Albany, with a population of 98,000+, is the capital of New York. They have their own flourishing food truck community there, and business is doing very well. If you’re thinking of being part of that community by setting up one of your own, now is a good time. Matt Ruth, owner of DC’s Pizza & Wings, is one of the successful food truck entrepreneurs in the city. Let us get tips from Matt on how to start a food truck business in Albany the right way.
FTE: What’s the story behind DC’s Pizza & Wings? How long has it been operating?
Chef Matt: I started at DC’s Pizza & Wings in 1989 when I graduated college while working for my uncle. Over the years, I worked on and off for him as I pursued my career. In 2007, my uncle wanted to retire due to his health so I took over by changing the name to DC’s Pizza & Catering to reflect my goal of expanding the menu & sales.
FTE: How did you learn how to start a food truck in your area?
Chef Matt: Many customers wanted DC’s to expand as we have customers that travel quite a ways. I didn’t feel that was a good course. I had eating at food trucks and say the expansion in big cities. So this was the course I would take. I approached current operators, fair or event operators, the health department and any other regulator that oversees our industry.
FTE: What was your approach to complying with city regulations and other requirements?
Chef Matt: All I can say is work closely with the health department. They are the end all in our area. Food trucks are as new to them as it is to us so we get lumped in with food trailers etc.
FTE: Sometimes, finding a suitable parking space can be a problem. How is it in Albany, New York?
Chef Matt: In Albany, the spots that have parking issues are the most coveted such as the ones in front of the government offices downtown which are operated by the city. For the most part, that’s the only area with an issue. Other than that, space is made available for trucks & events.
FTE: What are some of the unique challenges of operating a food truck in your city?
Chef Matt: The hardest part about starting is finding locations & events. Then, after that, figuring out how much material you need because it is not like operating a store front. They are two different but related things. The biggest decision I feel is whether you want to do a quick serve for lunch/dinner or something more detailed because that will determine where you want your truck.
FTE: Finally, what is your best advice for our readers?
Chef Matt: Think outside the four walls of your restaurant! Think of what sets your truck apart.
We appreciate your contribution Matt. Good luck to you.
Here are some more reading materials which you will find useful.
New Mobile Food Vendor License Checklist – This is your starting point.
Department of Health – Here you will find complete information on the regulations and permit requirements of the Department of Health.
Department of Health (Albany) – Application for a permit to operate a temporary food service establishment.
Business, Vendor & Event Forms – Here you will find information and rules on Albany’s Mobile Food Vendor Pilot Program.
DC’s Pizza & Wings – The official website of DC’s Pizza & Wings. Check it out.