Starting A Street Food Business: Your Essential Guide

Delicious, diverse and affordable, street food has become incredibly popular in recent years. In fact, the value of the UK street food market is now estimated to be an impressive £1.2 billion.

Street food is more than just burgers and hot dogs. It showcases a wide range of global cuisines, from ever-popular Mexican food to more adventurous options like Modern Korean dishes. British street food is also popular, bringing a modern twist to beloved classics with inventive options like Yorkshire Pudding wraps.

So, if you’re wondering how to start a street food business, this guide is for you. It’s full of information like how to choose the type of street food business you’ll run and how to find your target audience.

We’ll also explain the critical legal and financial aspects to consider and how Caredemy online food hygiene training for street food businesses can simplify staff training.

Pros and Cons of a Street Food Business

When you’re considering a new business selling street food, it’s essential to weigh up the pros and cons. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of a street food business.


  • Low initial investment compared to a traditional restaurant business.
  • Wide variety of different cuisines to choose from.
  • Significant potential for profit, depending on costs
  • Option to branch out into private event catering.


  • Hours can be long and the work is physically demanding.
  • Sales and profits may be low in the short run.
  • Sales can be affected by poor weather.
  • Competition includes restaurants and cafes as well as other vendors.

Determine Your Target Audience

Once you’ve decided what type of street food you’ll serve, it’s essential to identify your target audience.

You could target office workers and shoppers in a busy city centre or cater for the late-night crowd in an area with plenty of bars and clubs.

Alternatively, you might prefer selling street food at organised events like food festivals, music festivals and sporting events. Or you could provide a service catering for private events like weddings.

The market segment you target will shape many of your decisions, including your business identity, branding, price points and location.

It will also influence the street food setup that you opt for. Some of the popular options for street food businesses include:

  • A food van.
  • A food trailer.
  • A market stall (permanent or pop-up).
  • A bicycle with a cart attachment.

Key Financial Aspects for Street Food Businesses

Smart financial planning is essential for any new business, and you’ll need to include several key costs when setting up a street food business.

  • Equipment Costs: Varies based on the type of street food business you’re running.
  • Licence and Registration Fees: Many registrations are free, but some licences might have associated costs.
  • Pitch Fees: Costs will vary based on the location and event type.
  • Stock and Ingredients: Aim to keep ingredient costs between 30%-40% of your selling price.
  • Marketing Costs: You should aim to spend no more than 10% of your turnover on marketing at first.

Key Equipment Checklist

Although a street food business needs less initial investment than a traditional restaurant, you’ll still need to ensure you have all the necessary equipment.

Your main expenditure will be your vehicle or stall, and you could look at second-hand options or leasing a vehicle to keep your costs down.

As well as your ingredients, other items you need to include in your street food business plan will include:

  • Cooking equipment: This might be an oven, hot plate or BBQ grill.
  • Food Prep Tools: Think knives, chopping boards, pots and pans.
  • Food Warmer: This will keep pre-cooked items at a safe temperature for longer.
  • Branding and Display Boards: Eye-catching branding will help you attract more customers.
  • Serving Essentials: You’ll need takeaway containers, napkins, cutlery, etc.
  • Cleaning Equipment: These are essential for compliance with food safety and hygiene standards.

Consider the legalities

Any business serving food to the public must comply with various legal requirements to ensure their food is safe.

Remember to take care of these legalities before you start trading:

  • Food Business registration
  • Street or Market Stall licence
  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Alcohol licences (if you intend to serve alcoholic beverages)
  • Allergen information (mandatory for packaged foods)

You’ll also need to prioritise safety protocols in your business, including

  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) to manage potential food safety risks.
  • Routine risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential risks.
  • Safe food storage to ensure ingredients and cooked foods are stored at the correct temperatures.
  • Regular cleaning routines to prevent cross-contamination and bacterial growth.

Essential Training for Street Food Businesses

Before you serve your first customer, it’s essential to ensure you and any staff you hire have undergone relevant training. It can be tricky to fit training around everything else on your to-do list, but Caredemy online food hygiene training courses simplify the task.

You can study your courses online or download the high-quality course materials and study offline if that suits you better. You and any other staff members will also receive a Personal Learner Dashboard that helps you keep track of your progress and makes it easy to maintain accurate staff training records.

Courses that may benefit you and your team include:

Once you’ve successfully completed your course and the online assessment, you can mark your achievement by downloading a nationally recognised certificate.

Running a street food business is an exciting journey combining culinary passion with the excitement of entrepreneurship. Maintaining your focus on high standards of quality and service, along with meeting the necessary regulatory requirements, will give your street food business the best chance of success.

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