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View Full Version : Building a Catering Concession Trailer, any ideas, tips, tricks, input?


KentuckyLandSales
03-06-2011, 09:24 PM
I am at the point in catering where we need a bigger trailer and I want to build one out. We don't vend, but we do a lot of set up and serve catering.

Here's what we're thinking PLEASE tell me if I am off here - or your experiences...

8.5 x 20, V nose, concession door on each side, extra height, smooth aluminum interior (I'm not a big fan of the fiberglass panels), Aluminum Diamond Plate floor and Ramp door. Light and Electric package, three little sinks and the water heater deal.

Anything I should do, know, change? Layout ideas? Prep hints?

We have the typical Chafers, couple tables, you know the drill.

Your experience and input is greatly appreciated.

Brad Simmons

HandsomeSwede
03-07-2011, 04:40 PM
The only thing I would watch out for are the "little" sinks. My HD requires that we have sink basins large enough to submerge our biggest cutting boards, we have some pretty big boards so we needed larger than originally planned 3 bay sink as well as a seperate hand washing sink.

You will also want a fridge & freezer.

I have found Diamond Plate to get slick if it gets greasy. I went with a spray on enamel and grit.

Two concession windows AND a ramp door might cause some layout issues when you go attach permanent things like storage cabinets.

Now bear in mind that I'm in NY, and the gear I have also allows my trailer to double as my commissary. That said, I fit everything with plenty of space into a 8x18 with extra height.

Ford
03-07-2011, 10:49 PM
The only thing I would watch out for are the "little" sinks. My HD requires that we have sink basins large enough to submerge our biggest cutting boards, we have some pretty big boards so we needed larger than originally planned 3 bay sink as well as a seperate hand washing sink. Same in Michigan. I use disposable cutting boards to get around that. I put in a 10 gallon propane water heater as you need to fill all 3 sinks plus hand sink and then have a 1 hour recovery to fill again.

You will also want a fridge & freezer. Should be commercial grade with NSF rating.

I have found Diamond Plate to get slick if it gets greasy. I went with a spray on enamel and grit. Some HD's won't allow this. Best bet is vinyl. Agree DP is not the way to go.

Two concession windows AND a ramp door might cause some layout issues when you go attach permanent things like storage cabinets. For sure - will need to do a detailed floor plan and it's very important to find out where the wheel wells will be as they make installing equipment a challenge. May have to cut off legs part way up.

Now bear in mind that I'm in NY, and the gear I have also allows my trailer to double as my commissary. That said, I fit everything with plenty of space into a 8x18 with extra height.
Also need to consider where to put the smokers unless you are pulling the pit with a second vehicle. It can be a real challenge. And FD's look at how you are venting the exhaust. Lots of issues unless you have a back porch.

Start by talking with your local HD and get their requirements.

OL' Timer
03-08-2011, 06:58 AM
I was going to buy a trailer from someone on here and sent the pics to my HD in TN and he said sinks had to go. Replace with trip with drain boards, no exposed wires and self closing doors including the back door. Would have had to change the water and holding tanks also. They have got bad here with the new rules written into the health care bill. His trailer in MI was perfect, but not worth all the changes. Went to a place in GA that does custom trailers to your spec's and have one on order. I would go with painted SS instead of Aluminum. HD's love that.

getyourrubonbbq
03-08-2011, 08:36 AM
I am at the point in catering where we need a bigger trailer and I want to build one out. We don't vend, but we do a lot of set up and serve catering.

Here's what we're thinking PLEASE tell me if I am off here - or your experiences...

8.5 x 20, V nose, concession door on each side, extra height, smooth aluminum interior (I'm not a big fan of the fiberglass panels), Aluminum Diamond Plate floor and Ramp door. Light and Electric package, three little sinks and the water heater deal.

Anything I should do, know, change? Layout ideas? Prep hints?

We have the typical Chafers, couple tables, you know the drill.

Your experience and input is greatly appreciated.

Brad Simmons

Brad, I'd be glad to discuss your plan if you'd like? You can email me or give me a call. Information and photos are on my website, please visit it if you haven't you may get some ideas there. www.extremebbqtrailers.com

HandsomeSwede
03-08-2011, 01:21 PM
I was going to buy a trailer from someone on here and sent the pics to my HD in TN and he said sinks had to go. Replace with trip with drain boards, no exposed wires and self closing doors including the back door. Would have had to change the water and holding tanks also. They have got bad here with the new rules written into the health care bill. His trailer in MI was perfect, but not worth all the changes. Went to a place in GA that does custom trailers to your spec's and have one on order. I would go with painted SS instead of Aluminum. HD's love that.

Self closing doors?

OL' Timer
03-08-2011, 01:39 PM
Yes, self closers like on a screen or a classroom door in school. They don't approve ramps here to much as I wanted one and they said as long as they are equipped with self closer's. I spent 3 days trying to figure it out and went with doors, Less hassle from the HD

southernsmoker
03-08-2011, 03:07 PM
You may need a 4th sink for hand wash, I'd be cautious with those little sinks you'll out grow those pretty quick, get large fresh & grey water holding tanks. Why the v nose? The dia plate is too slick in my opinion, while easy clean up. Do you need a fridge/freezer. Cambro etc?
As always see your Hd & fire dept for their imput..

RICK Allen
03-08-2011, 05:05 PM
While the diamond plate does become slick the ease of clean up is what the HD looks at also here they are wanting coved corners on everything so with the diamond plate one just has to bend the edges to 90 degrees giving about ant inch or 2 of base board next to the walls. the corners on everything else can get the silicon treatment, to make them happy

HBMTN
03-08-2011, 06:20 PM
Just my thoughts after having one built and things I will take into consideration on the next one of the size you are talking about.

LARGE 3 bay sink, electrical outlets everywhere, minimum 20amp service, air conditioning and heater strip, large did I say LARGE commercial refrigeration, Honda inverter generator to run all, maximize water storage

I'm sure I can chime in later with more but that is a start.

KentuckyLandSales
03-09-2011, 06:06 AM
Well I am looking at trailers for just under $5,000. 8.5x20, yadda, yadda. Put some 'stuff' in it and BAM - you jump to $20,000-30,000 and +. WTH? :roll:

I have an Ole Hickory Pit SSE on a trailer already, so two vehicles is good - plus my wife doesn't have to go buy a diesel pickup (although she'd love one). Red, tan leather, big Cummins, Mega Cab, sheepskin seat covers, phrzip - OH, WAKE UP BRAD!

I also have an Ole Hickory Pit EL - so I could do a back porch, but for a large enough kitchen, we are back up to the Diesel truck. Trade this truck in and add 20k minimum - so I went from $5,000 for a trailer and two plastic Sam's club tables and three buckets to $40,000 and a set up I use 10-12 times a year for catering. :doh: Not profitable.

OK, there's gotta be a happy medium in here.

HELP!

KentuckyLandSales
03-09-2011, 06:12 AM
I've seen some SWEET 20'ers. Most of the concession rigs I see are 7x14s - how in the world can you do it all in that?

8.5x20 seems to be the deal. Got that set, now with your detailed help (thank you all so far for the cool input).

My HD is pretty cool here - and they can certify me in the whole state, so I am good. No auto close doors, no NSF fridge (that sh!zz is high dollar). Just four sinks, smooth, cleanable surfaces, doors with screen or wind curtain (he said we can get away with a fan and roll of screening (just in case a HD guy has a BUHB - bug up his butt - some place).

Bottom line - I can't spend $40k to make $15k per year. I want to spend 10-15k max.

Input?

Bbq Bubba
03-09-2011, 06:50 AM
Input?

Why do you find a need for a trailer for catering? You gonna pull up to a small event with a smoker and a 20' trailer to serve 100 people?

HandsomeSwede
03-09-2011, 09:57 AM
Input?

Why do you find a need for a trailer for catering? You gonna pull up to a small event with a smoker and a 20' trailer to serve 100 people?

Going to have to go with Bubba on this one. If you are just doing catering you could do everything at a fraction of the cost: rent out space in a commercial kitchen/commissary part-time, get some cambros for hot holding during transport and you're golden with the gear it sounds like you have already.

I went with a trailer/mobile kitchen for vending at events and festivals but you could still do those with Temporary Food Permits and get away with less gear. The main advantage of the mobile kitchen is that I can go sell anywhere anytime. If you don't plan on doing this, just scheduled catering gigs, you don't really need a concession trailer.

When we do catering gigs we don't normally roll in with our trailer and everything else, generally it's an offsite cook which we then deliver and drop off.

KentuckyLandSales
03-12-2011, 07:02 AM
hmmm. This really is something to think about.

I have the Ole Hickory Pit SSE on a trailer. Then we are hauling all our chafers and bowls and buns and beans in the back of a pickup or Suburban. :rolleyes:

The HD is good with it because it isn't 'regular activity'. A one day/one off is exempt from inspection - just have your three buckets and you're fine.

It just doesn't look real professional to show up with personal vehicles and all.

Maybe I am over thinking this. I want to look PERFESHINUL and all, but I don't want to spend the price of a new truck. :shock:

We mostly do weddings - 150-300 people at Horse farms, Vineyards, etc. We have one gig booked this year for a Blues Fest type deal. I will be the only vendor. I need something for that. for sure.

Cook
03-12-2011, 08:28 AM
Diamond plate floor. I'd never (read: NEVER) install that for floor material. You are asking for an accident/injury. The only thing that you can hope for is that it is you or a close family member that gets injured...you don't want an employee suing you (especially when you KNEW your flooring material was dangerous).

Aluminum interior. I'd prefer stainless if I insisted on going with metal. Personally, I like the FRP material that you don't like. I've had FRP in every restaurant I've ever owned or managed. I have zero issues with it. Best of all, it doesn't scratch or dent!

Three little sinks. I can't imagine any HD not requiring you to have a separate hand wash sink (4th sink). That just isn't responsible of them. I don't have a huge issue with "little" sinks as long as they are large enough to wash your wares. To those folks who actually listen to your HD inspector's hot air about requiring you to have a sink large enough to fully submerge a big cutting board...I say that sometimes you have to talk back to these "by-the-book" nerds and give them a bit of common sense. I too have been told that I needed a sink large enough to fully submerge even the largest of cutting boards. In reality all you need is a sink that will accept HALF the cutting board (or whatever else you are washing/sanitizing). All you have to do is flip the item over and sanitize the other half! If you inspector is too stupid to realize this, make the call to the HD office and get clarification. Sometimes these people only see what's in black and white and not what's right in front of their nose staring back at them. For a trailer, I would not choose HUGE sinks...but I'd probably not opt for some of the tiny 3-compartments I've seen in some units.