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Best UK cities for food trucks

Are you considering breaking into the UK’s exciting food industry? Well, you’re in luck there’s never been a better time to act on your dreams of culinary excellence. With even a modest investment, a street food stall or food truck are both great ways to set up shop quickly and easily. That’s if you’ve got your location sorted. 

In this Mobilers article, we’ll give you a rundown of some of the best cities in the UK to launch your budding food business. We’ll also give some invaluable insights on how successful food truck businesses find the perfect spot to trade from. Whether you’re setting up for the first time or are just looking to find a fresh location, our Mobilers guide will be super-useful.

Because one of the best things about food trucks is that if the location doesn’t work out you can easily move from one place to another. Who says you have to commit to one location forever?

But before we get started there’s one thing important to remember. As well as finding the perfect location, having the right insurance cover is a key requirement for any business to succeed.

The ever-helpful team at Mobilers is always available to answer any questions you may have about catering public liability insurance or other policies. Give us a call today, and get your mobile catering business off to a great start.

fish and chip food truck serving customers

Top 14 UK cities for your mobile catering business

There's plenty of variety when it comes to the best places for setting up a street food business in the UK. From stunning beaches and music festivals to office car parks and industrial estates, when you’re at the wheel of a mobile catering van who knows where the journey could take you. With the right approach, almost any location could turn into a potential goldmine for a dedicated food truck entrepreneur.

But when it comes to getting closer to the action and maximising the opportunities to secure pitches at the widest variety of events, steering closer to larger cities is a wise move. If you’re wondering which cities have the best street food opportunities then take a look at our list to see if there’s one that’s right for you.

1. London

As the culinary capital of the UK, there are few better places in the world to launch a street food business than London. With plenty of money in the pockets of Londoners and tourists alike, there should be lots of customers. And if you’ve got something new and interesting on offer, there’s sure to be a wealth of opportunities to enter the already thriving street food scene. It really is a melting pot of food ideas from all over the world, the perfect place to experiment and innovate.

2. Brighton

Down on the English south coast, Brighton has a sophisticated foodie scene that outshines pretty much any seaside city competitor. With so many organic farms and even vineyards close by, the market here rightly favours locally-sourced ingredients. The range of artisanal craft food on offer is also a big draw for foodies to the city. If your food truck can ride this trend then success will be just around the corner.

3. Bath

There are few more beautiful cities in the UK than Bath. But whereas there used to be a dearth of good, affordable places to eat, in recent years there’s been something of a foodie revolution here. While the local food scene is imbued with such exciting energy, there’s no better time to reap the benefits than with a food truck. Be sure to take advantage of all that fabulous local produce now available. Bath has a thriving Christmas market scene, too, which should bring in some out-of-season cash.

4. Bristol

There’s always something new and exciting happening in Bristol, and the food and drink on offer here is no exception. If you’re looking to get an insight into the Bristolian street food scene then there’s no better place to start than St Nicholas Market in the centre of the city.

This popular and historic food market takes place in stunning Georgian surroundings and offers visitors a bewildering array of international street foods. There’s a changing range of events taking place here. Be sure to look out for family-friendly night markets with shopping, entertainment and street food.

5. Cardiff

The Welsh capital boasts a constantly changing menu of street food businesses. These provide a wonderful showcase for the vast range of cultures and food influences that have made their home here. There are great locations all over the city, but some of the most popular street food venues include Depot, Sticky Fingers, Roath Yard, Goodsheds, The Bone Yard, Street Food Warehouse and Neighbourhood Kitchen.

6. Birmingham

Birmingham is not only the home of the Peaky Blinders but also Cadbury World and the most Michelin-starred restaurants outside London. Locals and visitors to the city are in line for some great entertainment and some ridiculously delicious grub. While Birmingham is the birthplace of the spicy Balti, there’s plenty of other flavours to explore in the city’s burgeoning street food scene.

7. Liverpool

With such globetrotting history and streetwise energy, it’s no wonder the Liverpool street food scene is so vibrant. To get a handle on what this incredible city has to offer, make your way to Baltic Market, the city’s pre-eminent street food hub in Cains Brewery Village. This big, bustling warehouse affair is not to be missed.

8. Manchester

Yet another teeming, multicultural hub full of independent street food traders serving up an incredible selection of imaginative street food. One of the great things about the city is the array of neighbourhoods, each with their own distinctive culinary characteristics. Setting up shop in one of these is a great way to target a specific niche or cuisine. Be aware, competition in the Manchester area is fierce and ever changing. You really need to be at the top of your game to succeed here.

9. Leeds

Known as not only the ‘gateway to Yorkshire’ but also possessing an unrivalled street food scene, this dynamic Northern city needs to be on your radar. Whether you’ve got an all-singing, all-dancing food truck, a tuk-tuk or a pop-up stall, there’ll be a spot for you here.

10. York

With its ancient walls, pretty cobbled streets and mediaeval heart this historic city is a magnet for visitors who enjoy the finer things in life. To keep everyone well fed and watered an incredible range of independent street food eateries have sprung up. Indeed, consumer champion Which? recently awarded the city a perfect five stars in its food and drink survey.

11. Newcastle

Another city vying for the crown of the UK’s favourite spot for street food, Newcastle has a thriving student population, great nightlife and insatiable appetite for new cuisines. A perfect combination for food trucks and street food traders to take advantage of. There’s also a long list of local food fairs and events to bring in the foodie crowds. Perfect for getting your name out there and building up a dedicated fan base.

12. Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital serves up a truly diverse range of culinary discoveries. From sophisticated offerings to more casual fare, setting up here could be one of the best decisions you make. Be warned, things can go a bit crazy during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe season. If you manage to grab a spot as a mobile caterer at this iconic arts festival you could be looking at a lot of work but a serious profit.

13. Glasgow

The mouth-watering array of street food on offer in Glasgow is a major attraction to the city, and a key part of its long-term rivalry with Edinburgh. Unpretentious and very cool, there are lots of opportunities to cater to diners’ palates within the city. And not a deep-fried Mars Bar in sight!

14. Belfast

Thanks to its proximity to the Irish Sea, the Northern Ireland capital enjoys an abundant supply of fish. Making it one of the very best places for super fresh seafood - something that food truck owners will want to take advantage of. There have been claims that the very best fish and chips are sold here. So, if you’re in that part of the market then be aware you’ll have some very stiff competition.

And there you have it. A list of 14 prime locations for the next stage in your food truck business plans. Bear in mind that competition in cities is not for the faint-hearted, so put plenty of thought into your plans.

Remember, while small food businesses may be easy to get into, it’s staying ahead that’s the real challenge. Read our Mobilers ultimate guide to starting a mobile catering business for more tips.

Ideal food truck locations

With so many people lining up to grab the latest and greatest street food available, more and more food trucks are popping up around the country. And it’s not just in the big cities. With popularity rising, it’s going to get even more important for you to position yourself just right when it comes to grabbing your fair share of the business. Indeed, some experts claim having the right location might be even more important than your menu!

Interested in where the most consistent and profitable locations to park your truck are? Then take a look at this list of proven, prime, successful locations that usually have enough people to support a food truck, or several.

doughnut food truck in London

Street parking

Parking up on the side of a busy street in the city is perhaps the most logical choice for getting some quick business. But finding the right place isn’t always easy. In particular, you can’t just park up on any old street. Local authorities will have specially dedicated areas where street food businesses can sell food to the public.

Also take into account that the best location for one business might not be the same for another one. Decide on your target customer and look for locations where they hang out. For example, those targeting parents at the park or construction workers may well require a different location to those targeting city office workers.

If you put in the effort to target your audience, you’ll soon have a thriving food truck business.

Street food markets

As you can see from our rundown of top cities, developing a vibrant street food market is a popular tactic for many local authorities. And while you might think that parking next to the competition seems counterintuitive, this isn’t always the case.

The appetite for street food has exploded in recent years, and many business owners have realised working together can be good for everyone. Lots of food trucks meeting in a single location on a regular day and at a regular time will attract far more business than someone operating alone.

Street food markets give diners way more choices, meaning even large groups of family or friends can easily find menu items to satisfy different tastes. Indeed, when there’s so much on offer, visitors to the market may even decide to eat and spend far more than they usually would. After all, who wouldn’t want to try a bit of everything?

If you specialise in a cuisine where there’s a lot of competition then consider signing up for events that include trucks from non-competing menu categories. For example, if gelato is what you serve, you’ll do great business parked next to a pizza truck!

Large offices, business parks, industrial estates

Parking near big office buildings, business parks or industrial estates could be a winner. All those city employees will want a nearby place to eat during their lunch breaks.

If you’re looking at such a location then don’t forget to put in some marketing effort. Contact the businesses and see if they’re interested in you providing food for their employees. Drop off menus and flyers announcing when you’ll be there and what you’ll be serving. Anything to get your business known, ready for opening.

A business might even let you park outside every day or once a week. With a consistent location and a ready supply of hungry lunchtime diners you’re bound to succeed.

Farmers markets

Farmers markets might not be perfect for every mobile caterer and some menus will work better than others. Those offering menu items using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients tend to work best, but it’s well worth testing the market. People living in large cities love farmers markets as they offer something they can’t just pick up in their local store or supermarket.

Late night bars and clubs

Exciting night life is one of the reasons many people love living in cities. And after a night out having a good time, many revellers will be looking for something delicious and filling to satisfy their appetite. This might not be a market for everyone, but it can be very lucrative if you know what you’re doing.

Even at the best of times, accidents can happen. But when people have been out partying, customers may be at more risk from harm than usual. Having the right catering public liability insurance is essential to help deal with any problems that could arise.

Festivals, fairs and sporting events

Selling food at city-based festivals, fairs or sporting events is a tried-and-tested way to both make money and get your business in front of large crowds of people.

Depending on the event, it might be too expensive to rent a pitch inside. If so, you’ll probably still catch a lot of traffic entering and leaving the event if you set up in a nearby location.

There are many risks to catering at such events. For example, food contamination could easily cause illness in those who eat your food, which could see you claiming on your catering public liability insurance. For more on the risks to catering vans at festival time , read this helpful Mobilers guide.

food on display in food truck

Universities and colleges

Every big city has its fair share of universities, colleges and education establishments. And as we all know, students can be a hungry lot always looking for different, unique and quick dining experiences. Setting up near where students hang out could be great for business.

Whichever location you hit upon, staying on the right side of the law is an important part of any successful business. Give Mobilers a call and tell us about your mobile catering business.

This will enable us to take you through what insurance cover you need to have by law, and other cover you should consider. For example, as well as catering public liability insurance, you might also want specialist catering insurance for your vehicle and its valuable contents.

Before you set up anywhere, always consider these important questions.

  • Are you allowed to park your food truck here?
  • Do you need to get permission from a business or landowner?
  • Do you have the right catering public liability insurance? Is there any other cover you need?
  • Is there a fee for setting up here? Will you sell enough to make it worthwhile?
  • Is the space large enough for your food truck? Will your customers be safe?
  • Is there enough passing trade to make the location viable?
  • Are other restaurants or food trucks in the area?
  • What’s the best time to park here to reach your target customers?

Here at Mobilers, we’re always trying to give you new ideas to boost your catering business. Wondering about how to get into vegan mobile catering? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered. Are you looking for some spring cleaning tips? Or you want to take your food truck to the best UK food events in 2022? These are all subjects we’ve covered recently.

Catering public liability insurance from Mobilers

As specialists in areas such as catering public liability insurance, the experienced team at Mobilers can offer you a range of policy benefits, including instant cover and instant documentation.

If required due to a contract or event, then catering public liability insurance policies can be extended to £10m. We can also offer flexible payment options and exclusive discounts. It really is easy to protect your mobile catering business through us.

Get a quick quote for catering public liability insurance from Mobilers today.

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