starting a food truck in nashville

Food Trucks in Nashville: How to Get a Slice of the Action

author-thumbnail Grover Collins

BY Grover Collins

Founder & Managing Member

Forming a Food Truck Business in Nashville

Calling All Entrepreneurs!

With summer fast approaching, thousands of food truck vendors across the country are gearing up for their busiest of seasons. Our office is located in downtown Nashville, where more than 60 food trucks park outside to serve BBQ platters to Gyros. In fact, Nashville was ranked #10 by the Food Truck Nation Report, finishing ahead of larger metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

We wanted to find out why food trucks love Nashville so much.

The Benefits of Food Trucks

Mobile food vending has been part of American society for decades – hot dog carts in New York City, taco trucks in Austin, and corner coffee carts in major cities. An estimation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce puts food trucks at roughly a $2 billion-dollar industry. The Chamber’s recent report, Food Truck Nation, highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of the food truck industry. It also points out that growth within the industry often benefits minority-owned small businesses. Roughly 80% of local food truck owners in Chicago were minority-owned businesses in 2017.

Government Regulation of the Industry

Data shows business has boomed for food trucks; however, so too has government regulation and the permitting process. Most food trucks are required to comply with about 45 separate government procedures. This process is not cheap… costing upwards of $25,000 on permits, licenses, and legal compliance. These high costs and time-consuming requirements are a huge barrier to entry for wishful food truck owners.

One reason for this high cost is that most food trucks must have many of the same permits and licenses required of traditional restaurants. This includes a business license, food safety standards, and labor law compliance. However, food trucks are required to also obtain additional permits which are not required by brick and mortar restaurants.

Despite the potential revenue for cities and municipalities, many have prohibited food truck sales outside of specifically zoned areas and often prohibit trucks from operating within so many feet of brick and mortar locations. I don’t know about you, but I’d walk a few extra blocks for the perfect slice of pizza. 

The Future of Food Trucks

Some fear this regulation will put the industry on ice. IBISWorld recently estimated food truck growth at ONLY 0.4% between 2018 and 2020. In fact some American cities already experiencing zero growth.

Considering the cost, local food trucks are appreciative of the general acceptance of food trucks in Tennessee. The State gets business revenue and you get your fresh pretzel with cheese. What’s not to like?


Food Trucks in Nashville

How to Get a Slice of the Action… or just a great slice of pizza.

Click here for a list of our favorite Nashville food trucks.

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