The thing about starting a food truck business is that it’s always a little bit different depending on where you located. The parking rules may be different. The requirements for your mobile kitchen will be unique and the local competition will vary greatly as well. In today’s post, we explore what it’s like to start and operate a mobile food business in Harrisburg, PA, from someone that understands the process first hand: Rodrigo Madrigal Jr. of MAD Sandwiches Food Truck.
If you live in Harrisburg, you’ve likely heard of MAD Sandwiches before. The truck can be spotted in front of the Keystone Building on Tuesdays for lunch and behind the Labor and Industry Building on Fridays. Watch the video below to see Rodrigo’s interview with a local tv affiliate and read his advice on starting a food truck in the city below.
FTE: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Rodrigo: My name is Rodrigo Madrigal Jr. I was a professional horse Jockey for 22 years. I retired two years ago and opened up MAD Sandwiches Food Truck.
FTE: How did you go about learning how to start a food truck?
Rodrigo: I did a lot of research about what the rules and the guidelines were in the city.
FTE: What are some of the unique opportunities building this type of business in Harrisburg, PA?
Rodrigo: There are only a few trucks in the area. The couple locations where we park downtown have limited food establishment.
FTE: What are some of the difficult aspects of operating a food truck in your area?
Rodrigo: There are still people with the misconception that food trucks are dirty roach coaches. Usually once they look inside the truck it changes there mind and they try it out.
FTE: How should you approach regulations here?
Rodrigo: Which ever city you are looking into running a truck contact the city they will be able to direct you to the proper way of getting your business started in their city.
FTE: Parking can always be a challenge for food truckers. What’s the situation like in Harrisburg?
Rodrigo: You have to have permission from the property owner where you are parking. Most of the city is metered parking so you also have to pay to get your metered bagged.
FTE: Any parting tips for beginning food truck owners?
Rodrigo: Learn where you fit in and where you don’t. Find a heavy populated area and always keep everything clean. Customers are always watching.
Resources for Getting Started in Harrisburg
Food Truck Case Study – Listen to our series of interviews with a real-life food trucker that has built his peanut-butter and jelly food truck over the past 12 months.
HBG Food Truck Feast – This is a monthly feast held in Harrisburg where food trucks are the primary attraction. There are also local bands and other entertainment that is involved in the event. This is the ideal place to get to know local vendors in your area and begin to establish connections.
FoodStruck – This organization helps plan and promote major food truck events in Harrisburg and the surrounding area. Another good group to get familiar with if you plan on starting your own business.
City of Harrisburg – For help navigating local laws and mobile food regulations contact the City of Harrisburg. They’ll be able to provide you with in-depth details of what you need to get started from a local regulation perspective.