Mobile Vending Coffee Business Thoughts


New member
Jul 1, 2007
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Hello everyone, I have really enjoyed reading stuff on this site. I have learned alot so far.
Any way, I am working on a business plan to open up a mobile coffee trailer. Please give me any imput or experience you might have on my idea. The business will sell speciality coffees, including iced coffees, iced teas, smothies, lemonade, hot chocolate (in the cold monthes) and a few other drinks that I am still working on. We will sell at special events such as city fairs and events, car shows, market nights and holiday events. Heres my vision, I am going to restore a vintage travel trailer to resemble a old time coffee shop. Kind of like a 40''s - 50''s soda shop. The trailer will be stripped and polished and be acsented in a red color.
I have had this idea for some time now. I came up with it because at these events there is not a huge selection of drink venders and I just love old trailers and think that just the trailer alone would draw attention let alone great drinks. There are venders at these events selling junk and pulling in $1500 a night, so I know there is a business there.
Please give me some thoughts on this. You guys have alot of experience at this, I am still very \"green\" here.
Thanks alot, Rusty


New member
Oct 24, 2007
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Firstly, before you put a lot of work and money into restoring your trailer, go to your county environmental health dept and find out what the regulations are - # of sinks, height, screens, etc. They'll have guidelines for mobile kitchens.

Make a business plan. You need to figure out how much this will all cost you. Only doing special events, it might take you a while to make your investment back. Remember, if you have a "day job" somewhere else, working on the weekend means working 7 days a week. We did that for 5 years, although my hubby worked the trailer during the week on a route. Hubby made a decent living at it, but with a route, when you are sick or on vacation, you may think that you are your own boss, but you're not. You call ALL of your regular customers to let them know that you won't be in, because the competition will try to steal your customers away...that's what happened with us.

When you do these $1500 events, especially when it's not all day, maybe it's 4th of July and you start at 5 pm, and it's slow but then you start getting rather busy by 7 pm, and then you've got 20 people in line until 10 pm and it's nonstop, and they're cranky, because they've been waiting a while. And when you start and don't bring enough milk, like our first high school football game, oh my!! Then you have to go home, mop out the trailer, bleach everything, restock cups, count out your money drawer and get your deposit ready, and your back and feet are killing you.

Keep in mind that the vendors selling junk might be getting $10 or $20 for each transaction. You are getting $1.50 to $4.50 per transaction. If it's an older crowd (AARP eligible), you'll sell more $1 cups of coffee than lattes or mochas.

Make SURE that whatever event that you do, you get an EXCLUSIVE contract - the show producers will NOT bring in another coffee or smoothie trailer. If there are two of you, neither will make much money.

I'm not trying to be a downer here, I hope you go for it and make it happen and are happy. I'm just trying to give you what we went through. Good luck to you! Let us know what you decided to do.