A catering food mobile concept allows business owners to sell homemade or specific foods from a vehicle on the side of the road. The state of Texas offers mobile caterers options of how they wish to operate the business. While some caterers only operate temporarily, others run a mobile catering business on a full-time basis. All mobile food-service owners must meet all legal requirements in Texas before parking the truck and selling food.
A business license is required for Texas business owners owning a mobile food-service business operating under a fictitious name. A fictitious name is any other name except the owner’s legal name. Sole-proprietor mobile food caterers must register for the business license at the local Texas county clerk office, while larger corporations and limited partnerships must file with the Texas Secretary of State in the county or city where the mobile food service business is situated.
Mobile Food License
In addition to the business license, mobile food-service businesses must apply for a retail food license from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The form required is titled EF23-10859 as of September 2011 and is downloadable on the Texas Department of State Health Services’ website. The form forces business owners to specify what type of roadside food business the owner plans to offer, the license plate and registration number of the vehicle, and details regarding the business structure of the mobile catering business.
The mobile food-service business owner must pay taxes on all income from food sales. If the owner operates as a sole proprietor and operates the business on his own, he can use his Social Security number to file quarterly business taxes. However, a tax ID must be used if filing business taxes for a mobile partnership or corporation or if the business owner hires employees to serve people food on the street.
The business owner may operate the business on the road, but have an office in the private home to order food products, handle invoices and pay bills. Business owners must apply for an occupational permit, if some of the business operations are handled in the private home of the mobile food caterer. In addition, a signage permit is also required, if the owner wants to market and promote the business using signs. Both permits are obtained from the local county building and planning department in Texas.
- SBA.gov: Register your Fictitious or “Doing Business As” (DBA) Name
- IRS.gov: Employer ID Numbers (EINs) – Do You Need an EIN?
- Texas Department of State Health Services: Starting a New Retail Food Establishment Under Department of State Health Services Jurisdiction
- Texas Department of State Health Services: Welcome to the Food Establishments Group
- SBA.gov: Search for Business Licenses and Permits