Start a Food Truck Business in Wisconsin | Essential Steps

Wisconsin Food Truck Business

Starting an LLC in Wisconsin can be exciting and challenging, especially if you form a food truck business. As food trucks continue to rise in popularity nationwide, standing at the helm of your mobile eatery offers a unique opportunity to capitalize on this booming industry. From understanding local regulations to crafting an enticing menu, it’s a business endeavor that requires passion, diligence and a knack for culinary excellence. This comprehensive guide will provide the information and resources you need to Start a Food Truck Business in Wisconsin.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you understand the process. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Food Truck Business?

A food truck business in Wisconsin is a mobile food service operation that sells prepared food from a vehicle, typically a truck or van. Food trucks have become increasingly popular in Wisconsin due to their flexibility, affordability, and ability to serve various cuisines and customers. Food truck businesses in Wisconsin must comply with local regulations and obtain the necessary permits and licenses to operate safely and legally. They must also invest in high-quality equipment, hire and train a skilled team, and market their business effectively to attract and retain customers.

Successful food truck businesses in Wisconsin offer creative, delicious, and affordable menu items. They often participate in local events, festivals, and markets to build their brand and reach a wider audience. If you want to start an LLC for your food truck business, consider the Best LLC Services in Wisconsin.

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It is recommended that you consult with a legal professional before starting a food truck business. They will know what is best for you and your future company. You can always form an LLC to protect your personal assets from business debts.


Steps to Starting a Food Truck Business in Wisconsin

To launch Wisconsin food truck business, you must follow the guidelines that include researching of local market and competition, developing a business plan, obtaining the necessary license and permit, securing funding, choosing and outfitting your food truck, hiring and training your team, launching your food truck, and lastly, maintaining your food truck business.

Step 1: Research the Local Market and Competition

Before you dive into the food truck business, it’s essential to understand the local market and competition. Spend time researching the types of food trucks and cuisines already available in your area, and identify any gaps or niches that your food truck could fill.

Additionally, consider the demographics of your target customers and the best locations to serve them. It is better to know that there are currently 5,955,737 people (2024 data) in Wisconsin. Are specific events, neighborhoods, or business districts attracting many potential customers? Use this information to help shape your food truck concept, menu, and marketing strategy.

Step 2: Develop a Business Plan

A solid business plan is crucial for any new business, and a food truck is no exception. Your business plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of your food truck concept, target market, and goals.
  • Company Description: The legal structure of your business, ownership information, and long-term vision.
  • Market Analysis: A detailed look at the food truck industry in Wisconsin, your target market, and competition.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: How you plan to promote your food truck and attract customers.
  • Menu and Pricing: The specific dishes you plan to serve, their ingredients, and pricing information.
  • Operations Plan: Information on your food truck’s daily operations, including staffing, hours of operation, and supply chain management.
  • Financial projections: A detailed breakdown of your startup costs, ongoing expenses, and revenue projections.

Step 3: Register Your Food Truck Business

Before you can start your food truck business in Wisconsin, you will need to register your business with the Wisconsin Secretary of State. Here are the necessary steps to register your Wisconsin food truck business:

Name Your Food Truck Business

Selecting a name for your Wisconsin food truck business is essential to the formation process. There is a complete guide on Wisconsin Business Name Search for you to have a proper Wisconsin food truck business name. 

In Wisconsin, if you do not wish to file your food truck business right away but want to hold the name that you have decided on, then you can reserve your food truck business name for 120 days. You must file a name reservation application with Wisconsin Secretary of State to keep the name. 

You can also register your business under a different legal name if your preferred name isn’t available.  Once you have chosen a name, you can submit an application for the Wisconsin DBA (doing business as). However, before filing a DBA, you should know that you need to renew your DBA every ten years, which costs $15.

You can check the availability of your desired business name by searching the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions‘s website.

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Appoint a Registered Agent

A Registered Agent is a person or entity responsible for receiving legal documents and official notices on behalf of your Wisconsin food truck business. In Wisconsin, your Registered Agent must:

  • Be a resident of Wisconsin or a business entity authorized to do business.
  • Have a physical address in Wisconsin (P.O. boxes are not acceptable)

Choosing a reliable and responsible Registered Agent is essential, as failure to receive and respond to legal documents can seriously affect your business. 

You can serve as your Registered Agent, appoint a friend or family member, or hire the Best Wisconsin Registered Agent Services.

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File For Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation

If you form an LLC for your food truck business, you must file the Wisconsin Articles of Organization, which costs $130. However, if you form Wisconsin Corporation for your food truck business, you must file the Articles of Incorporation. The Articles of Incorporation filing fee costs $100 for online and by mail filing.

It is important to provide accurate and complete information on this document, as errors or omissions may result in delays or rejection of your filing.

  • Online Filing: Create an account/Log in to the SOS site, get the e-form, fill it, and submit online. Or get the online PDF, fill it up and upload it back on the site.  
  • Offline Filing: Send the form by mail to State of WI – Dept. of Financial Institutions, P.O. Box 93348, Milwaukee, WI 53293

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Create an Operating Agreement

Creating an operating agreement in Wisconsin is an important document containing your company’s organizational details. It is optional to draft an operating agreement in most states. Yet, having one as an internal document is strongly advised. It includes the following;

  • About Business
  • Members and management
  • Capital contribution
  • Profit Distribution
  • Change of membership
  • Dissolution

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Obtain an Employer Identification Number

You must first obtain an Employer identification number (EIN) in Wisconsin from the IRS if you will open a business bank account or hire an employee for your food truck business. 

The application of an EIN in Wisconsin can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

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Step 4: Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Starting a food truck business in Wisconsin requires several licenses and permits. These may vary depending on your city or county, so check with your local government for the most accurate information. However, some of the most common licenses and permits you’ll need include the following:

  • Health Permit: A permit from your local health department that certifies your food truck meets all health and safety requirements for food service.
  • Food Safety Certification: In Wisconsin, at least one person on your team must have a valid food safety certification to ensure proper food handling and sanitation practices.
  • Mobile Food Facility (MFF) Permit: This permit, issued by your city or county, allows you to operate a food truck within their jurisdiction.
  • Wisconsin Sales Tax Permit: A permit from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that allows you to collect and remit sales tax on the food you sell.
  • Fire Safety Inspection: Depending on your local regulations, your food truck may need to pass a fire safety inspection before you can begin operating.
  • Zoning and Parking Permits: Some cities and counties have specific zoning and parking regulations for food trucks. Be sure to research these requirements and obtain any necessary permits.
  • Business License: Your local city or county government may require a business license. In Wisconsin, the business license fee costs $50 – $300. If you want to know the process of getting a business license, you can check out “How to Get a Business License in Wisconsin.”

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Step 5: Secure Funding

Starting a food truck business in Wisconsin can be expensive, with startup costs ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 or more, depending on the size and complexity of your operation. You may need to secure funding from various sources to cover these costs.

You can borrow from different banks, credit unions, and online lenders to start a food truck business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) also offers loan programs for small businesses, including food trucks.

However, consider planning to apply for Wisconsin Small Business Loans for your food truck business.

Step 6: Choose and Outfit Your Food Truck

Once you have a clear vision for your food truck and the necessary funding, it’s time to find the perfect vehicle for your business. Consider factors like size, layout, and equipment when choosing a food truck, as well as your budget and the specific needs of your menu.

You can purchase a new or used food truck or lease one, depending on your financial situation and preferences. When outfitting your truck, invest in high-quality, durable equipment and comply with all local health and safety regulations.

Step 7: Hire and Train Your Team

A successful food truck relies on a dedicated team of employees who can efficiently prepare and serve food, interact with customers, and maintain a clean and organized workspace. When hiring staff for your food truck, look for candidates with relevant experience, strong work ethic, and excellent customer service skills.

Once you’ve assembled your team, provide thorough training on your menu, food safety procedures, and customer service expectations. Your employees are the face of your business, so they must represent your brand well and deliver a positive experience for your customers.

Step 8: Launch and Market Your Food Truck Business

With your food truck outfitted, permits obtained, and the team in place, it’s time to launch your Wisconsin business. Choose a strategic location for your first day of operation, such as a popular event, a busy street, or a neighborhood with limited dining options.

To generate excitement and attract customers in Wisconsin, specifically in Madison, invest in marketing efforts, both online and offline. Create a website and social media accounts for your food truck, and post regular updates about your menu, location, and special promotions. Use eye-catching signage, flyers, and even branded merchandise to spread the word about your business.

Consider partnering with local businesses, attending community events, and participating in food truck festivals to increase your visibility and build a loyal customer base.

Step 9: Maintain Your Food Truck Business

Once your food truck is up and running, focus on maintaining high-quality food and service, and look for opportunities to grow your business. Continually evaluate your menu and pricing, adjusting based on customer feedback, food costs, and market trends.

Seek new locations, events, and partnerships to expand your reach and attract new customers. Consider offering catering services or expanding to additional food trucks as your business grows and becomes more profitable.

Benefits of a Food Truck Business

Starting a food truck business in Wisconsin has become an increasingly popular choice among entrepreneurs, and for a good reason. The benefits of running a food truck are numerous, and they offer a great opportunity for those who want to dive into the food industry without the costs and restraints commonly associated with traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. Here are the lists of benefits that you should consider.

  • Low Initial Investment and Overhead Costs: One of the main benefits of starting a food truck business is that it requires significantly lower initial capital and overhead expenses compared to a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. Food trucks require a smaller space, less labor, and fewer resources, making it more affordable to launch a new culinary concept or enter the market for the first time. This particularly appeals to aspiring business owners who may not have the funding for a full-sized restaurant but still want to pursue their passion for food.
  • Mobility and Flexibility: Another major advantage of running a food truck business is the flexibility of having a mobile kitchen. Food trucks can easily change locations to cater events, seek out new customers, or relocate to more profitable areas. This flexibility allows food truck owners to adapt their menu and marketing strategy based on local tastes, trends, and seasonal demand. They can also quickly respond to changes in the market, making their business more resilient to economic fluctuations.
  • Greater Creativity and Experimentation: The food truck industry is known for its creativity and diversity, with chefs experimenting with unique and innovative dishes that may not be as easily accepted in traditional culinary establishments. A food truck business allows entrepreneurs to test new recipes, culinary concepts, and fusion cuisine styles without major financial risks. If a particular dish is not well-received or profitable, the food truck operator can easily tweak and adjust the menu to better suit the tastes of their clientele.
  • Faster Expansion Opportunities: With reduced start-up and operating expenses, food truck businesses often have the advantage of expanding and scaling their operations more rapidly than traditional restaurants. A food truck owner can invest the profits generated from one successful truck in purchasing and launching additional mobile units, effectively increasing their market share and potential for revenue growth. Working with multiple trucks also allows food truck operators more opportunities to establish their brand presence in various locations simultaneously.
  • Catering and Event Services: Food trucks are perfectly designed for catering events, festivals, and private parties, offering food truck owners an additional revenue stream. With their mobile kitchens, food truck owners can take their business directly to the client’s location, providing a unique and convenient dining experience that is both memorable and versatile. This can help food truck operators develop strong word-of-mouth advertising and generate repeat business from loyal customers.
  • Direct Customer Interaction: Unlike traditional restaurant owners, food truck operators can interact directly with customers and build personal connections with diners. This can help foster customer loyalty and create a strong community following. Additionally, this direct feedback from customers can be invaluable for product development and improvement, allowing food truck owners to adjust their offerings and expand their culinary horizons based on their clientele’s preferences.
  • Social Media-Friendly Business: The food truck industry has embraced the power of social media, allowing owners to market and promote their businesses more effectively and affordably than ever before. With food truck culture becoming increasingly popular and mainstream, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have become essential tools for driving awareness, attracting new customers, and updating patrons on the truck’s location. The mobile nature of a food truck makes it inherently shareable and visually appealing, allowing operators to build strong online visibility and continuously engage with their audience.

Starting a food truck business has many potential benefits for entrepreneurs looking to enter the food industry. With lower costs, greater mobility, and the opportunity for more experimentation and creativity, food truck operations provide an attractive and viable alternative to traditional restaurant investments.


How do I obtain a food truck license in Wisconsin?
You must apply for a license through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Do I need a separate license for each city or county I plan to operate in?
Yes, each city or county may have their own licensing requirements.
What kind of vehicle can be used as a food truck in Wisconsin?
Any vehicle that meets Wisconsin’s Department of Motor Vehicles standards for commercial use and can pass food-grade inspection standards.
Can I park my food truck on any public street in Wisconsin?
No, parking laws can differ by city and county. You must check with local authorities to make sure you are in compliance.
Do I need a business plan to start a food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, it is highly recommended to have a detailed business plan as it can help secure funding and map out your business’s objectives.
What types of food can I serve from a food truck in Wisconsin?
You can serve any safe and non-potentially hazardous food that meets Wisconsin food standards.
Do I need a special certification to prepare and serve food from a food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, you need to be certified by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Can I use a propane tank on my food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can use propane as a fuel source for your food truck, but safety regulation should always be followed.
Is there a limit on how many food trucks can operate in a single Wisconsin location?
Yes, this differs by city and county and it may have a limit on the number of vendors that can operate in a given location.
Can I serve alcohol from my food truck in Wisconsin?
No, the state of Wisconsin does not currently allow alcohol to be served from food trucks.
Do I need a commercial kitchen to operate a food truck in Wisconsin?
No, but you need to have access to a commissary kitchen for prep and maintenance of your food truck.
How do I find a commissary kitchen in Wisconsin?
You can search online for commissary kitchens in your area or network with other food truck vendors to locate available kitchen options.
Can I play music from my food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, as long as the sound does not disturb the surrounding residents.
How much does it cost to start a food truck in Wisconsin?
It varies from business to business, but typical startup costs may range from $20,000 to over $100,000.
Do I need to list the calorie information for my menu items in Wisconsin?
No, calorie disclosure is not currently mandatory in Wisconsin.
How do I get a permit to serve at public events such as fairs and festivals?
You need to apply for event permits through the organizing agency.
Can I sell pre-packaged food from my food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, pre-packaged foods with appropriate labeling can be sold.
How can I collect sales tax from my food truck in Wisconsin?
You must apply for a Wisconsin state seller’s permit through the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Can I park my food truck on my private property in Wisconsin?
Yes, if it’s in compliance with zoning regulations.
Is it mandatory to have a business structure, such as LLC or corporation to start a food truck in Wisconsin?
No, it is not required, but it is recommended.
Can I prepare food in my home kitchen and sell it from my food truck in Wisconsin?
No, you need to prepare your food in an approved commercial kitchen.
How can I advertise my food truck business in Wisconsin?
You can rely on social media marketing or distribute flyers and brochures in highly populated areas.
Do I need a separate insurance policy for my food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, you need to get commercial auto insurance and general liability insurance tailored for the food truck business.
Are there any grants or financing options available to start a food truck business in Wisconsin?
You might be eligible for some Business grants opportunity provided by Small Business Development Centers in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Can I hire employees for my Wisconsin-based food truck?
Yes, you must follow Wisconsin’s employment law standard when hiring employees.
Do I have to shut down my food truck during Wisconsin Winter?
No, you might want to pack up during cold weather, knowing safe driving conditions, maintenance, and safety can still keep operations going.
Where do I find reputable food truck vendors in Wisconsin who can offer equipment or appliances service?
Online directories (such as Roaming Hunger), networking with other food truck vendors in Wisconsin, relying on online reviews, and pool of local suppliers are the best ways to find reliable resources in Wisconsin.
What kind of permits required to have a food truck in Wisconsin farmers markets?
Usually, it’s with health department permitting authorities. You need to offer information on a vendor/producer’s three sets of permits/licenses such as hygiene, business licensing, and zoning agreement licenses.
What licenses are required to start a food truck business in Wisconsin?
You need a general business license, food service permit, and a mobile food vending license.
How much does it cost to start a food truck business in Wisconsin?
Costs can vary, but expect to spend between $50,000-$150,000.
Do I need a commercial kitchen to start my food truck business?
Yes, but if you have a commissary agreement, you can rent a kitchen space to use instead.
How can I find a commissary kitchen for my food truck?
Look online for shared commercial kitchens or reach out to local restaurants.
What makes Wisconsin a good location for a food truck business?
Wisconsin has a thriving food truck scene, low business taxes, and supportive local communities.
Are food truck businesses required to have a health department inspection in Wisconsin?
Yes, food trucks must be inspected by the local health department.
Can I sell alcohol from my food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, but you’ll need a seller’s permit from the state of Wisconsin.
How many employees do I need to start a food truck?
It depends on how large your operation is and the amount of food that you plan on serving.
What types of food are popular in Wisconsin food truck scene?
Tacos, burgers, brats, and specialty sandwiches are popular.
Can I park my food truck anywhere in Wisconsin?
No, you must follow local laws and regulations about where to park your food truck.
What do I need to know about obtaining insurance for my food truck business in Wisconsin?
You’ll need general liability insurance, commercial auto insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance.
Can I serve food outside of Wisconsin with my food truck business?
Yes, as long as you comply with the rules and regulations of the state or city you operate in.
Is it harder to start a food truck business in a rural area of Wisconsin?
It can be harder because there may be less demand for food trucks in rural areas.
Do I need to have a specific type of business structure to start a food truck in Wisconsin?
No, you can operate as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or corporation.
Are there any restrictions for the types of ingredients I can use in my food truck in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can’t use raw or undercooked meats and it is important to follow food safety guidelines at all times.
How can I market my food truck business in Wisconsin?
Social media, handing out fliers, and attending local food truck festivals are great marketing strategies.
How can I differentiate my food truck business from others operating in Wisconsin?
Offer a unique menu, use local ingredients, and have a memorable brand or logo.
How do I determine the price for my food items on my food truck menu?
Factor in food costs, ingredient prices, truck and equipment expenses, and employee salary in determining a fair price.
Can I receive financing for my food truck business in Wisconsin?
Yes, you can look into commercial loans, SBA loans, or crowdfunding opportunities.
When is the best time of year to start a food truck business in Wisconsin?
Summer and fall are the busiest seasons for food trucks in Wisconsin.
Can I sell locally brewed beer from my Wisconsin food truck?
Yes, but you’ll need a permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Can I operate my food truck business without a set location everyday?
Yes, but you’ll need a permit from each locality you operate a sales stand in.
Do I need to file for taxes for my food truck business in Wisconsin?
Yes, make sure you comply with state and federal tax laws for your business.
Can I donate leftover food from my food truck business in Wisconsin?
Yes, check with local food banks or charities to arrange a donation.
What permits do I need for transportation if I own a Wisconsin food truck business?
You may need to acquire a commercial driver’s license if your food truck is over a certain weight or size.
What is the penalty for not having the correct licenses and permits in Wisconsin?
Fines and legal action may occur as penalties for noncompliance in regard to a food truck business in Wisconsin.
Do I need to collect sales tax for my food truck business in Wisconsin?
Yes, the state of Wisconsin requires all businesses to collect sales tax.
Can I hire employees for my food truck business in Wisconsin?
Yes, after obtaining the appropriate permits and fulfilling employer responsibilities.
How can I find guidance or consulting services for my Wisconsin food truck business?
Look online for local resources related to the food truck business or licensing and regulation in your area.

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Starting a food truck business in Wisconsin can be rewarding and profitable, but it requires careful planning, hard work, and perseverance. By following this comprehensive guide and staying informed about local regulations and industry trends, you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful food truck in the vibrant Wisconsin food scene. So go ahead, turn your culinary dreams into reality, and bring your unique flavors and dishes to the streets of Wisconsin.

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