Mobile catering van

The costs of starting up a mobile catering business

29 July 2019 

If you are a restaurant owner, you will enjoy certain aspects of your business, such as a kitchen space to be creative with your food, regular customers from your own community and a venue that serves food to your own values. But are you missing a gap in the market that will allow you to reach more customers ?

People may come to your restaurant from your community to eat your food, but is there a way to take your food to them instead? With a bit of investment, you could take your business mobile, to your local community and even beyond! We’ve taken a look at how much you would need to start up this kind of mobile business.

How much money you want to invest will determine the kind of equipment you will be able to use for your new business. We have taken a look at the kind of things you will be able to buy with differing amounts of investment.

Your kitchen

There are a wide range of options to go for when thinking of what kind of cooking environment you want to have. The stall where you have your kitchen will also need to have to look attractive to entice customers to come to you over your competitors. Consider the type of food that you sell and decorate your stall with the appropriate theme.

With a small investment you could grab yourself a mobile oven or mobile grill for a few hundred pounds and a branded gazebo for as little as £99. You may need a van to transport all of your equipment, so take a look at our article which details popular commercial van costs or electric van costs.

If you are planning on taking your stall around the country or to festivals, you may want to consider checking out a catering trailer. The trailers themselves can be expensive, costing anything from £3,000, but will offer a more secure kitchen, and if you buy second-hand, they may come already fitted with equipment. You could also consider buying a van and having it converted into a mobile kitchen, however this could cost anywhere from £10,000.

Washing facilities

UK legislation outlines that a mobile catering businesses must have hand washing facilities, which could be an extra cost to install.

Gas facilities and certificates

If you are going to be using gas to cook, this will be an added cost for your business to install the system and to keep buying gas. You will also need to make sure that you have the correct gas certification, which could cost anything from £100 upwards.

Pitch fees

Unfortunately, you can’t just show up to a site and start selling food. You will usually need to have a licence or agreement to sell food at a particular site, especially if you are going to sell food at festivals or in town centres. Pitch fees can be as little as £7.50 for a small indoor market to a reported £18k for a stall at Glastonbury Festival.


If you are planning on selling alcohol on your premises, whether it’s at your restaurant or when you’re mobile, you will need to have either a personal or premises licence. You can apply for a licence to sell alcohol here. You will also need to obtain a food operations licence and register every premises where you carry out food operations, including your home, and mobile or temporary premises such as stalls and vans. Find out more.


As you may be busy running your restaurant, it is likely that you will need to employ additional staff  to run your stall. This will of course, create a cost for your business. It depends on how much you want to pay your staff, but try to keep it in line with what you pay staff at your other business.


Perhaps the most obvious cost that you will have is buying the ingredients or products that you will sell to your customers. If you already have a catering business, you will be able to use your regular suppliers, which should give you the same quality food when you’re mobile as your static catering business.

An important part of having a mobile catering business is having comprehensive insurance cover in place that will protect you and your business. We understand that all businesses in the food and hospitality industry have different insurance needs, which is why our insurance experts assess your business to find the right catering insurance or business van insurance for you.

Get in touch with our insurance advisors who will help compare business insurance quotes from some of the UK’s most trusted insurers.

It is important to make sure that you have the right insurance in place to protect the business that you have built. Every business is different and has its own business insurance needs, which is why we work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurers to ensure that you are getting the right insurance cover for your business.
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