Gazebo or Food Truck/ Trailers, for Hot Food Traders?

Part 1 - Advantages of Gazebos and Stalls

When it comes to setting up a hot food trading business, the choice between gazebos and stalls versus food trucks or trailers is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact success.

In this three-part series, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each option to help hot food traders make informed choices for their mobile catering ventures.

In Part One, we’ll delve into the advantages of gazebos and stalls, highlighting their cost-effectiveness, eye-level visibility, and scalability. Whether you’re a seasoned trader or just starting out, understanding the benefits of these traditional setups can provide valuable insights into optimising your mobile food business. 

So let’s dive in and discover why gazebos and stalls continue to be popular choices among hot food traders.

Pros

Cost –

The main reason that traders go for a Gazebo is cost. A brand new durable aluminium gazebo with sufficient fire proofing can cost as little as €500 – €650, making it the most cost effective way of setting up a Mobile Catering business. These days gazebo suppliers are likely to be able to print bespoke designs onto the roof and sides, all of which will help the trader to brand their units so that they stand out from the crowd.

A well designed and branded gazebo often looks better than an old trailer and is cheaper. It can also be around 20 times cheaper than a motorised unit or trailer, but you do have to add your own equipment and safety measures. Unlike food vans or trailers, you have to set them up and pack them up each day, and you will need a van or estate car to carry all of your equipment.

Eye Level –

Many gazebo traders swear by the advantages of being at eye level with the customer, and the food being in clear view. This makes it easier for the customer to see the food being cooked, which can be a real bonus, especially if there is a degree of theatre involved in the cooking process.

From Paella to Hog Roasts, the customers like to see what they are getting and this can help you to sell your wares. It is worth noting though, that you can’t hide anything either, so poor food hygiene or a lack of hand washing facilities will be in full public view. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have the right equipment and you deal with the food hygienically and professionally.

Driving Licences & Costs –

It is a lot easier and cheaper to store a gazebo, some fold down tables and some basic equipment than it is to store a trailer or catering van. People are far less likely to run off with your gazebo than steal a trailer or van, and if your trailer or van gets stolen, you cannot trade.

Furthermore, if your trailer or van breaks down on the way to a market or event, the chances are you won’t be able to trade or will have to get it towed onto and off site. This can be a nightmare if you are working at events up and down the country. With a gazebo, if your van breaks down, you can always unload it and get another van to site. If you hire vans for specific events and they break down, the hire company should send a replacement.

Stall Size –

Many markets are in busy retail areas with market stalls sitting in front of shops. The retailers often pay large rents and significant rates and are not likely to be happy if you turn up with a 20ft trailer which completely covers their shop window.

Market organisers can fit more gazebos or market stalls in a limited space than they can trailers or vans, meaning that they can make more money from the market. For this reason alone, you are far more likely to see market stalls used at events with limited space, especially street markets.

There has also been a reaction against the more traditional trailers over the past few years, as some perceive them to sell cheap and cheerful fast food.

Scale –

You can always scale up a gazebo – you can’t scale up (or down) a van or trailer – so if you need to get into a 3 metre space you can use one gazebo, or to scale up for a show or event, just take a second gazebo!

Shop Window –

A gazebo offers a full frontage meaning that you have more space to show off and sell your food than say a hatch from a van or a trailer. Assuming you make the most of it, a larger frontage to sell from can be a key advantage.

Cons

Limited Weather Protection: –

Unlike enclosed food trucks or trailers, gazebos and stalls offer limited protection against adverse weather conditions such as rain, wind, and extreme temperatures. Inclement weather can disrupt operations, damage equipment, and deter customers, posing a significant challenge for food traders who rely on outdoor setups.

Security Risks –

Unattended gazebos and stalls are vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and unauthorised access, especially in crowded event spaces or urban environments. Food traders may need to invest in additional security measures such as locks, alarms, and surveillance systems to safeguard their equipment and inventory, adding to operational costs and logistical challenges.

Setup and Packing Time –

Setting up and packing away gazebos and stalls requires significant time and effort, especially compared to the convenience of food trucks or trailers that can be driven to and from locations. Food traders may need to arrive early and stay late at events to complete these tasks, limiting their availability for other business activities and personal commitments.

Limited Mobility –

While gazebos and stalls offer flexibility in terms of location and setup, they lack the mobility of food trucks or trailers, which can be driven to various events and trading spots. This limited mobility may restrict opportunities for expanding into new markets or reaching different customer demographics, potentially impacting the growth and profitability of the business.

Gazebos and stalls offer hot food traders a range of advantages that make them attractive options for mobile catering businesses. From their cost-effectiveness and eye-level visibility to their scalability and flexibility, these traditional setups provide practical solutions for traders looking to establish a presence at events, markets, and festivals.

By understanding the benefits of gazebos and stalls, traders can make informed decisions that align with their business goals and maximize their success in the competitive food industry. Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll explore the pros and cons of food trucks, providing further insights into the diverse landscape of mobile food trading.