquor license for a food truck, it can be a worthwhile adventure that leads to many opportunities.
Benefits of Selling Alcohol on a Food Truck
Adding alcohol to your food truck service may sound daunting, but if the following benefits sound awesome, it may be something 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 are separating 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 only 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.
Liquor Licenses for Food Trucks
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 very difficult. It is important to look into these as you decide if your food truck will sell alcohol or not.
While there can be many limitations in getting a liquor license, it is important to evaluate what the license actually limits and how you can still be profitable while selling alcohol from a food truck. The average cost for some liquor licenses can be upwards of $12,000. If you are at multiple locations each week, that can really add up.
To find out specifics about liquor licensing near you, visit your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control site to contact a local agent.
Overcoming the Risks of Being a Mobile Beverage Vendor
While there are many risks of 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 up on 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.
Food Liability Insurance Program