How much does it cost to set up a food booth at Coachella?

We thought we’d check in with some Coachella sellers to see how things went now that everyone has gotten some much-needed z’s. All festival vendors accepted Square both weekends, with several establishing new sales records. The Grilled Cheese Truck is one of these sellers. Director of Special Events Tim Walker tells us they slung more than 15,000 sandwiches over the course of the festival, by far their largest sales volume for any event to date. How did they pull this off? Tim explains how he sells at such a large-scale event:

Square: Is this your first year at Coachella?
Walker This was our second year, but it was the first time we used credit card processing.

How does selling at a music event like Coachella vary from selling at your usual locations?
All orders for our vehicles are created to order. An event of this scale need ready-to-go orders. With all the food options available, you really need to have a menu that meets the demands of your customers, and a concessions-based service that is fast and friendly.

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How did you prep for the festival?
The event’s preproduction is considerable; we started in January. As the date drew closer, we refined the menu, designed the layout of operations, and began sourcing product and equipment. We wanted to make sure that when we arrived to the event on Thursday, we were ready to grill.

How did you prepare your festival personnel? What were the most important considerations?
Friendliness and the capacity to maintain a pleasant attitude under stressful situations. With the heat, there’s a constant challenge to keep our staff motivated to deliver the very best product, every time.

How many people were taking orders? Did you have people manning different parts?
At our booth, we had four Square points of sale running, with cashiers accepting orders. The dish was then served by two to four individuals, straight off our hot griddles. As the world already knows, nothing beats a hot and fresh grilled cheese sandwich, so that was our number one priority. Whether from our mobile food trucks or at a food booth at Coachella, our customers should get the same delicious sammy, every time.

How did Square help you run things at Coachella?
Square’s system was quite reliable. In addition, the Support staff was present. They were fantastic and were always prepared to assist us if we had any issues.

What’s your favorite Square feature?
The general layout. I appreciate how Square has thought about the entire experience, from the owner to the cashier to the customer. Numerous other systems seem to be pieced together from various elements. Square has done the best job, I think, with making the experience pleasant across all points of the transaction.

What was your plan for getting the queue moving quickly?
Planning and preparation are the most effective things a vendor can do to keep its line running swiftly. On our vehicles, we often operate on a “made to order” basis. But at large events, you need to operate as a concession and have food ready as fast as possible. It is critical to have a point of sale that can keep up. Square definitely kept up with how quickly we could sling cheese!

Did you take anything away from the first Coachella weekend and apply it to the second?
We looked at streamlining our back-of-house operations to keep up with our dinner service demands. With so many clients present during a large event, it is up to the vendor to deliver service as quickly as feasible.

What recommendations would you provide to sellers selling at large-scale festivals like as Coachella?
Spend as much time as possible figuring out how you can streamline the purchasing process to pull in as many customers as possible. Otherwise, they’ll go somewhere else. This procedure requires a steady and accurate POS. Square was up to whatever hurdles we met at Coachella.

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