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How to Start a

Burger or Hot Dog Business

Paying homage to the Kings of Steet Food

About the business

Burgers and Hot Dogs are established favourites in both the fast food and mobile catering industries, with their affordability and versatility being key to their success. Second only to Coca-Cola, the hot dog and hamburger are America's most famous food exports and have enjoyed widespread success across the globe. In 2013, three of the top ten fast food chains in the USA were burger restaurants; whilst Britain's taste for burgers continues to grow - the UK burger market is now valued at more than £3bn.

Advantages of running a burger or hotdog business:

1) Street food classics

Street food events are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of food offerings, which is great news for foodies and caterers with a passion for doing something a little different! However, the mighty burger and hot dog are yet to be defeated in terms of popularity and are a staple at street food events the world over. In fact, the UK burger market is enjoying wide spread growth, with an increasing number of burger restaurants opening throughout the UK and beyond. Their unwavering popularity also ensures that the less adventurous amongst us, go home feeling satisfied with the bao and burrito diners alike - all thanks to you!

2) Versatile

Burgers and hot dogs were once the staple of the fast food purveyor, but no longer. The number of restaurants and mobile vendors selling gourmet versions of these old classics, have surged in recent years to the delight of many. Fixed site restaurants such as Handmade Burger, Five Guys and Shake Shack have inspired a new, discernible burger customer looking for wallet friendly, flavourful street eats! This means that hot dog and burger vendors must no longer prescribe to an overworked formula and are free to let their creative juices flow. Quite literally.

3) Affordable

Burgers and hot dogs remain an affordable business venture for mobile caterers, not least because their popularity with customers ensures good profit margins. It is also possible to pre-cook both burgers and hot dogs which offers various advantages - not only does it ensure that you can meet customers' needs in periods of high demand, thus reducing the chance of unhappy punters wandering off to your nearest competitor; it also means that you do not require high skilled workers (should you need all hands on deck) to cook and serve punters - experienced staff solicit higher wages, which potentially compromises revenue.

 Disadvantages of running a burger or hot dog business


1) Food scares

In recent decades, there have been three substantial health and safety scares surrounding beef in the UK. BSE, Foot and Mouth disease and most recently, the horse meat scandal, have all compromised consumer confidence surrounding burgers and similar food types and have inevitably reformed the way burgers are produced, sold and eaten.

2) Reputation

In the late 1990s, awareness surrounding the dangers of fast food finally began to permeate with consumers. Scientific research about the dangers of obesity was augmented by documentaries such as 'Super Size Me' and 'Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead' which received wide spread media coverage. Food types which have long been systemically seen as fast food, such as burgers and hot dogs became vilified and larger brands were forced to reform their menus. However, the gourmet burger trend sought to change the long held perception that burgers have no nutritional value and as such the trend for high quality meat, buns and fresh toppings soared. Many traders now offer 'bunless' burgers to accommodate health conscious customers seeking high protein, low carb meals.

3) Competition

Whilst the gourmet trend has succeeded in increasing the nation's appetite for a great burger, this has also led to greater competition - not only from fellow mobile caterers but also from an increasing number of fixed site restaurants dedicated to the food type. Competition inevitably means that securing your position at events can be difficult, whilst competition with likeminded vendors can be fierce once you get in! This isn't all bad news for vendors though - it provides you with the perfect opportunity to get creative!

Providing Caterers with the 

Information, Systems & Support

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Safe, Legal & Profitable             link              > Find out more

What To Think About

think about


Is Mobile Catering for you?

Many people are drawn to mobile catering as the result of their passion for food and the desire to be their own boss. There's no doubt that it's a brilliant industry to work in but there is a lot to consider - don't jump in without having given it some real thought. In doubt as to whether its for you? Simply click the link below for further help:

> Is Mobile Catering for you?


The most popular premises for mobile caterers are illustrated below, it is important to consider the cost implications for whichever option you choose. Motorised Vans for example are going to absorb a large chunk of your intitial set up costs, whilst gazebos will likely be a fraction of the price - See below:

 Motorised Food Van  Towed Catering Trailer Stall or Gazebo
Food Cart 

Your Equipment

Gas safety certificate

If it hasn’t got the CE label, do not buy it. The CE label is a legal requirement for a Gas Safety Certificate - if your equipment doesn't have this label, then you're not operating legally. Always buy your equipment from a reputable source and be extra vigilant if sourcing your equipment from abroad as there are counterfeit CE products on the market. Please refer to the NCASS Equipment website for further information or to purchase quality, CE verified equipment.

Event Organisers will always request to see your Gas Safety certificate - failure to show your certificate will mean you are unable to trade. If you trade at small private functions without approved equipment and a gas safety certificate, you run the risk of getting in to hot water with insurance companies and more importantly, the law.

Location, location, location

Where to trade

Where you trade is critical to success - with the most popular and likely profitable options listed below. You can also find more information in our Get Profitable section.

Shows & Events

From village Fetes to week long music Festivals
> Read More


Street Food, Farmers Markets, Car Boot Sales
> Read More


Lay-by's, Car Parks & Industrial Estates
> Read More


How to Operate Legally

Notwithstanding your motivation for entering the mobile catering business, once you declare yourself a 'professional caterer' there are legal guidelines which you must follow as to not put yourself, your business, your staff and your customers at risk. Our Get Legal section is there to help ensure your compliance at all times.


Liability Insurance is a  legal requirement for all mobile caterers and will cover you in all eventualities. Take a look at our Insurance section for more information.


Pricing your food is a huge decision and there are several considerations such as the wholesale price of your product, whether it is locally sourced, etc. Food and drink prices are often exorbitantly higher at shows and events than they are on a roadside; however certain businesses are invariably less suited to a roadside location - whilst the fees which vendors pay to event organisers at shows and events are often factored in to food prices.

How to Succeed

Research, research and even more research

Research is critical to success in the mobile catering industry, especially if you've never traded as a caterer before. This site will aide your preliminary research, but for a more in depth look at everything you'll need to operate safely, legally and profitably see The Complete Guide to Profitable Catering. For more information > Click here  

Have a Support System in place

Perhaps we're biased, but we think that being an NCASS member is a sure fire way to make sure that you're getting the support which is so critical to success in the field. Being an NCASS member ensures that there's always someone friendly at the end of the phone with a wealth of advice that they're just dying to share!


Have lots of Determination

Determination is the main difference between success and failure in the mobile catering industry. Are you prepared to get up at 5am in the depths of winter to source produce, pre-cook or travel miles to an event? If not, then chances are you're not going to succeed in the mobile catering industry.


Want to know more?

Read the book

Profitable Catering

> Click here

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Become a member

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