Selecting The Right Van For Your Restaurant/Foodservice Operation

commercial van restaurant catering foodservice

The new normal for restaurateurs and catering businesses requires an expanded focus on delivery. Selecting the best van for your foodservice operation has risen in the list of priorities.

Thus, selecting the optimal van for your foodservice operation is that food delivery needs to satisfy two essential priorities: reach its destination at the right temperature to ensure food safety, and capture the same signature flavor that your restaurant or catering facility has built its reputation on.

Total Food Service sat down with Alix Jones, Commercial Van Manager at Mercedes-Benz of Brooklyn, to get the update on the evolving commercial van scene for foodservice and restaurants.


Alix Jones Mercedes Benz
Alix Jones

How have the needs of the professional van/truck buyer evolved since you began in the business?

Customers are becoming more savvy with their business ideas, the ways of purchasing, and are definitely a lot more educated.

With $10 billion in Takeout and Delivery acquisitions in the past two months and COVID-19, delivery is here to stay. Can you talk about what a restaurant operator should be thinking about in terms of selecting the correct vehicle(s)?

Cost of ownership, resale and overall longevity/durability is key. Keep in mind it is an office on wheels, to shave a few dollars for initial savings to overall obtain less fuel efficiency, no resale value, short lived longevity, no where near as durable, not a good way to go.

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Many of our operator/readers use their trucks to go to “Restaurant Depot”/Cash and Carry’s to pick up food and beverage? How would you approach the right selection?

How much weight/volume/fuel efficiency one vehicle has over another. Overall cost of ownership is obviously a factor as well.

Many of our caterers depend on their vehicles to move food safely from a central/kitchen commissary. What would you suggest? You mentioned the availability of a refrigeration package?

Using refrigeration for MOST meat/produce/general grocery delivery is the safest way to transport to ensure the freshness for the customer/store/restaurant that is purchasing it. We can also produce vans that have heat insulation for catering or just build a catering vehicle with hot spaces for warming and cold stations for cooling (like a fridge and oven like set up).

We have a number of food and beverage vendors that depend on vans to deliver on time and safely to their customer base. What’s your/MB of Brooklyn’s advice?

When purchasing a vehicle for the sole purpose of using the vehicle for business, it makes the most sense to think about a few key factors: longevity, durability, reliability, total cost of ownership, down time in the shop, factory warranty that is included in the price and also what is offered at the time of purchase for extending and another big factor is the types of upfits that are available/turn around time for them and if warranty is covering for these types of upfits.

We’ve seen a number of reefer/refrigeration options through the years. Does one size fit all?

Not really, some people want 40-50°, some want 32-0° and so on, some want to be able to plug in after hours and some just load and deliver same day. If you carry pallets it will be different wants/needs than a business that carries catering or produce.

Are there creative approaches that combine dry and refrigerated/frozen?

Yes of course, we can put a partition in the middle or rear of the truck that is insulated or has options.

It seems as if when you shop online that there is a race to the bottom in terms of pricing? Why should value be the approach rather than just price?

Everything I mentioned above is worth more than the price itself. I would never consider Mercedes-Benz the least expensive or the “best deal”, but what you get with Mercedes-Benz is a price that is competitive to the market and a van with more history than any other brand. What most people don’t know is that Benz has more than 100,000 patents including the first automobile, first gas powered engine, first diesel engine, patent the van the car the truck the bus airbags anti lock brakes and much much more. So… with us, you get the best of all worlds.

The best part, service interval is 20k miles or 1 year, that’s for routine oil/filter services. We also offer up to 8 service packages pre paid to make it convenient for the fleet customer or just the customer that has  van and needs ease of service (set up appointment, pull up get a loaner and come back same day next day or just wait, whatever is convenient for the client). Also we offer up to 140k miles on the extended warranty which is one of the longest with the most coverage in the commercial world. We also offer a standard powertrain warranty that covers 5yr/100k, great added value.

What’s in the “Crystal Ball” in terms of electric options?

Daimler does offer EDRIVE vans but not in the USA yet.

What’s the next step for an operator that would like more info on the Sprinter?

Contact local dealer or go directly to MBVANS.com. There are also many forums like SPRINTER forum, that has real customers and real opinions which I think is a cool portal to visit.

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  • Imperial Dade
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • RAK Porcelain
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  • McKee Foodservice
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  • Easy Ice
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Day & Nite
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • AyrKing Mixstir