A catering van from concept to completion


How MVTech can assist in creating a catering van from initial concept through to completion by Scott Walker

scott-walkerThe purpose of this blog is to outline, briefly, creating a catering van from concept to completion.

My intention is to avoid being side tracked into a discussion of the wide range of delicious street foods now available, and instead concentrate on the hardware requirement for a successful mobile catering business.  Some pointers here will be of use and interest to those interested in starting out in this exciting and rapidly expanding market place. With lockdown restrictions easing there will certainly be reluctance by many to eat indoors, especially in confined premises, and so I can think of no better time to be planning a new venture in street food and outdoor event catering in general.

If you have a passion to share with others the food you love, and wish to spend your days meeting and chatting with many different people to showcase your culinary skills and selling your produce then you too may want to take the plunge along with many others. That said however exciting and inviting you know your food offering to be, you will need to create your own very striking image and practical catering van to stand out from the crowd. This will enable you to serve your food the way you want it to be served.

It’s here that we can help you, as our skills are in advising on choice of vehicle, creating an attention grabbing, eye catching, and mouth-watering image for you and then provide a perfect catering equipment installation.

So here I want to very briefly run through the catering van options available to you and how we can assist you in the creation of your business:

catering-van-serving -counter

The various types of new build catering vans available

  • Chassis cabs
  • Van conversions
  • Special vehicles

The options available to convert a previously used vehicle into a catering van

  • camper vans
  • Ice cream vans
  • Minibuses
  • Horse boxes
  • Ambulances

Vintage vehicles

  • The infamous Citroen H van

Concept design

  • 3D drawings and graphics

Catering equipment

  • Complete installation
catering interior
A catering van interior with tables and seating


The various types of new build catering vans available can be summarised as follows:

catering-demonstartion-van  Chassis cabs 

For those not experienced in the various types of vehicles available the chassis cab is the standard type of square box van you see in their hundreds when out driving.  They come in a range of sizes and, the very important point, a couple of different styles.  I have seen far too many people dive in and buy the first chassis cab bargain they find without realising that the standard goods delivery model comes with a high floor.  This means that from inside you stand high above the customer you are serving, making eye contact and conversation difficult. From the customers point of view the counter is invariably high and an unnatural height for being served. Not ideal!

For a successful chassis cab based catering van you really must choose a low floor model.  These are less commonly used as goods carrying vehicles but none the less do remain readily available.  You should settle for nothing less, as the low floor height makes life much easier for yourself and makes for a more customer friendly experience.

Unless your catering equipment is excessive then I would always recommend aiming to fit your business into a model rated at no more than 3500 kgs.  By doing so, you are able to drive the vehicle with only a standard car driving licence. You also avoid the restrictions imposed by the need to install a tachograph. And further more you won’t be required to apply for an Operator’s Licence.

You don’t have to be put off by the standard “square box” appearance. When building from new we can shape bodies by adding curves or angles and add features such as shaped swing out display panels, creatively styled banner boards whilst combining these with shaped serving counters and hatches.  We can also install slide out extensions to maximise the internal workspace and maximise the external selling space.

We can make your catering van from concept to completion stand out from the crowd and blend in with the corporate image you wish to convey.

van conversionVan conversions

The very wide range of van sizes currently available, offering combinations of different lengths and different internal heights from a wide range of manufacturer’s means there is nearly always a van size to suit your own needs.

Standard vans make superb platforms for many types of catering businesses.  Again we recommend keeping to a 3500 kgs model, unless the extra weight carrying capacity is necessary, for exactly the same reasons already mentioned.

Whilst there are limits to changes we can make to van bodies in order to maintain their “Type Approval” we can still install serving counters along with other features and graphics to make the vehicle stand out as something different.

   catering van conversion  Special vehicles

The product you’re offering and the catering equipment required to prepare or display it will determine the size of vehicle needed.  For those who can operate from a small van or by standing outside of it, there are various unusual vehicle options that have built up a following for this situation.

The eponymous Tut Tut is one such vehicle I offer here as an example of a common overseas van but not usually used in the UK   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_rickshaw

Normally we are presented with second hand, and often quite tired models, of these vans to transform into coffee, wine, beer or sandwich vending units.  Transforming them is fun for us and can provide a great base for some very successful trading.

Other special and less common styles of vehicle are available, such as the Piaggio, which once again we can transform into many different concepts for serving packaged foods.


The options available to convert a previously used vehicle into a catering van

 Many of our clients choose to go down another route to source a second hand vehicle, not necessarily to reduce costs, but once again to enable them to create a unique and distinctive identity for their produce.

As a result we have been involved in helping our clients source previously used vehicles such as camper vans, ice cream vans, minibuses, horse boxes, mobile libraries and even ambulances. All can be transformed and fitted out for an entirely new catering van role.

sandwich catering van in productionVintage vehicles

 There are a number of vintage vehicles available which can, one way or another, be converted into very functional and eye catching catering vans.  Over recent years the most popular model for such conversion has been the infamous Citroen H van https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citro%C3%ABn_H_Van  . Again these are great fun for us to repair and convert and for sure they do work well.  However I do have a slight reservation in the fact that they have possibly become too successful, and thus rather a common sight on the streets of most cities.

If you’re aiming to make a statement with your brand image then the H Van does work, but you may wish to look at other vehicle options from the USA and other countries, before deciding this is the right image for your new venture.

Concept design

 At MVTech we work with our clients to assist in making the right choice of vehicle.  Once done we provide design ideas which we present via 3D drawings and even animations where this can help. But we’re not just limited to creative design.  Our experience covers the sourcing and installation of a full range of catering and product display equipment which enables us to provide you with both an attractive and functional van that will be a pleasure to work from.

For more information visit our web site at https://www.multivehicletechnology.co.uk/services/cad/

chassis cab with extension podSo what can an MVTech catering van be used for?

Our catering vans are used for a wide range of purposes other than simply serving burgers and tea!

They are used by street food businesses to promote virtually the whole range of foods from around the world, with their increasing appeal to the taste buds of so many of us.  We also build for local producers who are keen to promote their own craft foods, from sausages to beers.  A catering van for our entrepreneurial clients is a means to sell from, sample from and for those so inclined to build up mailing list information for direct home delivery sales.

We have experience of a catering van being used by students to experience the “real world” by undertaking both the cooking and the selling.  Catering colleges and training establishments find such field based activities to be invaluable experience for students.

Other businesses are keen to use their catering vans for promotional activities by giving live cooking demonstrations to promote not just the product but how to prepare it.

So there really is no limit to the imaginative use our catering vans can be put to.

catering equipment

An MVTech mobile catering van enables your business to go mobile, to go where the customers are so you no longer have to rely on them to coming to you.  Whether your venture is based on street vending, farmers markets, event catering, corporate functions or food festivals we can provide a van to match your needs.  We’ll share your passion with you to enable your business to succeed. We’ll help you take your catering van from concept to completion    https://www.multivehicletechnology.co.uk/products/catering-and-sampling-trailers-and-vehicles/

If you would like to have a chat about your project or want some ideas from us, please call my colleague Steve Stones on 0116 326 0989 who would love to hear from you.  Alternatively write to him at stevestones@multivehicletechnology.co.uk

Catering Trailers