Division of Hotels and Restaurants
Restaurant Plan Review FAQ
Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicles, Hot Dog Carts and Commissaries
All information on this page is current and was last reviewed by the division on November 2, 2012.
General information on the division's regulatory authority is available in the Complaint FAQs.
For more information on plan reviews, please see our other Restaurant Plan Review FAQs:
1. Q: What is a mobile food dispensing vehicle (MFDV)?
A: A MFDV is a public food service establishment mounted on wheels and axle(s) that is movable from place to place and includes self-contained utilities, such as gas, water, electricity, and liquid waste disposal. Some mobile food dispensing vehicles must use an approved commissary to obtain minimum services. A couple examples of a MFDV are a food service trailer or a hot dog cart. You may want to review the Guide to Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicles and Hot Dog Carts.
2. Q: I only operate my MFDV at temporary events. Do I need to complete a plan review?
A: No. Plan review is not required for a MFDV that only operates at temporary events inspected by the division. However, a MFDV that has a temporary event license may only operate within the boundary of the temporary event for the duration of the event. Detailed information on operating at a temporary event is available in the Temporary Food Service Event Brochure.
3. Q: Can I use a smoker with my MFDV?
A: If you operate a self-sufficient MFDV, you may use a closed smoker in an enclosed smoker trailer that was approved through plan review. Outdoor cooking or food preparation is not allowed. A smoker can only be used after the division approves the plans for the smoker trailer and the MFDV that provides the food preparation area. You may want to apply for a plan review to make sure your smoker trailer plan meets the minimum requirements before you spend money to build a smoker trailer. Detailed information on smoker trailer requirements is available in the Technical Requirements FAQs.
A: A self-sufficient MFDV contains the equipment, storage and utilities needed to operate the MFDV. According to rule 61C-1.001(24), Florida Administrative Code, a self-sufficient MFDV must have a three-compartment sink, a separate handwash sink, adequate refrigeration and storage capacity, power utilities, a potable water holding tank, and a liquid waste disposal system. Self-Sufficient vehicles must have a location where wastewater can be legally disposed of and water can be safely procured. This location cannot be a private residence. More information on self-sufficient MFDV requirements is available in the Technical Requirements FAQs.
5. Q. What is hot dog cart?
Hot dog carts are mobile food dispensing vehicles (MFDV) that are limited to the reheating of hot dogs or pre-cooked, individually encased sausages only. Each cart must report to an approved commissary at least once daily when the cart is in operation. You may want to review the Guide to Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicles and Hot Dog Carts.
6. Q. Can I have foods other than hot dogs on my hot dog cart?
A: Hot dog cart operators are only allowed to sell hot dogs; pre-cooked, individually encased sausages; and prepackaged foods such as chips, candy, beverages, and condiments for hot dogs. A hot dog cart menu cannot expand beyond the above listed food types.
7. Q. Can I use a smoker with my hot dog cart?
A: No. A smoker can only be used with self-sufficient MFDV units. A hot dog cart is not a self-sufficient MFDV.
8. Q. Why do I need to go to a commissary every day with my hot dog cart?
A: According to rule 61C-4.0161(2)(c) of the Florida Administrative Code, a hot dog cart must visit its commissary each day of operation. A commissary provides the necessary support for the hot dog cart to operate in a safe and sanitary manner.
9. Q: What is a commissary?
A: A commissary is a licensed or permitted food service establishment that provides required services to a mobile food dispensing vehicle (MFDV). A commissary may provide anything from a source for obtaining potable water and disposing of wastewater; storage for food and supplies; or cooking facilities to prepare the food for sale and consumption. A commissary provides the necessary support for the MFDV to operate in a safe and sanitary manner.
10. Q: Why do I need a commissary for my MFDV?
A: A commissary provides the necessary support for the MFDV to operate in a safe and sanitary manner. Florida law (61C-4.0161, Florida Administrative Code) requires all MFDVs that are not self-sufficient to operate from an approved commissary. A plan for a MFDV that is not self-sufficient will not be approved without a commissary. A self-sufficient MFDV can choose, for business reasons, to supplement their food preparation, food storage and warewashing capacity by having a commissary or commissaries. However, a self-sufficient MFDV is not required to have a commissary.
11. Q: Can I use my house or another residential property as a commissary?
A: No. Residential property cannot be used as a commissary. A commissary must be a food service establishment licensed by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants or permitted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Mobile food dispensing vehicles are not allowed to obtain water from or dispose of wastewater at a private residence, or prepare food; store food products, equipment or utensils; or conduct warewashing or any other activities related to the public food service in a private residence.
12. Q: What services must my commissary provide?
A: A commissary must be able to provide the minimum support services required for your mobile food dispensing vehicle or hot dog cart. At a minimum, a commissary must have:
- A public food service license from the department or a food service permit from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
- A place where you can get clean water from an approved source.
- A mop sink, or other approved equipment for wastewater disposal.
- Approval from the water/sewer provider or local regulatory authority for the addition of the wastewater from your mobile unit to the commissary’s wastewater system (most likely will require a grease trap). You can use the Onsite Sewage (Septic) and Water Supply Evaluation form to obtain the required water and wastewater approval. Please click our APPLY link for the form. Note: Any additional flow added to a Department of Health permitted septic (OSTDS) system requires Department of Health review and approval.
If you will store food, prepare food, or wash dishes, utensils, or other reusable supplies at a commissary (as a hot dog cart would be required to do), a commissary must have:
- Refrigeration for cold holding.
- Food preparation area(s).
- Storage space for supplies and the MFDV or hot dog cart.
- A 3-compartment sink or approved dishwasher.
For your self-sufficient MFDV, you must dispose of wastewater and procure potable water at a safe and legal location. If a self-sufficient MFDV chooses to have a commissary for business reasons, the commissary can be the water/wastewater location.
13. Q: Can I use more than one commissary?
A: Yes. You can use more than one commissary, but you must notify the division of each commissary before use by submitting the Commissary Notification form. You must also provide proof of approved water and wastewater service for each commissary you plan to use. You can use the Onsite Sewage (Septic) and Water Supply Evaluation form to obtain the required water and wastewater approval. Please click our APPLY link for the forms.
14. Q: Where can I find a list of commissaries?
A: MFDV operators are responsible for finding their own commissary. Several establishments licensed by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants or permitted as food services by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services can provide commissary services, but the division does not maintain a list of those establishments.
15. Q: Can I use a facility permitted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as my commissary?
A: Yes. You may use a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services facility as a commissary, but it must be permitted as a food service and provide the minimum equipment necessary for the services needed for the MFDV.
16. Q: Can I use a facility permitted by the Department of Health as my commissary?
A: No. A commissary must be licensed by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants or permitted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. We are not allowed to approve a school, bar, non-profit civic or fraternal organization, assisted living facility, or any other location licensed by the Department of Health as a commissary.
If the proposed commissary is a food service licensed by the Department of Health, then the Department of Health would issue your license. We recommend you contact your local county Department of Health regarding their requirements.