Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I want to start a mobile food unit – how do I get started?
A: Your first call should be to the environmental health department located in the county where you want to operate your mobile food unit. They will provide all of the information that you need to get a food service permit for your mobile food unit. Obtaining your food service permit will most likely be the most difficult part of your start-up, so it makes sense to begin the process with the health department prior to taking any other steps.
Q: What are the major obstacles to starting a mobile food unit in the metro-area?
A: First, mobile food units are limited to two (2) locations of operation in each county where they are permitted. These locations must be determined at the time of permitting, and can only be changed with permission of the county environmental health department. Additionally, each location must meet certain specifications that are given in the state food service rules (i.e., there must be an accessible bathroom within 150 feet of the location).
Second, mobile food units can be prohibited from carrying raw meat, vegetables, eggs, and seafood. In reality, this means that mobile food units are severely limited in what type of menu they can offer to the public.
Third, mobile food units are required to have a commissary that is owned or operated by the owners of the mobile food unit, and only the owners of the mobile food unit. Two separate entities, that are not contractually related to each other, cannot share kitchen space.
Finally, each municipality in the metro area (and the rest of the state, for that matter) has its own rules/regulations/ordinances that must be adhered to. Typically, these municipal rules/regulations/ordinances govern the locations where mobile food units are allowed to operate.
Q: What about those trucks that I saw at that festival I went to last weekend?
A: Temporary festival vendors have different permitting rules than street vendors; festival vendors are sometimes required to carry a temporary food service permit, but often times no permit is required.
Q: What does the Atlanta Street Food Coalition do?
A: We are a trade association organized to support the efforts of street food vendors of all kinds, throughout the metro-area. Currently, we are actively engaged in efforts to eliminate, or find alternatives for, obstacles that have been created by state and local governmental bodies. Additionally, we provide advice to aspiring vendors and a strong network of people who are already up and operating.