The food truck industry has skyrocketed over the past years, with 40,547 trucks across the country as of 2022.
Food trucks are popular for their flexibility and convenience. To maximize their reach and sales, food truck owners look for areas where they can serve more customers better. However, at the end of the day, there are specific conditions food truck owners need to be aware of that may take more research and preparation, such as where to park the food truck.
Every city or area has different parking rules and recommendations when it comes to food truck parking. Just like any other brick-and-mortar business, it is important for food truck owners to strategically pick which parking spots offer both convenience and safety for the truck.
In this article, we share the best practices when it comes to parking your food truck overnight.
Can Food Trucks Park Anywhere?
Although regular parking regulations that apply to other vehicles such as not parking near fire bus stops, crosswalks, and fire hydrants apply to food truck parking, there are other specific parking regulations food truck drivers need to follow. They cannot just park their food trucks anywhere.
Food Truck Parking Restrictions and Permits
Every region or state has their own food truck parking regulations. To be sure you don’t miss anything, consult with your local authorities to know which spaces are allowed for food truck parking and which ones aren’t.
Where to Park Your Food Truck in Public Spaces
Parking your vehicle, especially one that you use for business such as a food truck, can be tricky because of different zone rules and other safety factors.
Here are some public places where you can potentially park your food truck:
Outside commercial office buildings
Many cities have parking rules that do not allow food trucks to park within 500 feet from brick-and-mortar restaurants, however, oftentimes, they are allowed to park outside commercial office buildings as long as the establishment allows them.
Near sports stadiums
Sports stadiums are wonderful spots to set up your food truck. There’s a load of people during the day, making it a great place to run business. At night, you can also try to park near the sports stadium as long as you have the necessary permit for it.
City parks/green spaces
If you are fine with parking without a roof covering or extra security, city parks can also be a good option for food truck parking. However, even though city parks are owned by the public, make sure you consult your local authorities to process any additional permits in case it is necessary.
Near college campuses
Many colleges invite food trucks to serve their students with a variety of food in between their classes, making campuses a prime location for food truck businesses. To get easy access to the college campus, it is also a good idea to look for parking near the area.
As with other public spaces, beaches and lakefronts are great places to market your food truck business. You can choose to park your food truck here as long as you process any necessary parking permits.
Where Can Food Trucks Park in Private Property & Events
Although this may take additional steps, food trucks can also park on private properties and events. It’s a convenient option if you’re looking for better advertising and safer conditions.
Here are some ways food trucks can partner with private properties and events for parking:
Food Truck Event Parking
Food trucks are popular for a reason and they’re even more popular during events. Check with your local area and take note of any upcoming events in your city and neighboring areas. Once you have targeted an event, partner with the event organizers as well as your local authorities for any necessary permits including parking.
Food Truck Brewery Parking
Breweries are perfect partners for many food trucks because food trucks normally do not sell beer and breweries usually don’t offer food. If you can partner with these breweries, you can enjoy a symbiotic relationship with them and even get access to free parking.
Food Truck College Campus Parking
Just like events, college campuses are swarming with [hungry] people. This is a prime location for food trucks looking for more customers to serve. Check with your local college campuses. Many colleges and universities allow food trucks in their premises and even offer permanent parking if they incorporate the food truck into their regular meal plans and services.
Food Truck Farmer’s Market Parking
Farmer’s markets are more than just places to exchange goods or to grocery shop. They are also wonderful places to socialize and meet the local community. Try offering food to the crowd at the farmer’s market. Most of these places offer parking to food trucks for free.
Food Truck Park Parking
Most cities have food truck parking spaces where different food trucks gather to sell food. Most of these food truck parks charge daily rates and monthly rental rates. These are perfect spots to park and sell because customers flock to access the diverse choices of food with all food trucks gathered in one place.
Food Truck Legal Residential Parking
This isn’t usually a typical parking spot for food trucks, but these days, many HOAs or apartment complexes invite food trucks over to serve and offer food to their residents.
Food Truck Gas Station Parking
Attract hungry drivers and travelers when you set up near or inside a gas station. Check out gas stations that do not offer a lot of food. These gas stations are likely to partner with you because your food attracts customers for them as well.
Food Truck Medical Campus Parking
Parking close to a medical campus is also a convenient way of attracting more customers. Since many employees and patients try to look for other food options other than their typical hospital food, parking your food truck nearby can be a win for both you and your customers.
Where Do Food Trucks Park at Night
Check with your city’s parking regulations for which areas are not allowed for food truck parking. Even if you own your property, large vehicles such as RVs and food trucks are not allowed to park in front of your home.
Here’s where you can send your food truck to park overnight:
Food Truck Commissary Parking
A food truck commissary is like a garage for food trucks. When it isn’t out for business, your food truck is at a commissary. Parking fees in food truck commissaries vary, but it largely depends on your area and their current real estate value. It typically runs between $250 to $270 a month, but it can go higher in places where parking is scarce.
Food Truck Outdoor Storage Facility Parking
Outdoor storage facility parking for food trucks is more affordable than indoor parking, but it can expose your food truck to vandalism or even bad weather. Many food truck outdoor storage facilities offer covered parking and security gates so if you are willing to pay additional fees for extra protection, this is something you can avail of.
Food Truck Unheated Indoor Storage Facility Parking
If you are particular about your food truck’s safety conditions, you can also choose to rent parking space in an indoor storage facility. It’s a lot safer than outdoor parking and if you are wary about additional parking costs, you can look for unheated indoor storage facilities.
Food Truck Heated Indoor Storage Facility Parking
If you live in a colder area that can go down to freezing temperatures, it is recommended that you park your food truck inside heated indoor storage facilities. The ability to control the temperature protects your truck from any potential damage.
Things to consider when storing your food truck long term
It’s one thing to leave your food truck in a parking space overnight, and it’s another to leave it for extended periods. Before leaving your food truck in storage long-term, here are some things you need to do:
1. Check what your truck insurance covers
Know what is included in your insurance and what is not. This prepares you for any issues when it’s time to claim for compensation in any event that you need it.
2. Remove all food
Don’t forget to take out all food from your food truck before storing it in a facility for a long time to prevent spoilage, smell, and damage.
3. Use a moisture-absorbent interior to prevent mold
Depending on your climate, moisture can form inside the truck if left in storage for a long time. Prevent mold from forming by using moisture-absorbent material on your food truck interior.
4. Disconnect your propane tanks
Propane tanks are safe enough when the area is ventilated, but if you are storing your food truck for a long period of time indoors, it is best to disconnect them to prevent leakage.
5. Remove all fuel and any valuables
Take safety measures and remove everything valuable and combustible.
6. Keep your food truck covered
If you are storing your food truck outdoors for a long period of time, cover it up to protect it from vandalism and bad weather.
7. Use sun protectors or shades to cover windows
Long-term exposure to the sun and heat can damage your car’s glass and interior. Invest in windshield sun protectors or window shades to prevent damage and peeling.
8. Disconnect the battery or use a Trickle Charger.
If you are leaving your food truck in storage for a long period of time, save your battery from damage by disconnecting it or using a trickle charger. Trickle chargers are battery chargers designed to connect to a car battery so it continues to recharge even when it is not turned on for a long time.
How to Secure a Great Parking Spot for Your Food Truck
There is no one perfect parking spot for all areas. It is best to go around your neighborhood, check prime locations, and consult with establishments and local authorities for any permits you may need.
How much does it cost to park a food truck?
Parking fees for food trucks vary depending on the place you want to set up. For premium locations such as private properties or heated indoor storage facilities, parking fees may cost a little bit more.
Am I allowed to park my food truck on my own property?
Unless you have a separate garage or land where you can park large or multiple vehicles, you are not allowed to park a food truck in front of your home. For more detailed information on your city’s parking restrictions, consult your local authorities.
Areas where parking your food truck at home is not allowed (as of May 2020)
In many cities, food trucks are usually required to park in a designated area. While you may think parking at home is a more convenient option, here are cities and jurisdictions that prohibit parking food trucks at home:
- New York, New York
- Los Angeles, California
- Columbus, Ohio
- Washington, DC
- Boston, Massachusetts
- The entire state of Florida
Preparing for a food truck business
There is a reason why food trucks are increasingly popular. The mobility is appealing not just to business owners who do not want to be tied to an expensive restaurant location that depends on foot traffic. It also appeals to customers who are down to try out different cuisines.
While parking may be a concern in the beginning, a guide such as this one will help you get started so you can focus on providing good food to your customers.
We share more about what you need to know about food trucks and running a food truck business. At Feed Wagons, we help business owners from any location get started in the booming food truck industry by providing everything they need to build their custom food truck.
Reach out to us at Feed Wagons to know more about how we can help you build your dream food truck.