Taking courses on running a successful food truck was a last minute decision for one Tri-City man.
Rex Richmond was visiting the Pasco Specialty Kitchen to take a look at their facilities when he learned about Mobile Vending University. Curious, he signed up.
“It was doing research into the possibilities that were out there,” he said.
Richmond hasn’t launched a food truck of his own, but he said he’s glad he took the courses this past summer, as it gave him the option to expand his skills and abilities when it came to a food-related business.
Organizers are bringing the program back in mid-January with some improvements. They are planning to increase the number of participants to 20. They’re also using a partnership with Columbia Basin College in Pasco to offer continuing education certification, which could be an asset for those seeking a bank loan.
“I already have six to seven people interested,” said Marilou Shea, the program’s creator and director of the Pasco Specialty Kitchen, a component of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority.
Mobile Vending University was first offered this past summer, attracting 14 students connected to nine different businesses. The program covered the basics of operating a food truck, from finding a vehicle to making sure owners secure all the necessary licenses and permits.
High interest in the training as well as positive feedback from participants, combined with an ulterior motive to create new food options for the popular Food Truck Friday event in downtown Pasco, prompted Shea to offer the program again. Officials with state and city agencies, as well as other food truck operators, have lined up to teach the five-course program.
But Shea said she wanted to add more value to the courses. That’s where CBC comes in. It will offer those who complete the program a continuing education certification.
“As a community college, we believe that anything we can do to educate and engage the community with an end goal of contributing to the economy is worthwhile,” said Michelle Mann, director of CBC’s Worker Retraining program, in a release.
The certificate won’t be for college credit, and CBC is not an accredited institution when it comes to the culinary arts. But Shea said that isn’t necessarily what potential food truck operators want.
“It’s just about the skills (of running a business),” she said, noting that banks providing loans look not only for a sound business plan but evidence the owner has taken steps to acquire new skills to run a successful operation.
And to those considering the program as a means to launching their own food truck, Shea offers this advice: find your niche.
“Don’t just be another hamburger truck,” she said.
Mobile Vending University
What: Five-part educational series for those interested in mobile vending businesses such as food trucks. Will cover operations, financing, finding a vehicle, licensing and permitting and marketing.
Where: Pasco Specialty Kitchen, 110 S. Fourth Ave., Pasco
When: Five Saturdays beginning Jan 23; classes go from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: $277.50 per person. Registration forms can be downloaded at http://downtownpasco.com/psk/mobile-vendor-university/