The Path of the Food Truck

Success comes with risk and challenges.


Rosman Hussin, the 35-year-old proud owner of Humble Chef is among the hundreds of food-truck operators, which have sprung up like mushrooms in the last few years. However, Rosman is no novice. He started in 2007, well before the food truck concept became a fad.

Selling kebab from the back of a truck in front of the Inland Revenue Board office in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, he has a group of readily available government officers hungry for options during their lunch break.

“Ninety percent of entrepreneurs who are jumping into the bandwagon will be successful if they are doing it the right way,” said Rosman.

“You basically get the truck and you can do whatever you want with it. You also face fewer problems with overhead costs, rental and other expenses. The best thing is — you can change your location every day,” he said.

Less Financial Risk

The restaurant business may seem lucrative, but it is certainly not for everyone. High setup costs, rentals, overheads and keeping a pool of happy chefs are some of the challenges.

Food truck, however, skips many of these financial headaches. The failure rate of cooking and serving the dish from the back of a truck is also lower.

Cowboys Food Truck co-founder Ku Azharul Nizar Ku Abdul Rahman said it was easier to start an F&B business with the food truck than a restaurant.

“The risk is less because you don’t need the kind of capital like when you open a restaurant. You can also determine the locations to operate. For a restaurant, you only have one chance to get it right,” said Ku Azharul Nizar.

Cook for the Right Reasons

Ku Azharul Nizar said in doing a business — like anything else in life — one must not simply follow the “successful people”, but must do the things that they know best.

“Don’t just open a food truck because it is the trend, or because everyone is doing it. Create your own signature to get regular and loyal customers,” Ku Azharul Nizar.

A large part of the business remains challenging. Food-truck operators faces difficulty on licensing. Some had been slapped with summons and their trucks towed away.

Rental for popular food-truck hangouts is also rising, putting a strain for these chefs on wheels.

“Operating food truck is not a glamourous job at all. We need to get the right spot and getting one when we first started years back was not as easy as now,” said Little Fat Duck co-founder Adel Ishak.

Adel said many food-truck operators failed because they were not hands-on.

“We had to do everything ourselves when we first started. We hardly get time to rest. We do the cleaning and cooking during the day, and sell the food at night.

“We had to deal with all the problems by ourselves. So, we know the challenges in operating a food truck. But some new-comers in the industry nowadays just become the ‘boss’ and hire people,” Adel said.

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