Mobile coffee business - permits

coffeeholicnj

New member
Aug 18, 2010
2
0
I am looking to start a mobile business and was hoping to get some advice.

I am southern NJ/PA area and wonder what I need to find out about for Health Departments.
Is it based on a state or do I need a permit for every county I want to work in. I plan to sell to corporate markets so will be in company parking lots if it makes a difference.

Has anyone got experience in getting permission to sell outside of train stations? I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,585
2
Central North Carolina
In this line of work you have to think positive, but you also have to be realistic. Almost 1 year ago my wife and took this plunge (mobile espresso van) and it isn't easy... far from it. Getting permission to vend in certain areas is much harder than it initially seemed at first. The people love us, but other business owners not so much. In their eyes because we are mobile and aren't leasing a brick/mortar location we aren't a real business.

We contacted our local environmental health department and we sort of fall in a grey area in that they are aware of what we're doing, but aren't monitored like a restaurant would be. As long as our dairy is 40 degrees or less, we have potable water and we wash,rinse,sanitize in our 3 compartment sink it's all good. We also contacted our state environment/agriculture department so they know what we do as well.

Technically we don't have to have any permits to operate in any area. But we did get a small business (peddler) license for a couple of local cities we vend in most often just in case it was brought up by anybody. Anytime we go to another county we always notify them of what we're doing, but haven't been required to obtain a permit. BUT every county/state can be different and usually are. Good luck...
 
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coffeeholicnj

New member
Aug 18, 2010
2
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Shadow745,

Thanks for the information.

I spent most my day researching and a calling around. It seems that I have to call every city in NJ you want to do business in and get a permit and an inspection from each Health Department. Each time cost about $500 per year. I few areas wont even allow the van at all and are banned by the city.

So I have a lot more research to do in find a good route.

Back to figuring it all out....
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,585
2
Central North Carolina
Found any alternative routes to take yet? I will mention that lots of people we have ran across doing similar things (being mobile in operation) simply setup shop wherever/whenever, do their thing and hope it works. If they are approached by a landowner, health dept, etc. they simply pack up and scout out new areas. We don't believe in this sort of activity and choose to do things "by the book", but it is sometimes the way to go when you keep getting lots of NO's and very few YES's. Later!
 

chicago

New member
May 13, 2010
10
0
Hi,

We were in the same process, we actually had to go through 2 groups to get permits. First we contacted the City of Chicago and we fell under the category of Park Concession Management, then we had to go to a couple meetings with the local community alderman's office and get their approval as well. The third one we had to get approved by was a small union that operates only one area of the side of Chicago we're in. It was a loooong process, probably took a year to get all the permits/ approvals. (We were required to take health/ sanitation courses and get a business license as well!) We're opening in the next couple months!

Goodluck in NJ...hopefully not as political as Chicago ;)!
 
Hi all,
I posted this in the Espresso bars & cafes forums with no luck. I am glad to have found that this is the forum for these types of questions.
I am doing my due diligence on the permitting aspect. I seem to have hit a roadblock in the question and answer phase at the city planning dept. This is the local authority who grants itinerant food cards (supposedly what I need). I would like to be in an area that is close to the university. Apparently a lot of those areas near the university are zoned UMU-1 (a no go). The man at the planning office told me that I need to find an address or a couple (would be better) at which I would like to park/sell from. He said that I need to find some addresses that are zoned MU-1 or MU-2. Another question arises there... Should I be looking at streets or actual physical addresses? If I am looking at actual addresses then aren't we talking private property again? He also suggested also that I look at using private property. The only problem I see with using private property is that I will end up paying rent to the property owner, thus making me less mobile. I want to be able to move around and have more of a "route" than a set in location. If I wanted to be in a set in location I think I would just go for another "brick and mortar" drive thru. Please enlighten me. I have been on the phone all afternoon with people who think that my idea would work better on Mars than where I am looking
 
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