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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    4

    mobile coffee Biz worth it? told to leave location? require loads of legal docs?

    I really like this website...so much info here.

    I'm trying to see if this idea is even worth it, dealing with the legal end of things. I usually over-estimate these difficulties though.

    I have 6 years coffee experience and love it; I'd like to have a mobile coffee trailer and travel nationwide. I'd only like to take donation/tip I don't need the money this is just a hobby. I'd like to get it permitted and under health code in one city then travel around wherever. I know having it permitted in one city isn't enough. So what's the estimate in a fine if I were to get caught in another state handing out coffee on the side of the road? what's the likelihood of getting caught?

    Would the fine be more than a 1,000 dollars? Also If I were to be parked in a random parking lot or on the street, what is the likelihood a city official will make me leave?
    I know these things vary state to state city to city, but I have no clue...any estimate or guess would even be helpful. I've noticed a lot of food truck, hot dog stands, and other food stands on the sidewalk/road and they don't seem to be up with their permits (from my unknowing POV), so maybe the city officials don't keep tabs like I think they do? at least here..

    I could leave daily if needed and I prefer to not stay in one city for more than 5 weeks.

    this is just an idea...I'm open to this being a complete disaster.

    I want to be as legal as I can without making everything not worth it. thanks

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Near Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    4,832
    Hi "dmagic"

    Welcome to the Coffee Forums website!

    What part of the country are you located in? You may think the city officials don't keep tabs, and maybe they don't until someone complains or turns you in.

    It sounds like you plan to live in your mobile coffee trailer as you travel across the country.

    Most people take notice when someone with out-of-state license plates sets up their food stand on the side of the road.

    And giving away coffee for donations/tips? Yes, your idea has disaster written all over it.

    It will be interesting to see what the other Forum members think about it.

    Rose

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    77
    There is a growing mobile food truck business in our area of Indiana and we are planning on joining it in the next month or two with a mobile coffee truck. What I know about the laws here in Indiana (and we are far from the most strict area) is that you are setting yourself up for big trouble. The fines for selling food without a health dept. permit and license can be high and I wouldn't expect that you would just get a warning.
    I for one would turn you into the authorities if I found you "giving away for tips" which is really selling under a different name. Not because I'm worried about you taking away business from me but because of what you might do to the mobile food reputation in my area.
    If you want to do this then do it right. Find a location that you want to stay in for awhile and get a temporary / festival permit and serve away. Then when you want to move on do so. Most health departments take their jobs very seriously and don't want you infecting people because of unsafe food handling and they will assume the worst about you if you don't go through the proper channels. You can do this if you really want to. There are many carnival / vendors that go from place to place and do so legally and that is really what you want to model yourself after if you proceed.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4
    just to confirm, I definitely want this thing permitted/licensed! just wondering if I were to only be licensed/permitted in one area what kind of trouble would I get into (how much would fines cost? and likelihood of getting approached by a city official?) if I went out of that area to serve while still being permitted in another area? Why is it illegal to serve and only receive donation? what if it were just a low price or suggested price? Thanks for the info on the temporary permit I'll check into it!

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4
    noo hahaha I wouldn't be living in it! I wouldn't be able to get it permitted in that case...so basically this idea prob won't work cause of permits/licenses not being valid out of the area of designation and since taking very little money would cause local chaos? I could charge very little? I'm not looking at making a living on this...but I can see the other reasons for charging money just due to how it might affect others.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    218
    Hello dmagic and welcome;
    Doesn't matter if you are giving it away you still need the permits from that jurisdiction. Not all places have the same rules.
    Another aspect is liability insurance. Because you are not permitted in that particular city and say someone gets sick or hurt from your product you would not have any insurance coverage leaving you wide open to catastrophic problems.
    Brian

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    77
    That there are some major issues to the idea is clear but could you do this? Yes I think you could and I can think of some reasons I might even want to do this at some point.
    Let's say I want to take a year or two and travel around the US. I love the outdoors and want to see as many places as I can. I do my homework and find a city in every state that I could work out of for a week or two. I write/e-mail the health department in each city/county and ask for rules on temporary food permits. I would find places where I could set up at a reasonable price and still cover expenses. I would then plan a rout that would put me in each location at a peak coffee buying time for both locals and tourists.
    For the traveling I would build into or onto my truck a cargo carrier that would hold camping equipment that I could use at campgrounds in or near the locations I wanted to be. Then I would find a way to either pull a small car or load a motorcycle to the truck and be ready to hit the road. Before I leave one location I would call ahead to the permitting body of the next location and make sure that I have an appointment to be inspected and get my permit where I am going.
    Just a few thoughts to encourage you to not give up to quickly.

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by sidg View Post
    That there are some major issues to the idea is clear but could you do this? Yes I think you could and I can think of some reasons I might even want to do this at some point.
    Let's say I want to take a year or two and travel around the US. I love the outdoors and want to see as many places as I can. I do my homework and find a city in every state that I could work out of for a week or two. I write/e-mail the health department in each city/county and ask for rules on temporary food permits. I would find places where I could set up at a reasonable price and still cover expenses. I would then plan a rout that would put me in each location at a peak coffee buying time for both locals and tourists.
    For the traveling I would build into or onto my truck a cargo carrier that would hold camping equipment that I could use at campgrounds in or near the locations I wanted to be. Then I would find a way to either pull a small car or load a motorcycle to the truck and be ready to hit the road. Before I leave one location I would call ahead to the permitting body of the next location and make sure that I have an appointment to be inspected and get my permit where I am going.
    Just a few thoughts to encourage you to not give up to quickly.

    sidg, yes this is exactly what I was considering. I think you understand. I wonder though if all those permits/etc in every city all the time would be so costly and timely that the whole idea wouldn't even be worth it? Is the permitting not as bad as I image?

  9. #9
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Near Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    4,832
    Hey "dmagic"

    How is it that you can afford to even consider this adventure? Did you recently win the mega-millions jackpot?

    Just wondering....

    Rose

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    218
    Also wondering how you could give coffee away but have to worry about permitting costs?
    Brian

 

 
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