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Food Cart Business: Beginner’s Guide (Top 9 Ideas)

By July 26, 2020January 13th, 20215 Comments
Food cart business

You’re probably lying on your bed right now. Your eyes are fixed at the ceiling.

You’re uncertain of the future that awaits you. You’re wishful thinking of becoming rich, secured, and financially independent.

Your ultimate dream of becoming one successful entrepreneur never left your bucket list.  You constantly fancy a well-reputed business and a stable source of income.

Why don’t you turn that fancy into reality? I strongly believe that being business-minded is innate in all of us. Let’s fuel that passion and turn your aspirations into motion.

Through this blog, unleash and showcase that entrepreneur in you!

To jumpstart your very first business venture, one of the most highly recommended in the Philippines is a food cart business.

A food cart business is an ideal opportunity and a great training ground for beginners. Minimal experience won’t hinder your business endeavors.

I must emphasize how people crave for food every time and everywhere, literally.

Because of this, they’ll grab the chance to fill their stomachs with food whenever their eye catches something they crave for.

How to Start a Food Cart Business

Starting a food cart business involves three major steps. These include conducting preliminary market research, complying with business and legal requirements, and then launching your food cart or franchise.

However, here’s a breakdown of the more detailed processes you’ll need to undergo

1. The dilemma between creating your own brand or applying for a franchise

The first step is very crucial. When you realized later that you have failed in settling for the better choice, your business can go haywire.

You should initially consider the resources that are available for you. This includes capital, time and the skills required.

If you prefer establishing your food cart, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to amplify your business and pride in your own brand. You have the privilege to own all your rights to your food cart.  Your operations will potentially grow, and you’ll eventually seek expansion.

Consequently, you can be a franchisor (you’ll grant licenses for franchises) yourself and you’ll accumulate higher income and earn a better brand reputation. This is ideal for the long-term.

However, launching your food cart requires a lengthy time, critical planning, and intricate execution. Procuring food recipes, suppliers and staff may require a tedious effort. Yes, it’s most likely to be susceptible to failures. The uncertainty and risks are your main opponents.

You can’t reject the possibility that your food cart won’t appeal to the masses. You would be introducing a new product to the market, dwelling in an environment already full of pre-existing competitors.  

On the other hand, franchise translates into an established brand and higher chances of success. It may be a better option for newbies, but you possess less freedom and control. You are subjected to higher costs and necessitates you to comply with the terms of your franchisor.

You don’t need to be a business graduate to learn this, but you are also free to consult other experienced entrepreneurs.  If time permits, you can conduct a simple feasibility study.

You can weigh the projected costs and sales between the two options. Then, you can forecast projected financial information to settle for a more feasible alternative

2. Choose the right franchise

There are various business franchise opportunities out there. By conducting market research, analyzing trends and demands, you’ll secure the right franchise for you that will successfully match your budget, resources, and goals.

Some in-demand franchises today are Potato Corner, Siomai King and Mister Donut, all of which require an investment below P500,000.

Do you already have a business franchise you’d like to venture into?

If not, continue reading as I reveal later some of the best food cart franchise opportunities suitable for you!

3. Ensure sufficient capital investment

One of the hurdles of venturing into a food cart business is the capital investment. This investment covers all initial cash outlays before commencing and conducting full operations.

However, don’t make an investment you can’t lose! Learn to incorporate risks and uncertainties in your business. Also, refrain from obtaining loans to minimize debts and losses in case of business failures.

4. Prepare a business plan

Your business plan will serve as your blueprint. It will guide you throughout your food cart business journey.

Planning saves time and maximizes your resources. You tend to mitigate the risks more effectively and combat complications that occur.

Write your short-term and long-term goals, and your plans on the management, budgeting, and operations of the food cart business.

5. Invest in the main product

Get ready to dive into an intense competition as you establish your own food cart. Investing in the food you offer means you heavily prioritize the quality of the food. You desire on earning the customers’ loyalty and satisfaction.

Ensure that your product is distinct and unique from other existing brands. You continue to build, innovate, and explore from time to time.

A notable innovation on food I notice is how entrepreneurs start to prepare colorful burgers (pink, violet or blue) as an addition from the usual buns.

However, it is uncertain if this innovation delighted all customers.

6. Create an appealing food cart design

Develop an eye-catching and engaging food cart design. Invest in consulting and hiring graphic designers for logos, menus, advertisement materials and the actual food stall. Make your logo memorable as it would help position your brand to your customers’ minds.

If you ventured into operating your own food cart, the concept is a vital element to keep in mind.  Your concept must complement your logo, food cart design and well-depicted in your operations.

7. Secure a good starting location

Before settling for a location, try to assess first the number of people passing by that area. Make sure it attracts crowds by observing the movement and flow of people. It could be inside malls, conveniently adjacent to transport terminals, and beside academic institutions.

If you want to venture into a food cart business with siomai as your product, it is best to secure a location near colleges and universities. Students commonly consider siomai as their ultimate favorite option for lunch or merienda.

You can’t build your food cart on top of a mountain where your cart is out of people’s sight. Likewise, you can’t operate inside a cave where sunlight barely even touches your food cart!

8. Prioritize food sanitation

Food preparation is very crucial behind the counter. You and your staff must always maintain a clean and tidy workstation.  Invest in quality containers and packaging, and always check expiration dates of the ingredients.

You don’t want your food cart business going viral on social media exposing how unsanitary your workstation is. It could ruin the brand’s reputation. That could lead to huge losses and all your efforts will turn into a disaster. Not only should you prioritize your reputation, but the health and well-being of your customers as well.

9. Offer outstanding customer service

This type of industry tests your patience and social skills. Always welcome customers with warmth and patience, no matter the case. Even if you or one of your staff is currently devastated by heartbreak or a loss, manage still to put on a smile.

 Make it a habit to radiate a pleasant attitude to your customers. Resolve complaints nicely and acknowledge mistakes.

Don’t wait for the time until an uploader posts a video of your staff shouting at a poor customer. You don’t want your food cart to be famous in that way, don’t you? Some people just don’t forget that easily.

Word of mouth is strongly powerful that it could instantly ruin the reputation you built for a long time.

10. Strategize with your prices

Being faced with intense competition in your own food cart business, you must gain a competitive advantage through pricing strategies. As a customer yourself, you consider food prices that are budget-friendly and suit your preference.

However, make sure to set your selling price higher than the cost. Strike a balance between affordability, competitiveness, and profit.

You should also negotiate with your suppliers well to avail discounts and lower costs

11. Register your business

As a law-abiding citizen, you must secure all the necessary permits from DTI, IPO and BIR. Apply for health and sanitary permits and BFAD approval as well.

Since you are given the privilege to operate and earn a profit, you must comply with legal requirements and pay your tax liabilities.

12. Hire an adequate and competent staff and team

The staff you will assign in your workstation will be shouldering your brand. They must be well-compensated to gain motivation for maximum performance.

Be meticulous in choosing your team members for they will all be playing crucial roles for managing and improving your business.

13. Market your food cart

Technology conveniently makes the marketing process easier. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram are your havens for the promotion of your food cart and enable you to earn your very first loyal customers.

Marketing requires limitless creativity. Why don’t you make a catchy tagline and a song for your food cart that will be stuck on your customers’ heads?

Ask your friends to share your advertisements to have a wider reach. You can provide promos and gimmicks for your customers when your food cart has just launched!

14. Love the product you sell

You must be a fan of your own product. You can’t engage in a food cart business that sells shawarma if you find it unappetizing.

Loving the product you sell creates a more pleasant and stress-free working environment for you! This could be one of the keys to ensure the longevity of your business.

Food Cart Franchise

Food cart franchise

Franchising is “a method for expanding a business and distributing goods and services through a licensing relationship,” a definition provided by the International Franchise Association.

This licensing agreement involves the participation of both franchisor and franchisee. You should know the difference between these two in layman’s terms:


He is the legal owner of the overall rights, including trademark, method, and products of the company. He grants the license to the franchisee.


He is the one bound by the licensing agreement granted by the franchisor. The franchisee purchased the right to sell the franchisor’s products.

In this case, planning to start your food cart franchise through already established brands will make you the franchisee.

Advantages of Franchising

1. Established brand and customer base – When you franchise, the brand is already recognized and has proven its profitability. You won’t worry that much about incurring huge losses.

2. Higher chances of success

3. Faster return of investment

4. Growing trend

5. Minimal risk

6. Marketing support – Advertisements are often aired on televisions and radios. Some are even heavily promoted through billboards and other powerful outlets so attracting customers won’t be that burdensome.

Disadvantages of Franchising:

1. Royalty fees – Fees must be remitted to the franchisor for a percentage of your monthly sales; thus, your income is reduced.

2. Limited control and freedom

3. Dependence on franchisor success

4. Limited creativity and flexibility – If you ventured into a milk tea franchise, you can’t innovate the taste of the milk tea. You can’t decide on your own and replace the tapioca pearls with your own preferred version.

As you can notice, the advantages still outweigh the disadvantages. Actually, the franchise has been named as the “business with least tears and fears.”

This boosted your motivation, am I right?

I hope you keep that passion burning!

Food Cart Business Ideas

Food cart business ideas

You already made progress in reading this blog. Probably, this guide already flicked a light on your mind!

So, upon conducting a little research on what Filipinos love today, here are some ideas for your own food cart business that could further spark your interest!

1. Milk tea

Among all the food products on this list, this one takes the crown. Filipinos ranked second highest milk tea drinkers in Southeast Asia. The average milk tea consumption in the Philippines is 5 cups per month!

As a milk tea addict, maybe you have that unique milk tea formula you’d like to explore! Turn those pearls into cash! If this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Gilbert Jim, a tea-lover and owner of Bubbatealicious which started in 2008, wanted to advocate tea-drinking which wasn’t prominent in the country at that time. He continued advocating tea-drinking until his hard work only paid off in 2010.

As your own milk tea business reaps its success, expect the blockbuster lines, and the whopping blockbuster sales!

2. Fruit shakes

Filipinos, regardless of age, want something to quench their thirst in this microwave oven we live in.

Whether you built a cart in transport terminals or beside schools won’t matter; people will still be lining up for a refreshing mango shake or buko shake.

3. Silog

The perfect ulam + sinangag + itlog would always be the ultimate favorite combination. Tapa, tocino, hotdog and bangus are some of the classic favorites.

It’s not only ideal for breakfast but satisfies your stomach for any meal of the day.

A perfect example of a successful food cart business would be Ate Rica’s Bacsilog.

The craze started in DLSU, until it branched out its operations in other areas. They stepped up the typical bacon silog by featuring and boasting their most-loved cheese sauce!

4. Chicken wings

Who doesn’t love chicken wings? Chicken wings are a timeless favorite. People continue to indulge in experimenting sauces and new flavors that would be on par with other chicken wings restaurants.

5. Street food

Make those kwek-kwek, isaw, fish ball, siomai or dimsum your own version! You can innovate by producing a delicious coating or even by adding a twist to the usual orange kwek-kwek color.

Be remembered as a modern street food cart business that prides in cleanliness, affordability, and superior taste.

Top 9 Food Cart Franchise Opportunities (Ranked starting from the cheapest)

Before giving you the updated list that would hint your next business franchise venture, here are some terms you should be knowledgeable of:

Payback period – the length of time that would recover your initial investment.

For example, your initial investment for Siomai King amounted to P150,000. For a year, your monthly income amounted to P12, 500.

P12,500 x 12 months = P150,000.

Your investment was recovered in a year. The faster the payback period, the better. However, also consider inflation. The money you initially invested may not have the same value in the future.

For this list, the capital ranges from P50,000 to P250,000!

For your convenience, relevant information such as contact details is provided. Here are the franchise businesses leading the pack in terms of minimal investment:

1. Burger Matsing Franchise

Burger Matsing
From Burger Matsing FB Page
  • Minimum initial investment: PHP 50,000
  • Package inclusions: Franchise fee, franchisee and crew training, online ordering system, operations and marketing support, etc. (Excluded: Store construction cost, equipment, and initial inventory)
  • Contact information: / 0945-3456957 / 0939-8775810 / 0943-8700283

Yes, for only P50,000, your goal of a food cart business can be at the palm of your hands. With proper management, this can be as easy as pie.

2. Star Frappe’ Food Cart Franchise

Image for illustration purposes only
  • Minimum initial investment: PHP 99,000
  • Package inclusions: Trade name use, food cart, equipment, crew uniform, initial products worth PHP 3,000, franchisee and crew training, and after-sales support
  • Contract term: 1 year (renewable without a fee)
  • Average payback period: 3 to 4 months
  • Minimum space requirement: 6.25 sqm
  • Contact information:

Your investment is already recovered in a short period! You will then start earning profit in your 5th month of operations. Be completely aware of your franchisor’s terms regarding royalty and franchise fees.

3. Boy Kanin Food Cart, Kiosk, Dine-in Counter, or In-line Store

Boy Kanin Food cart business
  • Initial investment:
    a. Kiosk: PHP 149,000
    b. Dine-in counter: PHP 199,000
    c. Small in-line store: PHP 249,000
    d. Big in-line store: PHP 299,000
    e. Food cart: PHP 299,000
  • Package inclusions: Franchise fee, trademark use, initial stocks, franchisee and crew training, marketing support, opening assistance, crew uniform, cart, equipment, etc. (Excluded from the kiosk, dine-in, and in-line store packages: Construction cost, equipment, and marketing materials)
  • Contract term: 3 years
  • Space requirement: 4 sqm (Kiosk/food cart) / 15 to 20 sqm (Dine-in) / 30 to 50 sqm (Small in-line) / 60 to 100 sqm (Big in-line)
  • Contact information: / 352-8130 / 0917-3443472 / 0923-6831409

4. Hong Kong Style Fried Noodles & Dimsum Food Cart Franchise

  • Initial investment: PHP 150,000
  • Package inclusions: Food cart, equipment, utensils, small wares, initial product, training, pre-opening and opening assistance, crew uniform, and marketing materials
  • Space requirement: 4 sqm
  • Contact information: 343-0536 / 0917-5000772 / 0922-8307611

5. Siomai King Food Cart Franchise

Siomai food cart business
Image for illustration purposes only
  • Initial investment: PHP 168,888
  • Package inclusions: Security deposit worth PHP 40,000, trade name and logo use, food cart, equipment, utensils, food tasting products worth PHP 1,000, training, operations manual, opening assistance, marketing materials, etc.
  • Contact information: / 889-4773 to 76 / 0918-8JCFRAN (523786)

As part of the new normal, Siomai King allows online franchising. Even when on lockdown, you can launch your food cart business.

You can be a franchisee in the comfort of your home. If you’re interested, click for full details.

6. Potato Corner

  • Minimum initial investment:
  • Food cart: PHP 200,000
  • Kiosk: PHP 400,000
  • In-line store: PHP 500,000
  • Package inclusions: Franchise fee, food cart, franchisee and crew training, equipment, small wares, and initial supplies
  • Average payback period: 1.5 years
  • Contact information: / 534-5845 / 534-5846

7. Mister Donut Food Cart, Take-out Booth, or Dine-in Shop

  • Minimum initial investment:
    a. Food cart: PHP 200,000
    b. Take-out booth: PHP 400,000
    c. Dine-in shop: PHP 650,000
  • Package inclusions: Food cart, equipment, small wares, POS tablet, and crew uniform (Excluded: PHP 50,000 franchise fee)
  • Contract term: 2 years (renewable for another two years at PHP 50,000)
  • Average payback period: 8 months (cart) / One to two years (dine-in)
  • Minimum space requirement: 1.35m x 2.16m (Cart) / 6 to 9 sqm (Take-out)
  • Contact information: / 370-1236 / 0917-8896148

8. Waffle Time Food Cart Franchise

Waffles as food cart business
Image for illustration purposes only
  • Initial investment: PHP 250,000
  • Package inclusions: Franchise fee, food cart, equipment, training, and crew uniform (Excluded: PHP 50,000 refundable security deposit)
  • Contract term: 3 years (Renewable for another three years)
  • Average payback period: 6 to 12 months
  • Minimum space requirement: 4 sqm
  • Contact information: / 584-1601 / 584-3704 / 0933-8513968

9. Happy Cup

  • Minimum Initial Investment:
  • Cart – PHP 250,000.00
  • Outlet & Kiosk – PHP 300,000.00 to PHP 350,000.00
  • Area Franchise – PHP 750,000.00
  • Contact Information: / 0917-12345678

Did none of these wake up the entrepreneur in you? To have a full list of food franchises you can venture into, particularly those below P1M of investment, read more

If your budget is specifically below P500,000, here is a compilation under these two categories, click here

Final Note to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

A food cart business can be a root to wonderful opportunities. That cart will be one of your first symbols of success. Hence, acquainting and engaging yourself in the food industry is indeed a wise decision.

However, kickstarting your business can be both intimidating and challenging.

Life isn’t about rainbows and butterflies. Get rid of your “what ifs” and start your business planning process! Be embodied with passion and zeal in the pursuit of your dreams.

There’s a quote that says, “If you have lemons, make a lemonade,” But do you ponder on and reflect on the true meaning of this?  Lemons represent the sourness, the adversities in life, but we shouldn’t settle with its sourness forever but radiate optimism and hope instead.

Let go of the fear that your business will fail. It will only be a failure the moment you didn’t try. Soon, you will reap your big success.

I would like to hear your food cart business journey soon!

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Jerico Saquing

Jerico Saquing

Jerico is the founder of Peso Hacks. He's also a freelance writer who specializes in topics related to finance, travel and games. In his spare time, he likes to watch anime, play mobile games and read books.


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