in 2010 my partner and I decided to venture into the world of food service. At a time when food carts and truck were gaining national popularity, and given the fact that startup costs of a mobile food business were considerably less than a brick and mortar restaurant, it seemed like a smart thing to do to jump into a food cart.
So we found a used hot dog cart and bought it. It was a lovely hunk of stainless steel, but needed some upgrades and customizations to bring up to current health codes and make it work for our culinary needs. Below is a picture of the cart before:
Here is a closer pic of the sinks that were added to the back end of the cart, along with an upgraded propane hose and tank bracket:
And a pic of the new grill we installed, which sits deep in the hot well but comes out easily for cleaning.
This cart has now been in use for more than a year, and has passed numerous inspections, including Columbus Public Health, Fire Dept, and Public Safety.
PROJECT #2: Building From Scratch
After the success of our first cart, we thought we'd take a stab at building a cart from scratch. We gained a lot of knowledge of carts in the first project, and gained valuable experience from a user/operator perspective as well.
The Cart: Short North Bagel Deli, Steamed Bagel Sandwiches
Specifics: Full service cart, including a prep top refrigerator, food steamer, and griddle.
To provide enough power for all that equipment, a generator needed to be involved in the plans. This proved to be an interesting challenge since the regulations on pushcarts don't have any information on generators. Pushcarts are typically propane powered, with an occasional small battery for powering a water pump. After weeks of phone calls, emails, and letters to the Fire Dept and Public Safety offices, The plans were approved, with specifications: a generator would have to propane powered, and would have to be installed in the roof of the cart. Wow!
To start, we built the outer frame of the cart. The dimension are 6 ft 5 in long, 4 ft wide:
One tank for the generator, one tank for the grill:
Next comes the sinks and plumbing:
A closer look at the panels. They slide open on either side so you can get into the lower storage areas. The oak trimming can be easily removed to take the panels off completely:
This cart has been in operation since July 2011. You can see the current pushcart license sticker issued by the City of Columbus in the upper right corner of the panel.
PROJECT #3: Building a Food Truck