The concept of a food truck or food van is something that has been around for over a decade, and these vehicles have successfully taken root and gained popularity in Lithuania. In order for this type of mobile commercial kitchen to operate as smoothly as possible, it is important to have the right equipment and technical solutions.
Žėrūnas Dilka is the Head of Fornesa, a company that has been providing food truck installations for over a decade. He says that significant challenges are presented by these small spaces, so it is crucial to carefully plan every detail: “First of all, you need to decide the specific field of catering that the vehicle should be equipped for, and then determine what documents, licences and permits need to be obtained. After that, you should collaborate with specialists to design and prepare and the work areas and ensure they are arranged conveniently and ergonomically. This includes everything from the food storage, preparation and cooking areas, to the delivery site to the customer. All the technical issues must also be discussed: electrical installations, plumbing, ventilation, etc. Cutting corners when planning and not working with professionals can lead to costly mistakes. For example, if a skylight is abandoned for economic reasons, it could lead to excess smoke and heat when cooking in the van.”
As soon as you have the main idea for your project, you should start thinking about the equipment you will need for your food truck. Both ordinary and mobile catering establishments rely on a refrigerator and a freezer for their operations, so in order to ensure that top quality food is served, it is important pay attention and ensure products are properly frozen and stored.
Žilvinas Stonys, a representative of Audores, which sells restaurant equipment and offer consultations regarding installations and maintenance issues, suggests that the quality of the refrigeration equipment is not the only important thing. A food truck owner should also be thinking about what functions the equipment will have to perform: “The most suitable refrigeration unit can be found by taking into account the size of the van and the plan prepared by specialists, as well as the type of food that is going to be prepared. If you intend to use a lot of frozen products, you will need a larger refrigerator or freezer. However, if you are planning to have a large beverage menu, you may want to consider buying an ice maker or a beverage cooler. The Audores range includes equipment that has been technically adapted for commercial activities, and is therefore known for its functionality, reliability and durability.”
Whatever menu you decide for your food van, you will not be able to produce your dishes without the right cooking equipment: ovens, convection ovens, fryers, grills, etc. According to the Audores representative Ž. Stonys, the cooking equipment used in a food van must combine high quality with functionality: „Convection ovens are often the perfect solution for food trucks. They provide a fast method of cooking, so there are no queues at the food van and customers do not have to wait. Such ovens can also be very multifunctional, i.e., they are suitable not only for baking but also for cooking, steaming and other functions. This means you can kill two birds with one stone.”
On the other hand, industrial fryers can prepare a variety of crispy snacks and dishes in a fast and healthy manner, so they are another item that is often chosen for cooking in a truck. To ensure a comfortable, efficient and safe working environment, the experts recommend purchasing a fryer from a reliable manufacturer that will work reliably for a long time.
In addition to the devices we have already mentioned, a food truck needs to be equipped with a dishwasher that will work efficiently and not take up much space. Depending on the specific menu, a variety of slicers, mixers and other professional kitchen gadgets should also be used.
Since there is so little space in a food truck, it is very important to make sure that the furniture is carefully designed and arranged in the work area. The Head of Fornesa, Ž. Dilka, also suggested that special attention should be paid to the materials from which the furniture is made: “The furniture in a food trucks should be made of high quality stainless steel. This will not only ensure compliance with the necessary hygiene requirements, but is also convenient and practical. Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and mechanical damage, while being easy to clean and maintain.”
Clearly, every inch of the available space must be utilised when designing the interior of a food van. According to Ž. Dilka, the only possible way to achieve this is with the help of an experienced manufacturer: “Our experience has taught us that if a food truck project is well thought-through, and if all the installation processes are performed thoroughly and include professional equipment, even the most unexpected ideas can be realised successfully. For example, we installed a food truck in a vintage car, as well as turning a fire truck into the Bebro pancake restaurant. We also performed the installation for the largest and the most luxurious restaurant on wheels in Lithuania, Gorilla Burger.”