Conventional fabricators and distributors and food truck specialists alike have been taking advantage of the booming street food scene.
Target Catering Equipment’s MD, David Pedrette thinks that trucks are an easy entry level for those looking to become catering venue operators. The Gloucester-based fabricator and distributor has been involved in several trailer fit-outs, including converting an old American Airstream trailer into a Tex Mex diner to increase the capacity of the Royal Oak pub in Tepbury. “Only a specialist fabricator could fit out this caravan, as there were no straight lines within it,” commented Pedrette.
The firm usually specialises in induction equipment but for this installation it was required to fit LPG gas-powered equipment from Lincat. It is currently working on a proposal for an induction equipped trailer for street food and festival use for a London pop-up restaurant owner, however.
Road regulations for trailers changed in 2014, meaning they now all have to have an individual vehicle approval (IVA) certificate. This means that as well as being roadworthy, they cannot be overweight. “We are fortunate to have a weighbridge nearby, so once we have outfitted a trailer with the catering equipment, we weigh it to make sure it does not exceed the specifications,” said Pedrette.
Elsewhere, installation and servicing firm, the Safeguard Group, has discovered a niche in this market. LPG trailer service and maintenance is highly specialised, requiring qualified and skilled engineers who can operate at different levels of gas safety and installation. The Oldham-based company found that people providing that service were proving to be thin on the ground.
MD Steve Ingham explained: “We have customers who work trade fairs and markets so when they came to us for help I thought: why don’t we train our own people and start doing it ourselves?”
Safeguard quickly built up team of engineers and has seen a huge response since it started advertising LPG services in March.
It was after a routine repair for a regular customer that Ingham was contacted by a young couple who wanted him to do something special with an old builders’ van.
He detailed: “I was a bit surprised when they told me that they wanted to turn it into a mobile coffee shop, but once I’d seen that the van was actually in pretty good condition I thought it was a real opportunity to offer a completely unique service. So we turned it into not just a coffee bar but also one that could serve hot and cold snacks.”
The van now has a full LPG kit, refrigeration, WhiteRock ceiling and walls, electrics and even LED lights. Ingham concluded: “It’s turned out really well and I’m amazed what we’ve managed to pack into an old van. The couple intend to take it round the country to all kinds of fairs and events, but not until after its paint job, which I believe is going to be a case of covering it in coffee beans. We’re not doing that for them, but maybe we should start looking into that too.”