The food truck industry is booming, and now is a good time as any to put up one of your own. Now you might think you have it all figured out. That may be so, but don’t you think it would be better to get advice first from experienced entrepreneurs who have been through it all? Well, Chef Kastle of Kastle’s Kreations was more than willing to share her 5-year experience operating a successful food truck in Alaska. This is valuable advice from a really cool chef.
Check it out!
FTE: Tell me a bit about yourself, your business and how long you’ve been operating in your city.
Chef Kastle: My name is Kastle Sorensen. I’m 29, and I own Kastle’s Kreations, a mobile cupcake shop in Alaska. We travel around between Anchorage, Eagle River, Palmer & Wasilla. We have been in business for 5 yrs now!
I started out going to school to become a high school Spanish teacher, finished my Master’s Degree at 21 and was ready to take on the world! No jobs were available, and I had been substitute teaching for almost 3 yrs. I happened to catch some episodes of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and thought, I like to bake! Maybe I could start a cupcake business! No one in Alaska was doing cupcakes, so i started taking orders, doing the summer markets and before I knew it 6 months later, I was looking into having a food truck built for my business!
FTE: Where did you get information about how to set up a food truck business in your area?
Chef Kastle: I did a lot of research in the beginning on running a business in general. I had to take different food handling classes/tests in order to run a cupcake business. I also had to look into all kinds of permitting. I did most of my research online. It was a lot of work, and I just took one step at a time! I’ve had to overcome a lot with running a food truck here in Alaska. I was one of the first mobile food truck owners, so there wasn’t much info available at the time.
FTE: Where should entrepreneurs go to find information about the local health code and other regulations?
Chef Kastle: I looked online, and talked with the local health department to find out all the rules for running a food truck business and the different codes to follow.
FTE: In other areas, available parking space has been a constant problem among food truck operators. How is it in Alaska?
Chef Kastle: Finding spots to park is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to deal with. We can only park on private property, but people who own property don’t want to allow us to park there. I’ve been given permission to park somewhere and then someone higher up says no. Food trucks here get a lot of grief over parking, and other businesses make it so we aren’t allowed to park in certain locations. Finally, I have found a few business owners who allow me to park in their lots for free (because I bring a lot of business) or for a small fee. Also, we get asked to be a part of different events as well and get parking spots that way as well.
FTE: What are some of the unique challenges of operating a food truck in your city?
Chef Kastle: I run my business all year round which is hard with our extreme cold weather. I used to do all my baking in the truck but after about a year, I outgrew that and it was just too difficult with the cold. I had pipes freeze, water heaters break and so much more! If we get too much snow, I won’t drive far. People don’t want to leave home either in bad weather, so I will close down that day or stay close to home with the truck that day.
FTE: Finally, if you could give only one piece of advice for new food truck entrepreneurs, what would that nugget of advice be?
Chef Kastle: The best advice I could give is don’t go cheap on the truck that you will buy and convert into a food truck. I know building a truck is expensive, and you want to be cost-effective. I bought mine for $3,500. I’ve put about $15,000 on repairs in it! It’s not worth it! For that amount, I should’ve just bought a newer, nicer truck! You live and learn! Plus, I was trying to stay on a budget with an amount I was being loaned that’s why I bought a cheaper truck but I should’ve just been loaned more money.
You rock Chef Kastle! Thanks a lot.
Additional Reading Material
Convinced now? Well, here are a couple of links to help you get started.
Mobile Food Units – Here you’ll find valuable information about putting up a food truck, cart or kiosk business in Alaska. This is very useful information straight from the local government’s website.
Food Truck Training & Certification – Information on food safety state requirements and contacts.
Starting Your Alaska Food Business Successfully – Here’s another valuable resource. It’s actually a PowerPoint file. Please don’t skip this one.
Kastle’s Kreations – Don’t forget to drop by Kastle’s website to say hello and place an order too.