Food Trucks and Hot Dog Carts

Food truck and hot dog stand

In North Carolina food trucks and hot dog carts are very different but both sell food and are mobile. Food Trucks and Pushcarts are regulated by the local health department. We recommend you submit plans and receive approval before building or buying. This step may save you money by avoiding having to do work over. 

What is a Food Truck (Mobile Food Unit)?

A mobile food unit is a restaurant on wheels that is fully enclosed with floors, walls and ceilings. Some of the items it must have are refrigeration for cold storage, cooking equipment, hood system, utensil sink, handwashing sink, water heater, and preparation space. 

What is a Hot Dog Cart (Pushcart)? 

A pushcart is designed to prepare and serve hot dogs only and can be easily moved. 

FAQs & Resources

Do I need a permit?

Units that only serve commercially packaged foods are regulated by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. For information contact the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at 919-733-7366. Some examples of foods that may be regulated by the Department of Agriculture are dipped ice cream, doughnuts, funnel cakes, popcorn, peanuts and cotton candy.

What is a commissary?

A commissary is a food establishment that serves as the base of operation for a food truck or hot dog cart.  The following activities occur at the commissary:

  • The food truck/hot dog cart is required to visit the commissary every day of operation for servicing, cleaning, and supplies.
  • Washing/cutting/marinating of meats, produce, and vegetables
  • Cooking and cooling of foods
  • Storage of food, dry goods, and paper goods
  • Onload of water and offload of wastewater

Wake County does not provide a list of commissaries.  A commissary can be found by searching the Internet.  Please keep in mind that restaurants and other permitted food establishments such as delis, catering facilities, etc. can serve as a commissary if they meet certain criteria and are approved through this Department.

How do I get a permit?

  1. Complete an online application for a Food Truck or Pushcart in the Permit Portal. Please use the Submittal Guide to assist with completing the online application.  
  2. Find a restaurant that has space for overnight storage of food, water supply, washing facilities and wastewater disposal. The applicant and the owner of the restaurant must complete a Commissary Form  and submit for review.  The commissary form can be attached to your online application or emailed to [email protected]

Still have questions?