Where are you located?
See our schedule here.
How do you start a food bike business?
A coarse outline:
If you look at our regulations page, we have some links and info about what we did to change the City of Sacramento ordinances to make food bikes legal, so you don't need to do that anymore.
Decide how you will be a business. The IRS recognizes five types of businesses: (1) sole proprietorship, (2) partnership, (3) C corporation, (4) S corporation, and (5) limited liability company or LLC.
Choose a business name. If it's not your own personal name (most likely), then register it at the County as a "Fictitious Business Name" here. A bank requires that for opening a business bank account.
Next up is a "health permit". This is an important one related to prevent food-borne ilnesses, amongst others. Study the CalCode line by line, word by word, as far as applicable for your business, especially Chapter 10, so you can communicate effectively with the County as described next.
For the health permit, determine if it is allowed to use your home kitchen according to the the Cottage Food Program. If not, you need a commissary to prepare your food.
Next, buy or build a food bike that satisfies the CalCode rules. Contact the County for possible questions about how to apply the law in your engineering solutions. For example, a coffee bike that may or may not satisfy sthe CalCode can be found at wheelyscafe.com.
Once you have your food vending vehicle, *first* you need to get a "health permit" (state requirement, enforced by the county) at the County Environmental Management Department (EMD; in other counties sometimes called the "County Health Department") before the City for the vending permit.
County of Sacramento:
- Sacramento County EMD general info
- Sacramento County EMD Mobile Food Facilities - forms page
- Sacramento County EMD - Mobile food Facilities Application Packet PDF
Next, get liability insurance as discussed here.
Next, apply with the City: Get a "Business Operations Tax Account" from the City of Sacramento here. This serves as a "business license".
The online application (under "MOBILE FOOD") for the City makes it easier to avoid one trip to the City. It may still have some bugs, like asking you to upload a driving license which of course is not applicable to a bike, so just upload any empty PDF to be able to continue.
After applying online, go to City Hall a day or two after they've received your application, because you will have to get fingerprinted for the background check once they have your application.
Get a State seller's permit here for the Sales Tax, even if Sales Tax does not apply to your product, e.g. a baked good under certain conditions.