We speak to the founder of Butchies

Street food is booming. Undoubtedly the biggest food movement to hit the UK in decades, street food – from street food markets to pop up restaurants –  is now a central part of our foodie culture. And with the street food market forecast to be worth £1.2bn this year, it’s no surprise more and more people are joining the revolution and setting up their own street food business.

To find out more about what it takes to start up a food truck we got in touch with Garrett Fitzgerald, founder of Butchies – one of London’s leading street food brands and a client of ICON Printing – to share his tips to success.

Butchies was founded in 2013 after FitzGerald and his wife Emer set out to deliver the “ultimate fried chicken sandwich”. He packed in the desk job in 2014 and now operates Butchies full time. The brand has been so successful that, like a number of other leading street food stands, it now operates two permanent sites, with a restaurant on Rivington Street in Shoreditch and another in Fulham – and more to come. He describes starting Butchies as “one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken.”

“I love the food scene in London, I love to cook, I love working for myself and I love the ever-changing nature of the business,” says Fitzgerald. “There are always new opportunities and possibilities presenting themselves and I can honestly say I’ve never been this invigorated or worked this hard in my life. “

How to start a street food business – three tips for success

street food business tips

1. Choose your pitch wisely

Getting the right pitch for your street food stall is fundamental to the success of your business. And the number of pitches has not kept up with the growth of the industry, meaning it could take some time to pin down a pitch in the best markets or events. Particularly when starting out, it’s worth opting for pitches at smaller events. It’s a chance to hone your cooking and once you start to build up some hype (and loyal customers) it will be easier to bag a pitch at the top markets. That said, scrutinise each event carefully – some will simply be worth avoiding.

“The hardest thing about starting your own street food business is getting into the right pitch, event or festival,” says FitzGerald. “There is a lot of competition these days. There are also a lot of awful events and operators out there – choose wisely.”

Want to print t-shirts for your street food truck or restaurant? Get a quote from ICON Printing in 2 minutes online. 

street food business tips

2. Get your core product right

Running a street food business is very different to running a cafe or restaurant. Ideally you want to present one, singular, amazing dish that will resonate immediately with the public and their tastebuds.. Keep it simple and make it as delicious as you possibly can.

“Getting your core product right is key – as is not over complicating it,” says FitzGerald. “Traders that have a real passion for a dish they may have tried on their holiday or from their home country are what gives street food its soul – it’s real street food.”

He adds: “These traders however, know how hard it is to make money from street food these days. The traders that do the best in economic terms are the ones who take a familiar dish the public already loves and make it better.”

street food business tips

3. Get the word out

Building a community around your street food business is crucial to success. You need to build brand familiarity – printing t-shirts or merch can help – as well as foster loyalty from your regular customers – and this takes a discerning eye to how your street food business should be positioned.

“Our brand was build on word of mouth and by selecting the right events and festivals to trade at,” says FitzGerald. “We turned down a lot of offers for event that we knew would be busy but wouldn’t be a good fit for our brand.”

Collaborating with influencers – from foodie Instagram accounts to bloggers and critics – is another important tool to getting the word out. “Social media is key as are social media influencers,” says FitzGerald. “Don’t be afraid to ask them to come try your food – they love most things that are new.”

Want to print merch for your street food business, food truck or restaurant? At ICON Printing we offer fast turnaround printing with a wide-ranging catalogue from t-shirts to caps to bagsGet a quote in 2 minutes online.