Concession stand food is one of the best reasons to go to a fair or ball game. Delicious food brings customers to your stand, but if your organizational skills are lacking, you’ll find that everything can go wrong – quickly.

Even with easy concession stand food to serve, you’ll need concession stand layout ideas that optimize your space.

What is a Concession Stand?

concession stand food ideas

A concession stand is a kiosk that sells snacks, drinks and some food items. Food served at these stands is quick to make or prepared ahead of time. If you’ve been to a high school football game, a baseball game or a fair, you’ll find these stands selling food.

You can often grab a soda, sandwich, hotdog, hamburger, popcorn, candy or other food items at one of these stands.

Once you have your concession stand food ideas in place, you need to begin organizing for the inevitable rush of guests that will swarm you during the event.

1. Volunteer and Worker Schedule Planning

If you ask veterans in the industry how to start a food stand, they’ll tell you that your success relies on:

  • Volunteers, if the event is school-related
  • Workers, if you’re open daily or seasonally

In all cases, you need a schedule for your workers and backups to fill in when others are out. Volunteers are fickle and may miss an event – they're working for free – and you’ll be left scrambling to make sense of everything.

You need to either use a scheduling app or spreadsheets to outline:

  • Which volunteers can commit to a certain day
  • The number of workers you’ll need on a given day
  • Hours of operation

If you can create a solid schedule for volunteers and have more than enough people who can fill in when someone is not available, you’ll have a much easier time running your stand.

Organization starts with a group of volunteers and/or workers that you can rely on.

2. Organize Your Essential Ingredients and Food Items for Fast Service

Your food stand ideas will help you better organize your space for fast service. Ingredients and items that you use most often need to be in easy reach, such as your:

In terms of ingredients and food items, you need to keep your most used items as close to your volunteers and workers as possible. When items are in easy reach, you can speed up service and get food items out of the door faster.

3. Make It Easy for Customers to See Your Most Popular Food Items

Organizing a concession stand is often about efficiency, but you also need to think about potential sales. If you know that 50% of customers order a soda and a hotdog, place these items in easy view.

Walk around the concession stand and be sure that potential customers can easily see these popular items for sale.


If potential customers see them, there’s a good chance that they’ll want to buy them. Kids are notorious for this. You'll find that if a child sees cotton candy or something else that they love on display, they’ll ask their parents to buy it and you’ll make a sale that you wouldn’t have if the item was hidden out of view.

Add this tip to your snack stand ideas to boost sales.

4. Dedicate a Space for Food Storage Items

To keep your stand organized, create a dedicated space for food storage items, such as:

Choose an area that’s close to where the food will be preserved, such as the cabinets under the cooking area.

food stand ideas

5. Optimize Your Order Setup

If you want to keep your stand running smoothly and efficiently, you need to optimize your order setup. There are a few different ways to organize orders:

  • You can write orders on receipts and place them above the order counter (the old-fashioned method).
  • You can use apps or digital systems to keep track of orders.

Along with organizing orders, you should also ensure that you have a designated section for receipts. Concession stands must be able to prove their expenses and sales. Receipts will help you do that.

Keeping receipts and other paperwork in a designated area will make them easy to locate whenever you need them.

How To Run a Concession Stand

Getting your concession booth organized is just one piece of the puzzle. You also have to run it efficiently to ensure that you stay in business.

Here are some tips:

Ensure You Have the Right Paperwork

Most cities or counties have rules for running concession stands. While every jurisdiction has its own rules, most will require:

  • Permits
  • Operating documents

Check with your local health department and city for more details.

Build a Solid Team

You’ve put in a lot of hard work to build a concession stand, but without a solid team, you’ll struggle to stay open.

Work on building your team right from the start. Make sure that you’re delegating tasks to ensure that no single person is overworked. Get your team involved in:

  • Stocking
  • Cash management
  • Selling
  • Shopping
  • Tearing down and setting up the stand

Visit Other Stands

If you want to get inspiration and other concession food ideas, take the time to visit other stands in the area. 

Ask yourself:

  • What are they doing that’s different from what you’re doing? 
  • Which products are selling the most?
  • What can you do better?

Keeping tabs on the competition can help you find ways to improve and get inspired about new food items or even new concession stand sign ideas.

Create a Budget 

Run your concession stand like you would any other business. Create a budget and stick to it. Plan out how much you’ll need to spend on:

  • Food
  • Equipment
  • Other supplies 

Understanding your costs will help you determine how much profit you’ll need to make on food items.

How much can you expect to spend on equipment?

Concession Stand Equipment


Cotton Candy Machine

$540.99 - Winco CCM-28

Popcorn Machine

$447.99 - Winco POP-8B

Hot Dog Grill

$746.90 - Nemco 8010

Nacho Chip Merchandiser

$633 - Star Manufacturing 15NCPW

Display Case

$912.99 - Winco HDM-13

Bonus: Consider Mobile Ordering Options

We saved one of the best concession stand ideas for last: mobile ordering. Third-party apps and services make it easy for customers to order food ahead of time.

There are so many benefits to offering mobile ordering:

  • It’s convenient for customers. They can take their time when ordering, they can skip the long lines, and they can pay prior to arriving.
  • It’s convenient for you. Your team will feel less overwhelmed by long lines, and online orders can be picked up in a designated area. 

Today’s consumers are used to having the convenience and luxury of online ordering. Offering this option with your concession stand will only help you attract more customers and boost your sales.