Advantages of Gazebos and Stalls
The main reason that traders go for a Gazebo is cost. A brand new durable aluminium gazebo with sufficient fire proofing can cost as little as £500 – £650, making it the most cost effective way of setting up a Mobile Catering business. These days gazebo suppliers are likely to be able to print bespoke designs onto the roof and sides, all of which will help the trader to brand their units so that they stand out from the crowd.
A well designed and branded gazebo often looks better than an old trailer and is cheaper. It can also be around 20 times cheaper than a motorised unit or trailer, but you do have to add your own equipment and safety measures. Unlike food vans or trailers, you have to set them up and pack them up each day, and you will need a van or estate car to carry all of your equipment.
Many gazebo traders swear by the advantages of being at eye level with the customer, and the food being in clear view. This makes it easier for the customer to see the food being cooked, which can be a real bonus, especially if there is a degree of theatre involved in the cooking process.
From Paella to Hog Roasts, the customers like to see what they are getting and this can help you to sell your wares. It is worth noting though, that you can’t hide anything either, so poor food hygiene or a lack of hand washing facilities will be in full public view. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have the right equipment and you deal with the food hygienically and professionally.
Driving Licences & Costs
It is a lot easier and cheaper to store a gazebo, some fold down tables and some basic equipment than it is to store a trailer or catering van. People are far less likely to run off with your gazebo than steal a trailer or van, and if your trailer or van gets stolen, you cannot trade.
Furthermore, if your trailer or van breaks down on the way to a market or event, the chances are you won’t be able to trade or will have to get it towed onto and off site. This can be a nightmare if you are working at events up and down the country. With a gazebo, if your van breaks down, you can always unload it and get another van to site. If you hire vans for specific events and they break down, the hire company should send a replacement.
Many markets are in busy retail areas with market stalls sitting in front of shops. The retailers often pay large rents and significant rates and are not likely to be happy if you turn up with a 20ft trailer which completely covers their shop window.
Market organisers can fit more gazebos or market stalls in a limited space than they can trailers or vans, meaning that they can make more money from the market. For this reason alone you are far more likely to see market stalls used at events with limited space, especially street markets.
There has also been a reaction against the more traditional trailers over the past few years, as some perceive them to sell cheap and cheerful fast food.
You can always scale up a gazebo – you can’t scale up (or down) a van or trailer – so if you need to get into a 3 metre space you can use one gazebo, or to scale up for a show or event, just take a second gazebo!
A gazebo offers a full frontage meaning that you have more space to show off and sell your food than say a hatch from a van or a trailer. Assuming you make the most of it, a larger frontage to sell from can be a key advantage.
Disadvantages of Gazebos and Stalls
Never under estimate the British weather. If you are at a show or event and the rain is coming down in sheets, somehow it seems to come in sideways and the poor folk in gazebos are the ones taking the brunt of it.
Compared to a trailer or van, a gazebo only offers limited protection from the elements and you may curse the day you decided against getting a box on wheels. There are other issues such as hygiene, as rain also causes mud and gazebos only have limited protection against this.
At events like Glastonbury where the mud can be a foot deep and can rise above the gazebo floor you may find you are desperately running around trying to find pallets or anything else to keep the mud at bay rather than preparing or selling food. At outdoor events where the land is used for livestock for the majority of the year, there are also issues of dangerous bacteria in the mud being walked through your kitchen.
A gazebo and a griddle do not make a mobile kitchen. Many start up traders assume that they just need the tent and a few pieces of equipment. In one sense this is correct, but it leads to a tendency for traders to go for their kitchen essentials and not consider the necessary safety precautions.
You need to operate properly and therefore need to purchase additional items to ensure this is the case. It is worth considering the difference in cost between a fully kitted out trailer or van and a gazebo.
You will have to buy all of the equipment for your gazebo kitchen, a water boiler, hand washing, protective flooring, trestle tables, spit guard (Perspex cover for food on front table), skirting for the bottom of the stall, cool boxes… it may well be that a trailer or van is not so expensive when you add up all of the different pieces of equipment you will need.
Food Safety in a gazebo is of paramount importance. It can be harder to implement as you’ve had to set it up every time, but you are still expected to meet certain standards. For example, you should be operating with proper hand washing facilities – many don’t, and this is not acceptable. Getting hold of the right kit is easy.Find out more
Every time you go to a new market you need to set up your gas rig. The amount of times this is not done properly is shocking. At NCASS, we were so worried by the gas setups employed by Street Food traders that we went to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Gas Safe and Corgi to ask for guidelines.
We spent the next 18 months developing a set of guidelines for traders which have now been signed off by the HSE. These measures are designed to protect you and keep you, your staff, fellow traders and the public safe.
There have been at least 20 people hospitalised in the last few years because they did not follow basic gas safety. A brand new gas rig, including fitting and a gas certificate, only costs around £300.Visit our Gas Safety Hub
Even the best made gazebos are only likely to offer a couple of years service before they start to give up the ghost. All of the packing and unpacking, the weather and accidents in the kitchen can all put paid to your gazebo. They are unlikely to have the staying power of a trailer or food truck.
Time Setting Up & Taking Down
Setting up and taking down a gazebo is going to take time, and as a trader, time is one commodity you have very little of. When you’re not trading you will want to be at home in the warm rather than setting up and taking down a gazebo, but it will take you at at least 30 minutes each time. That might not sound a lot but that’s an hour more every day than a motorised van!