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Hozman
03-01-2012, 03:19 PM
I know a true catering business takes a lot of time, dedication. There is health department requirements, city codes/ordinances, ect.

For me I am a guy who cooks in his backyard and my friends like my Q. With that I have had some requests from friends to cook for this b-day party or this family gathering ect. I do not want to jump feet first into a full time catering business. I have a great full time job.

I do want to get paid for my time and the resources that I use. I don't want to screw my friends but want an honest wage for what I am doing. So far I have always done it for free if they bring me the meat. You start adding in rub, tin pans, ect starts to cost some good $$.

So how do I know what is fair price. I was thinking to charge double what ever I have in meat, rubs, sauces, misc. This would cover my supplies used and put money in my pocket. Does that seem fair or 50% over cost?

Looking for input.

OMFGBBQ
03-01-2012, 03:30 PM
Don't underestimate the value of your time, even if you love what you are doing. Take a look at the other local catering companies and the prices that they charge and price yourself in the middle to start. Once you gain a reputation for quality food, then adjust your pricing. You would be suprised how much catering actually costs. Good Luck!

nthole
03-01-2012, 03:41 PM
I think you will get a lot of negative feedback on this only because the guys that are on this board that do up and up catering have invested a lot of time and money to ensure they are doing it right and they feel like giving you input on doing this is essentially saying it's ok to run black market catering, which it isn't. What happens if someone gets sick? What happens when something goes wrong?

That said, the easiest way to do this is to create a spreadsheet that tracks each element you use when cooking and to create a cost per element. This will tell you exactly how much you've spent in the past and will therefore give you a very good estimate, based on current costs, for a cook. I have a spreadsheet that tells me per ounce of rub, per ounce of mustard, per glove, per foot of foil, per charcoal poundage, per wood chunk what it costs for me to cook x amount of different items. That will give you some idea of what you might want to track.

That said I checked my current sheet and my cost shows to be just under double the price of meat.

Hozman
03-01-2012, 03:55 PM
I am not looking to have my name in the phone book or pass out business cards. Again these are just friends or co-workers asking me to cook a pork butt for them cause they are having friends over.

I am not trying to take anything away from the "real guys" nor do I consider myself one.

Take for example at Thanksgiving. Everyone that I work with knows I am going to be smoking my turkey, this turns into hey can you do mine and mine and mine. This year was 9. They gave me a turkey and I smoked it. I paid for the brine ingredients and tins, ect. Not that I didn't mind doing it for friends but when it was all said and done I was out a lot of money.

Just asking as a bbq guy to another what would you charge your friends if anything to cook a meal for them.

HBMTN
03-01-2012, 07:04 PM
Cost x 3, unless you turn down people who call that are not friends, it will start to grow and friends of friend will start calling. Sooner or later one of those friends of friend will get a price from a caterer and then go with you. Word will get around and before you know it someone will turn you in to the HD.

I have never turned anyone in but what does kinda tick me off is when people way under cut my price because they don't have all of the expense of being legal. So for that reason I would go cost x 3.

nthole
03-01-2012, 07:20 PM
Cost x 3, unless you turn down people who call that are not friends, it will start to grow and friends of friend will start calling. Sooner or later one of those friends of friend will get a price from a caterer and then go with you. Word will get around and before you know it someone will turn you in to the HD.

I have never turned anyone in but what does kinda tick me off is when people way under cut my price because they don't have all of the expense of being legal. So for that reason I would go cost x 3.

A couple of the places near me that are commercial are almost exactly this. I don't sell to anyone but I do cook for neighborhood gatherings and for some of our church events at cost. I only cook for events that my family is attending, I don't do drop offs.

landarc
03-01-2012, 07:44 PM
I think you will find that cost x3 is a good number for what most places charge. Catering and restaurants may even get a little higher in some areas. I think you will also find that some of those folks are a little more hesitant once you start charging a fair price.

I think what HBMTN is saying is a valid point, that eventually, if your reputation grows, you will find out that you will come to the attention of others, some of those won't like you too much.

Hozman
03-01-2012, 08:34 PM
HBMTN I am not here to take money out of your pocket. I can honestly say the few people that I have cooked for in the past would have done hamburgers or ordered pizza before have BBQ catered. The only reason they asked me is because they know I BBQ on the weekends and have been at my house and ate it.

From a legal stand point is the ability to get in trouble is because I am taking money? So it would be fair to just ask for a gift card? Again guys I don't see this happening more than 3-5 times a yr. Last year I was asked 3 times.

I appreciate everyones thoughts and opinions. I hope I haven't made anyone mad. Certainly wasn't my point. Just wanted a couple extra bucks in my pocket.

ssbbqguy
03-01-2012, 08:52 PM
Liability doesn't always mean when charging only. One can still be in trouble by doing things improperly for free. Cooling,holding, food not done, etc. That's one reason it's hard to help someone not doing things as us that do. Go with what you feel comfortable with. But please keep people's safety in mind first before cost. Steve.

viper1
03-01-2012, 10:21 PM
I do it because I enjoy it =hobby
Cost plus =work.
Im retired but not a lot of money either. But I do things for free or I don't do them. I just like to help out. Praise is reward enough. I help the ones I want and say no to the others. Plenty people who charge. With out obeying the laws the risk is to high.

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

chachahut
03-02-2012, 08:00 AM
In general - HDs are only concerned with commercial food service. That means "you're getting paid" & "paid" can mean cash, gift card or even barter. In most areas, the only way to stay on the legal side of HD regs is to cook for free - no pay in any form or manner. Once you start wanting to make a profit - again even if that profit is some sort of barter - you've gone commercial & are subject to HD regs.

That said - the cost (including fuel cost) x 3 is a very good formula for this sort of thing. Standard food service mark up. Just make sure you are truly keeping it in a very small circle of friends or you definitely will likely draw the attention of the HD.

Bamabuzzard
03-02-2012, 08:58 AM
Be very careful my friend. Because you might find out that some of your "friends" aren't really your "friends". Like others have said odds are if your Q is good word will naturally spread to other friends then friends of friends.

When the word gets to that level then it begins reaching people's ears who may have a monetary interest in how you're going about doing business. In other words they maybe in the same business or thinking about getting into the same business and see a viable way of getting rid of competition by turning you in.

My business partner had this happen to a lady at his church. She ran a cake business out of her home. It started just like you're describing. Word got out more and more and she eventually was running a full fledge business. There was another lady in the church who ran a cake business but it was "legit". Not out of the home. She had a store front, sign out front, the whole nine yards. She turned her in. How about that? A sister in Christ turning in another sister in Christ to the HD? Be careful.

PinkbootfarmQ
03-02-2012, 09:12 AM
I charge people my cost x2 and my time at min. Wage. For actual work time, not the time the meat is smoking and I'm doing other stuff.
If your looking to get in to catering yu should check out your states farmers market laws, in VT as long as you are not makining $150 per week over the entire year you can serve food at markets w/o any D.O.H. Licensing. I'm not sure what other states have for laws but it's worth looking in to, it's how I got started catering, a great way to get your name and q out there. You could also sell your sauce,and rubs, there are different laws for processed foods like that, here is anything under $10,000 per year is ok w/o a license, just a label with ing, and your name and address.
Good luck

Dutchovendude
03-09-2012, 09:26 AM
I hate to be a stick in the mud, but you already know the answers to your questions on this:
I know a true catering business takes a lot of time, dedication. There is health department requirements, city codes/ordinances, ect.
Yes, There are health department requirements, city codes/ordinances, ect. They are there for a reason. The requirements are in place for the protection of the public and yourself.

For me I am a guy who cooks in his backyard and my friends like my Q. With that I have had some requests from friends to cook for this b-day party or this family gathering ect. I do not want to jump feet first into a full time catering business. I have a great full time job.
You state you don't want to jump feet first into a catering business. You can't just dabble in a catering business. You either need to jump in or jump out. There is no such thing as "kind of legal". I payed about $10,000 in licenses, permits, Health Department Permits, Food Managers classes and permits, taxes on my food, employees, workman's comp insurance, liability insurance, unemployment insurance, etc. just for the oppertunity to cook BBQ.

I do want to get paid for my time and the resources that I use. I don't want to screw my friends but want an honest wage for what I am doing. So far I have always done it for free if they bring me the meat. You start adding in rub, tin pans, ect starts to cost some good $$.
See above quote ^. If you get paid, you are running a business!

So how do I know what is fair price. I was thinking to charge double what ever I have in meat, rubs, sauces, misc. This would cover my supplies used and put money in my pocket. Does that seem fair or 50% over cost?
See above again, if you get paid, you are running an illegal business!

Looking for input.

Sorry, but you asked for input. I did not sugar coat anything to make you feel better about what you are are doing. This is coming from someone that is running a legitimate business and someone that is involved in law enforcement.

toadhunter911
03-09-2012, 12:39 PM
I never charge to cook, whether for friends, family, or church.

Wampus
03-09-2012, 01:14 PM
OK...I'm going to jump on this wagon for a sec. I'm in kind of the same situation as the OP. I have been BBQ'ing for myself and for church and school events for free for a while. Around my town, there are people that have asked me to cook for them for parties and such too or even pay me cost x 2 for a butt, ribs, chicken, brisket, whatever while I've got the smoker going on weekends.

While I completely understand that to be legit, you have to be legit, I have to say that it's just not practical for a guy like me or the OP (and I'm not speaking for you necessarily Hozman) to go spend thousands of dollars to cook an occasional party out of my house. Heck, to be legit in some places means having a completely seperate kitchen, etc.

I understand that if I were serious (and I may be one day) about getting a real deal BBQ catering/vending biz rolling, there's an investment to be made, but would you have me believe that every person who ever started out in the biz went all out and completely licensed, permitted, inspected, certified and all for THOUSANDS of bucks before they ever sold their first pulled pork sandwich?

I'm not trying to argue, just can't see how this can be the case is all. you gotta start somewhere, right? I guess the question is, where to draw the line and take the leap?

Dutchovendude
03-09-2012, 02:43 PM
I knew this would cause a stink. What kind of insurance do you have if you make a bunch of people sick? Is is worth losing everything you own? What does it cost for 100 people to go to the emergency room on your dime? How much is the fine from the Health Dept and from your City Government? As stated above, you don't know who is watching you!

The Cosmic Pig
03-09-2012, 03:38 PM
I've seen this issue come up many times, and each time someone says, "oh, that's illegal (part-time catering)." Well, that depends on what state you live in. Here in TN - or at least in my county, and I believe the laws apply state-wide but I won't swear to it - you can cater "infrequently" (and infrequently, according to my health department because I asked, is once a month or so) without meeting health department requirements. You can't pass out business cards, advertise, etc., but you can cater. Are you liable if you make someone sick? Sure! But are you doing anything illegal here in TN? No - at least not in my county. Here's the actual reply to the second HD inspector I asked:

Mr. Wear,
I spoke to my supervisor regarding Occasional Food Sales. Occasional Sales refers only to a catering operation. Specifically, Catering Operations that operate from their principle residence, have no full time employees, only occasional sales of food during any thirty (30) day period, (occasional sales is defined as a caterer that does not advertise and has not constructed, extensively remodeled, or converted their principle residence to use as a food service establishment from their principle residence) do not require a permit.

Wampus
03-10-2012, 09:05 AM
Not trying to make this a stink, just trying to think it through.

All I'm saying is.....every caterer on here spent thousands of dollars, got licenses, permits, set up a seperate kitchen, bought all new gear, and THEN advertised and waited for customers? That seems insane!

I'm not suggesting that it's cool to undercut real catering companies and do this "illegally" on a regular basis. I'm just saying that it seems to me that a guy has to wade in a bit and start somewhere.

And I'm also aware that this isn't necessarily Hozman's original question/issue, but I'm also assuming that if he gets more and more requests and realizes that he can make a regular income, it may evolve into that.

WineMaster
03-10-2012, 01:36 PM
Not trying to make this a stink, just trying to think it through.

All I'm saying is.....every caterer on here spent thousands of dollars, got licenses, permits, set up a seperate kitchen, bought all new gear, and THEN advertised and waited for customers? That seems insane!

I'm not suggesting that it's cool to undercut real catering companies and do this "illegally" on a regular basis. I'm just saying that it seems to me that a guy has to wade in a bit and start somewhere.

And I'm also aware that this isn't necessarily Hozman's original question/issue, but I'm also assuming that if he gets more and more requests and realizes that he can make a regular income, it may evolve into that.

I would also bet that a high percentage of legit caterers started doing business on the side Then went legal. I doubt any will admit it though.

Jeff Hughes
03-10-2012, 02:03 PM
It is not too big of a deal to get legit as a private chef in most markets. You cook onsite(no drop offs), that eliminates the need for a commissary and dealing with the HD. Most caterers I know start out this way.

Insurance is the main requirement.

Bbq Bubba
03-10-2012, 02:10 PM
It is not too big of a deal to get legit as a private chef in most markets. You cook onsite(no drop offs), that eliminates the need for a commissary and dealing with the HD. Most caterers I know start out this way.

Insurance is the main requirement.

I agree. Nothing to hide, i was insured but didnt need any "certification" to be a caterer.
If you know basic food safety, cook on-site and can make money, your legal. :thumb:

Bearbonez
03-10-2012, 06:07 PM
In Navajo county, AZ I had insurance and got my temp food permit as needed. Requirements were very loose, but I did what I needed to, to cover my backside. I am now starting up a food trailer business and aside from preliminary steps for the business plan and thinking things through for several years, my first stop was the health dept and fire marshal. I see people selling food out of the back of a pickup with a camper and an unplugged oven for a holding box, year round...I think to myself...would be easy to do the same thing and I also think that it would be just as easy to poison a lot of people using the same method. It makes more sense for myself to just do everything up to par and utilize the chamber of commerce and be a contributing member of the business community. Aside from doing my part in being resposible, I believe it will be to my advantage to be recognized as running a reputable business in order to grow and will contribute to marketing a product line and moving into a brick and mortar joint in following years. I am only speaking for myself, but that's how I see it.

The Cosmic Pig
03-10-2012, 06:27 PM
I'm not sure why everyone is so afraid of poisoning people? I'm not going to cook one iota safer if I'm licensed or not. By the same token, if you're a nasty or unsanitary person it's not going to matter how many licenses you have; you're going to serve nasty food. I don't plan on selling a single thing unlawfully, but I've served many, many people to help several charities. What's stopping one of them from suing me if they get sick? Being "legal" also doesn't make you immune to a lawsuit. Innocent people get sued every day. I just don't understand the obsession with making people sick, unless you're actually doing something unsanitary which I have never done. And I was a "legal" caterer at one time, so I know what's expected by the health department. I'm sorry, I just "ain't skeered," guys.

Big A
03-16-2012, 07:02 AM
I'm not sure why everyone is so afraid of poisoning people? I'm not going to cook one iota safer if I'm licensed or not. By the same token, if you're a nasty or unsanitary person it's not going to matter how many licenses you have; you're going to serve nasty food. I don't plan on selling a single thing unlawfully, but I've served many, many people to help several charities. What's stopping one of them from suing me if they get sick? Being "legal" also doesn't make you immune to a lawsuit. Innocent people get sued every day. I just don't understand the obsession with making people sick, unless you're actually doing something unsanitary which I have never done. And I was a "legal" caterer at one time, so I know what's expected by the health department. I'm sorry, I just "ain't skeered," guys.
Well said.

thinbluebbq
03-29-2012, 11:53 AM
So here is my two cents. Not as a BBQ competitor, but from my day job where I am looking at people who deal with huge liability exposures for a wide range of reasons.

Whether or not you are risking tax evasion, Health Dept. fines, etc. the biggest risk is the liability exposure to you for not having insurance. It has been said before on this thread, but even one person feeling sick can bankrupt you permanently because you aren't organized as a formal business entity to put the liability on the entity instead of you.

Even occasionally, it is the risk you run. I wouldn't do anything uninsured and I honestly wouldn't be looking for ways to accept gift cards instead of cash. The tax man only cares if you were compensated for your time in some form. If so then you owe.

Whatever any decides to do, just remember that everyone loves your BBQ and is your best friend until they get sick. Then it matters not. Just my humble opinion.

Hozman
03-29-2012, 12:09 PM
With all that said then we should all have insurance for our next neighborhood get together if someone is going to eat a hamburger I cooked? That make no sense at all to me. I understand the need to have insurance to cover the liabilities if you are constantly seeking business. If a friend asks you if you have enough room on your smoker for an extra butt do you say no in case he gets sick?

I cook my friends food the same way I cook my food. I am not trying to get his family or mine sick. Could it happen sure but I see if it did that the circumstances are different from hey bud can you cook this vs. look me up in the phone book cause I am running a business.

thinbluebbq
03-29-2012, 12:21 PM
My point was that there is no difference between the two. If you formalize a catering business and make an LLC or a corporation, then the liability could shift from the individual (You) to the business entity.

The issue is that the "hey bud can you cook this for me guy" is you bud until he gets sick and then all bets are off. Insurance is what protects you from the liability of getting someone sick. You are free to do as you wish man and I am not into the whole "it's not fair cause I did it right" deal. I am just saying that you definitely run a risk.

Your original post talked about how you've been cooking for folks here and there and at church for free, but you are getting more and more people asking you to do it. It's the friend who says, "hey dude can you smoke me two turkeys this year?" and then gives one to a buddy, etc. The friend of the friend doesn't care about you if he gets sick and in all honesty I have seen people who were actual friends forget all about that friendship when they got sick.

So do as you wish, but if you want the honest opinion of people to your original question then consider all people say even if it isn't the answer you may be seeking. Doing it right or not doing it may save you from a big issue. Indiana had a big issue last summer at a small county fair where a vendor got a lot of people sick and the health departments across the state were really cracking down because it was a bad deal.

Jeffc
03-29-2012, 01:10 PM
but would you have me believe that every person who ever started out in the biz went all out and completely licensed, permitted, inspected, certified and all for THOUSANDS of bucks before they ever sold their first pulled pork sandwich?


Can't speak for "everyone" but I am. And it isn't thousands it's tens and tens and tens of thousands. And I still haven't sold my first darn sandwich! But I made a decision to open a BBQ catering and vending business, no different than any other biz. You invest, reduce your risk exposure to protect your investment. The rest is upto running a profitable business.

Get a high risk person sick, someone's kid or grandma, and see how strong the friendship is. Just a risk I am not willing to take.

On a different note, Miron Mixon told me once if you really want to know how good your Que is start charging for it! But I digress
Cheers and good luck whatever you choose!

Wampus
03-29-2012, 03:52 PM
OK, so just to clarify.....

If a guy cooks a pork butt and sells it to someone, he's at risk.
If the same guy cooks 3 pork butts and has a party and people come and eat, is he still at risk?
What about if he cooks PP & sells sammies where all proceeds go to a church? Since he cooked it, risk or is the church at risk?



Seriously....just asking for clarification.

Bamabuzzard
03-29-2012, 03:58 PM
OK, so just to clarify.....

*If a guy cooks a pork butt and sells it to someone, he's at risk.

**If the same guy cooks 3 pork butts and has a party and people come and eat, is he still at risk?

***What about if he cooks PP & sells sammies where all proceeds go to a church? Since he cooked it, risk or is the church at risk?



Seriously....just asking for clarification.

*Yes

**No

***Yes, he and/or the church is at risk. More than likely the church would be at risk. If "he" is cooking as if he is representing THE CHURCH.

When services or goods are exchanged for money most municipalities/taxing agencies consider that as "doing business"/"in business". You do have exceptions and caveats from state to state.

thinbluebbq
03-29-2012, 04:08 PM
He is at risk either way. If your mother comes over for dinner and you serve her undercooked chicken you could be at risk of a lawsuit.

If you cook for a church, you as the cook and the church could be liable. You could be liable for preparing the food incorrectly and not being sufficiently licensed or certified (i.e. Servsafe) to prepare the food. The church could be liable for not verifying that you were licensed or certified or negligent for knowing you weren't and selling the food.

And the having people over for a party analogy is bunk. You are at risk when anyone is at your home. If you own your home or have renters insurance, you have a policy limit in that coverage to protect you for injuries to others in case a neighbor comes over for a BBQ and falls off your deck and breaks their leg. Or a kid slips on the icy sidewalk out front of your house after a snow storm.

The church reference brings up a good point that many people have tried to use as a tool before. Some states have food safety or vending exemptions for non-profit organizations that do not require them to obtain temporary food permits. This does NOT apply to someone who cooks food on behalf of an organization. For example, if you are a regular attending member of a church and you volunteer to cook a church dinner in their kitchen, etc then you may be covered under that exemption if your particular area does have an exemption. But you cannot cook food off premises or for a church you have no affiliation with and circumvent the rules.

The contest we organize in Franklin is run by a non-profit organization and the county health department in our county requires us to pay $30 per team that participates in the People's Choice competition to obtain a temporary health permit because even though the event is run by the non-profit, all proceeds go to the non-profit, the food is cooked by people not in the non-profit so the exemption doesn't apply.

I'm not saying that's how it is everywhere, but spending hours and hours trying to find a loophole isn't the right way to go about it. Doing it the right way protects you and promotes a professional image to your patrons. In this day and age where everyone sues everyone anyway, it is even more important to be insured and formally organized to protect your own behind.

Bamabuzzard
03-29-2012, 04:21 PM
I agree with everything you're saying but I think Wampus' context of "risk" was would he be at "risk" of being sued for not having business license, permits, etc. Or I think that's where he was coming from with it.

But you're right. Anyone at your home you are at risk of them suing you if they fall, get sick, whatever. :shock:



He is at risk either way. If your mother comes over for dinner and you serve her undercooked chicken you could be at risk of a lawsuit.

If you cook for a church, you as the cook and the church could be liable. You could be liable for preparing the food incorrectly and not being sufficiently licensed or certified (i.e. Servsafe) to prepare the food. The church could be liable for not verifying that you were licensed or certified or negligent for knowing you weren't and selling the food.

And the having people over for a party analogy is bunk. You are at risk when anyone is at your home. If you own your home or have renters insurance, you have a policy limit in that coverage to protect you for injuries to others in case a neighbor comes over for a BBQ and falls off your deck and breaks their leg. Or a kid slips on the icy sidewalk out front of your house after a snow storm.

The church reference brings up a good point that many people have tried to use as a tool before. Some states have food safety or vending exemptions for non-profit organizations that do not require them to obtain temporary food permits. This does NOT apply to someone who cooks food on behalf of an organization. For example, if you are a regular attending member of a church and you volunteer to cook a church dinner in their kitchen, etc then you may be covered under that exemption if your particular area does have an exemption. But you cannot cook food off premises or for a church you have no affiliation with and circumvent the rules.

The contest we organize in Franklin is run by a non-profit organization and the county health department in our county requires us to pay $30 per team that participates in the People's Choice competition to obtain a temporary health permit because even though the event is run by the non-profit, all proceeds go to the non-profit, the food is cooked by people not in the non-profit so the exemption doesn't apply.

I'm not saying that's how it is everywhere, but spending hours and hours trying to find a loophole isn't the right way to go about it. Doing it the right way protects you and promotes a professional image to your patrons. In this day and age where everyone sues everyone anyway, it is even more important to be insured and formally organized to protect your own behind.

Jeffc
03-29-2012, 04:24 PM
OK, so just to clarify.....

If a guy cooks a pork butt and sells it to someone, he's at risk.
If the same guy cooks 3 pork butts and has a party and people come and eat, is he still at risk?
What about if he cooks PP & sells sammies where all proceeds go to a church? Since he cooked it, risk or is the church at risk?



Seriously....just asking for clarification.

Yep
Nope
I would say the church unless there is a held harmless agreement. Assuming food was made on the premises.

The Cosmic Pig
03-29-2012, 06:36 PM
Yep
Nope
I would say the church unless there is a held harmless agreement. Assuming food was made on the premises.

As I said previously, you can be sued - or are at risk, as some of you are saying - no matter what the circumstances. So no one should have a party, have anyone in their yard, feed their Mother chicken, cook for a charity - ANYTHING! Folks, everything in life is a "risk." If you don't want to risk being sued, you better not get out of bed tomorrow. :tsk:

Jeffc
03-29-2012, 07:03 PM
As I said previously, you can be sued - or are at risk, as some of you are saying - no matter what the circumstances. So no one should have a party, have anyone in their yard, feed their Mother chicken, cook for a charity - ANYTHING! Folks, everything in life is a "risk." If you don't want to risk being sued, you better not get out of bed tomorrow. :tsk:

Really? What was I thinking wanting to reduce my risk exposure...after all these years in business I should have never spent all that cash protecting my interests and just rolled the dice. Could of saved a bundle opening up this BBQ business too thanks for shedding the light!

thinbluebbq
03-29-2012, 07:35 PM
I'm sleeping in tomorrow then. :clap2:

The Cosmic Pig
03-29-2012, 07:55 PM
Really? What was I thinking wanting to reduce my risk exposure...after all these years in business I should have never spent all that cash protecting my interests and just rolled the dice. Could of saved a bundle opening up this BBQ business too thanks for shedding the light!

I didn't say someone shouldn't reduce their risk of exposure, I said you can get sued for fa**ing, basically. This conversation started out about someone catering occasionally. A LOT of people said "oh, that's illegal." Well, that's not always true. It's not illegal here. Then the conversation turned to "oh, you can get sued." Yes, you can. For anything. THAT'S my point. If I had a business, sure I would have insurance. I didn't say anything about people in business. The reason I copied your post was that you said you couldn't get sued - or weren't "at risk" - if you cooked three pork butts at your home and someone got sick. I simply disagreed with that part of your answer, and used it in my response. I'm really not sure why you were so insulted by my statement that you felt the need to be sarcastic? I apologize for whatever I said that made you feel that need.

IamMadMan
03-29-2012, 08:46 PM
So here is my two cents. Not as a BBQ competitor, but from my day job where I am looking at people who deal with huge liability exposures for a wide range of reasons.

Whether or not you are risking tax evasion, Health Dept. fines, etc. the biggest risk is the liability exposure to you for not having insurance. It has been said before on this thread, but even one person feeling sick can bankrupt you permanently because you aren't organized as a formal business entity to put the liability on the entity instead of you.

Even occasionally, it is the risk you run. I wouldn't do anything uninsured and I honestly wouldn't be looking for ways to accept gift cards instead of cash. The tax man only cares if you were compensated for your time in some form. If so then you owe.

Whatever any decides to do, just remember that everyone loves your BBQ and is your best friend until they get sick. Then it matters not. Just my humble opinion.

thinbluebbq & wearcd - Well put in all aspects...

Incorporate and Insurance the only way to save your home and your possessions!!!!!

Bamabuzzard
03-29-2012, 09:15 PM
LOL! It's always no big deal 'til something goes wrong. Carry on.

IamMadMan
03-29-2012, 09:38 PM
In all honesty, if you operate without incorporating and insuring yourself, you are doomed as a successful business person because you will demonstrate that you are not capable of making sound business decisions.

It's not about the money you are spending, it's about the liabilities you could incur in our litigious society. You are spending a thousand dollars to prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You don't have to cook bad food, but there are people who could claim they got sick from your food and you spend money in legal issues if you don't have insurance. Being incorporated limits your total liability to the assets of the corporation.

teej
03-30-2012, 09:01 AM
In GA, as long as the event is sponsored by a non-profit or a municipality, anyone can vend food, unlicensed, uninsured, and using whatever equipment they have laying around the house. How does working an event sponsored by a non-profit make the food safer? Say what you will, the regs. are in place to protect B&M restaurants as much as they are the general public.

PorkQPine
03-30-2012, 09:11 AM
When the buddies at work want you to cook BBQ for them for cost x 2 it is because you are cheaper than a caterer or going to a restaurant to pick up BBQ. Don't kid yourself, it isn't that your bbq is so great, it's because they can get a deal and it is a lot easier than doing it themselves. Hell, I'd let someone cook for me at cost x 2, what a bargain. Either do it for free or don't do it, when you charge you are in business and that's a fact.

Bamabuzzard
03-30-2012, 09:14 AM
When the buddies at work want you to cook BBQ for them for cost x 2 it is because you are cheaper than a caterer or going to a restaurant to pick up BBQ. Don't kid yourself, it isn't that your bbq is so great, it's because they can get a deal and it is a lot easier than doing it themselves. Hell, I'd let someone cook for me at cost x 2, what a bargain. Either do it for free or don't do it, when you charge you are in business and that's a fact.


His bbq might be that good. :mrgreen:

teej
03-30-2012, 01:10 PM
When the buddies at work want you to cook BBQ for them for cost x 2 it is because you are cheaper than a caterer or going to a restaurant to pick up BBQ. Don't kid yourself, it isn't that your bbq is so great, it's because they can get a deal and it is a lot easier than doing it themselves. Hell, I'd let someone cook for me at cost x 2, what a bargain. Either do it for free or don't do it, when you charge you are in business and that's a fact.

I think some of the Brethern would disagree with this.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=129008

expatpig
03-30-2012, 02:58 PM
In all honesty, if you operate without incorporating and insuring yourself, you are doomed as a successful business person because you will demonstrate that you are not capable of making sound business decisions.

It's not about the money you are spending, it's about the liabilities you could incur in our litigious society. You are spending a thousand dollars to prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You don't have to cook bad food, but there are people who could claim they got sick from your food and you spend money in legal issues if you don't have insurance. Being incorporated limits your total liability to the assets of the corporation.
Especially in an S type corporation and LLC, corporate officers can be held liable in both a civil and criminal action. If you screw up, you're really not protected. Get liability insurance.

PorkQPine
03-30-2012, 08:08 PM
I think some of the Brethern would disagree with this.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=129008

Anyone can cook BBQ in the backyard and undercut the legitimate caterers but if it is that good then he should at least charge what the competition charges.

Jeffc
03-30-2012, 11:41 PM
I didn't say someone shouldn't reduce their risk of exposure, I said you can get sued for fa**ing, basically. This conversation started out about someone catering occasionally. A LOT of people said "oh, that's illegal." Well, that's not always true. It's not illegal here. Then the conversation turned to "oh, you can get sued." Yes, you can. For anything. THAT'S my point. If I had a business, sure I would have insurance. I didn't say anything about people in business. The reason I copied your post was that you said you couldn't get sued - or weren't "at risk" - if you cooked three pork butts at your home and someone got sick. I simply disagreed with that part of your answer, and used it in my response. I'm really not sure why you were so insulted by my statement that you felt the need to be sarcastic? I apologize for whatever I said that made you feel that need.

My bad I didn't realize someone suggested serving thier mother bad chicken. Thought this was totally towards me, I am sorry for that. I mentioned high risk folks in an earlier post.

With that said there is a distinct difference in terms of liability. Some one that visits your home and eats assumes the risk of eating your food. However if you eat at an establishment you assume the food is safe. Period. For gosh sakes, common sense! If not I would have had my family sue three times over by now. For anyone to portray you are liable for serving food to family members or a party is smoking crack! You could get wrongfully sued, but no way it will hold water. Now if you have a unsafe home and someone gets hurt that is certainly a different story.
Just sayin

The Cosmic Pig
03-31-2012, 12:43 AM
My bad I didn't realize someone suggested serving thier mother bad chicken. Thought this was totally towards me, I am sorry for that. I mentioned high risk folks in an earlier post.

With that said there is a distinct difference in terms of liability. Some one that visits your home and eats assumes the risk of eating your food. However if you eat at an establishment you assume the food is safe. Period. For gosh sakes, common sense! If not I would have had my family sue three times over by now. For anyone to portray you are liable for serving food to family members or a party is smoking crack! You could get wrongfully sued, but no way it will hold water. Now if you have a unsafe home and someone gets hurt that is certainly a different story.
Just sayin

Not a problem, Jeff! I was actually talking about "wrongfully sued," now that you mention it. It just happens, and there's not much you can do about it - which ain't right when you have folks that do their best to do things right. I kinda worried about the charity cooks I did, but one would hope that people that support animal shelters, etc, wouldn't be sue-happy! But nothing surprises me when it comes to getting money for nothing any more. Too many people just looking for that chance! :tsk:

chachahut
03-31-2012, 08:53 AM
My 2¢...

You have far less worry about the lawyers coming to sue for bad Q than you do the tax man coming for his 85%. As far as I know, pretty much every state believes if you're taking money for a service - you are a business. No grey area there. If you are a business - you will pay taxes. That might also mean having to charge tax on the food you're selling (it does in NY). You don't pay taxes - you will get a visit from the tax man.

So - while food safety & liability are certainly things to be concerned with - they are also less likely an issue than getting popped for a massive tax bill because you consider yourself "unofficial". Unfortunately - the government does not view any business as "unofficial" - especially if it can take a cut of your income.

The Cosmic Pig
03-31-2012, 10:48 AM
My 2...

You have far less worry about the lawyers coming to sue for bad Q than you do the tax man coming for his 85%. As far as I know, pretty much every state believes if you're taking money for a service - you are a business. No grey area there. If you are a business - you will pay taxes. That might also mean having to charge tax on the food you're selling (it does in NY). You don't pay taxes - you will get a visit from the tax man.

So - while food safety & liability are certainly things to be concerned with - they are also less likely an issue than getting popped for a massive tax bill because you consider yourself "unofficial". Unfortunately - the government does not view any business as "unofficial" - especially if it can take a cut of your income.

Yes, the government even gives you the opportunity to pay taxes on marijuana/illegal drug sales! Isn't that nice of them!?!?!? :heh:

rockytopsmokies
04-01-2012, 08:50 PM
Look this is a gray area. If you read how most successful BBQ guys got started, it happened on accident. Yes the world has changed since then and you do have to protect yourself. If you honestly believe in your product and think you can make money off of it, then set up an LLC and insurance. In NC, it initially costs less than $200 bucks to get started. You can always end the business if you decide to. You really have nothing to lose if you think you can sell enough food to cover your expenses. I was in this position for a short bit but the demand was so high I went legit quicker than I thought. Too big of a risk nowadays. I faced criticism from other business owners because I now have to pay taxes, insurance, etc....but I take pride in it. So my encouragement is go for it. Don't risk it. Get you an LLC and insurance....get out there and sell something.

Jeff Hughes
04-01-2012, 09:11 PM
Look this is a gray area. If you read how most successful BBQ guys got started, it happened on accident. Yes the world has changed since then and you do have to protect yourself. If you honestly believe in your product and think you can make money off of it, then set up an LLC and insurance. In NC, it initially costs less than $200 bucks to get started. You can always end the business if you decide to. You really have nothing to lose if you think you can sell enough food to cover your expenses. I was in this position for a short bit but the demand was so high I went legit quicker than I thought. Too big of a risk nowadays. I faced criticism from other business owners because I now have to pay taxes, insurance, etc....but I take pride in it. So my encouragement is go for it. Don't risk it. Get you an LLC and insurance....get out there and sell something.

I agree. Be as legit as you can and get er done...

Ferndalerunner
04-01-2012, 10:08 PM
Would like to add a question...I just cooked pork for over 500 for a friend's business opening for free, so what liability might I have? Thanks.

rockytopsmokies
04-02-2012, 07:56 AM
I would think you would both be accountable. But if they aren't sick by now you should be fine. I wouldn't do it again though. Out of 500 people I'm sure there's a crazy one looking for money, especially since the lottery is over

DennyDustin
04-23-2012, 04:50 AM
Your post is all about unofficial catering businesses. I think unofficial catering business is not good thing as they don't have illegal license. It cannot become more popular.

NS Mike D
04-30-2012, 10:21 AM
Would like to add a question...I just cooked pork for over 500 for a friend's business opening for free, so what liability might I have? Thanks.


I can't speak of AR law, in NYS, it doesn't matter if you charge a fee or not - you need a DOH permit/license to serve for to the public - and public means people other than your family and friends in your home. Cooking for a business opening, even for free, would be considered serving food to the public. Doing it without proper permits would be used to prove "gross negligence" even before they looked at any mistakes you might have made in preparing and handling the food.


Your liability can be in two forms - fines for illegally cooking for the public if the DOH finds out, and law suits in case you injured people as a result of your cooking. Someone might choke or someone might get food poisoning. If it's the later chances are it won't be an isolated case.



When you cook for a charity, you are covered by DOH exemptions, the charity's permits and their insurance. You would still be liable for your actions, but the likely you would not be "grossly negligent" out of he box, and that the plaintiff's lawyers would be more interested in the insurance policy than your home.

Colorado Brewer
05-01-2012, 02:15 PM
I'm a rookie to BBQ and have been browsing the forum, I stumbled across this thread and decided to comment. I know a bit about health rules and regs...been an inspector for the past 11 years.

First, as many have mentioned, rules vary quite a bit State to State. You'd be wise to investigate the specifics of your area before you take anyone's advice on what you can and can't do without a license.

As far as "drawing our attention", typically we aren't looking for the occasional caterer, if a friend asks you to do the bbq for a small backyard get-together, even if there is some sort of compensation, I'm usually not interested in bothering you unless it becomes more than a couple times a year thing.

I would however, bring out the big guns for this;

Would like to add a question...I just cooked pork for over 500 for a friend's business opening for free, so what liability might I have? Thanks.

I don't care if it's for free or not, if you served 500 people who neither you or your friend know, without a license, I'm going after you. I feel not only an obligation to the customers who assumed they were being provided food by a reputable business, but also (and usually bigger in my eyes) all the reputable businesses who you just screwed over. I understand how difficult it is to start a legit food business, and I look at it as my duty to help those already in business by throwing the book at those who do events like this illegally.

Typically, the people I shut down receive a monetary fine, $1000-10,000 depending on how severe the case or how blatant their disregard for the rules was. I am "informed" of these most often by other caterers/restaurants, or by unlicensed vendors who are dumb enough to place ads in newspapers, the internet or craig's list. Search "caterer ________ (your city)" in Google, we do, and that's how we find them. I've had unlicensed vendors come into our office parking lot and try to sell out of the back of their cars, genius!

I think in the OP's case, he is right there on the line. Sounds like this is/was a small, PRIVATE event. I would probably advise him if he has aspirations of growing any larger to have a discussion with the HD on what would be required.

I'd be happy to answer any dreaded HD questions, hopefully you all can put up with my rookie BBQ questions,

jasonjax
05-01-2012, 03:37 PM
This has been a somewhat amusing read for sure.

Just curious, can anyone actually point to a successful lawsuit where a plaintiff proved within a preponderance of the evidence that something they ate caused them to be sick versus oh say the stomach flu etc, and was awarded a cash settlement?

I'm just wondering how much this entire liability discussion from a food-born illness is academic.

P.S. I don't professionally or illicitly cater, don't charge for any of my BBQ, and don't plan to. I do cook very occasionally for Scouts and friends, but again no charge.

jasonjax
05-01-2012, 03:46 PM
I would however, bring out the big guns for this;



I don't care if it's for free or not, if you served 500 people who neither you or your friend know, without a license, I'm going after you. ,


So if a church with a decent sized congregation asked a member to BBQ for over ~500 and he only knew <500 you'd bring out the big guns?

viper1
05-01-2012, 07:55 PM
Well dont see any thing amusing at all. In fact I thank you for being so clear. I think any one serving a business customers or event in a church or any where else does have the right to expect a licensed and legal cook. Don't see where it matters if any one gets sick or not. it's illegal and you are gambling with them. I don't see a problem if you post a sign saying to everyone attending "I am unlicensed my equipment and kitchen hasn't been checked.You could be risking getting sick." LOL But I dont think any one would eat much knowing the facts. I wouldn't. Now if you was a neighbor I knew or a close friend I trusted no problem at all.Their is lots of reasons for getting permits and licensed and being checked. And I think it horse pucky to risk any one with out them knowing.And yes if my wife or children got sick and I found this out, I'd own EVERY thing you have! And dont think for a minute others wont.

jasonjax
05-02-2012, 06:48 AM
So because this thread did pique my curiosity, I used the googles to check for food poisoning lawsuits. It looks like there are plenty out there, but that only the really serious ones bring in monetary rewards.

This is an interesting subject from a lot of standpoints. I am a whole-hearted capitalist, and believe one of the few absolutely necessary roles of the government is to create a level playing field for business ventures. That said, I completely understand the guy who wants to cook here and there, ESPECIALLY for charitable not for profit outfits such as churches and scouting events etc.

tortaboy
05-02-2012, 08:11 AM
This has been a somewhat amusing read for sure.

Just curious, can anyone actually point to a successful lawsuit where a plaintiff proved within a preponderance of the evidence that something they ate caused them to be sick versus oh say the stomach flu etc, and was awarded a cash settlement?

I'm just wondering how much this entire liability discussion from a food-born illness is academic.

P.S. I don't professionally or illicitly cater, don't charge for any of my BBQ, and don't plan to. I do cook very occasionally for Scouts and friends, but again no charge.

Google Jack in the Box, Food Poisoning.

Colorado Brewer
05-02-2012, 09:32 AM
So if a church with a decent sized congregation asked a member to BBQ for over ~500 and he only knew <500 you'd bring out the big guns?

No, churches are non-profits and exempt from licensing. In my State, as long as the church/non-profit group operates in their local area and does not exceed 52 events/year we do not license or inspect. We aren't trying to stop church fundraisers.

Colorado Brewer
05-02-2012, 09:37 AM
This has been a somewhat amusing read for sure.

Just curious, can anyone actually point to a successful lawsuit where a plaintiff proved within a preponderance of the evidence that something they ate caused them to be sick versus oh say the stomach flu etc, and was awarded a cash settlement?

I'm just wondering how much this entire liability discussion from a food-born illness is academic.

P.S. I don't professionally or illicitly cater, don't charge for any of my BBQ, and don't plan to. I do cook very occasionally for Scouts and friends, but again no charge.

Happens all the time. Ever heard of Jack-in-the-Box? Just last year I had a case where a restaurant made around 125 people sick, food and people were tested and had identical strains of bacteria. Never heard the final outcome but the group was initially suing for around 50,000 to cover medical/inconvenience. It's usually not the lawsuit but the bad PR that kills a business implicated in an outbreak.

These guys specialize in foodborne lawsuits;
http://http://www.marlerclark.com/ (http://www.marlerclark.com/)

Colorado Brewer
05-02-2012, 09:43 AM
So if a church with a decent sized congregation asked a member to BBQ for over ~500 and he only knew <500 you'd bring out the big guns?

No, non-profits/churches are exempt. Rules vary, but I'm not shutting down a church fundraiser or kicking over a kid's lemonade stand. I'm interested in people making this their business without playing by the rules.

Bamabuzzard
05-02-2012, 09:54 AM
No, non-profits/churches are exempt. Rules vary, but I'm not shutting down a church fundraiser or kicking over a kid's lemonade stand. I'm interested in people making this their business without playing by the rules.

That's what I figured you were going to say and I agree. You're interested in someone with the intent to run a business yet skirt the rules. I like your approach. :thumb:

PorkQPine
05-02-2012, 10:56 AM
This has been a somewhat amusing read for sure.

Just curious, can anyone actually point to a successful lawsuit where a plaintiff proved within a preponderance of the evidence that something they ate caused them to be sick versus oh say the stomach flu etc, and was awarded a cash settlement?

I'm just wondering how much this entire liability discussion from a food-born illness is academic.

P.S. I don't professionally or illicitly cater, don't charge for any of my BBQ, and don't plan to. I do cook very occasionally for Scouts and friends, but again no charge.


I am a business insurance agent and have insured many restaurants and caterers over the last 30 years. I have seen all kinds of claims against insurance carriers for food related problems and the awards are higher than buying insurance for many many years. You can either keep the risk and insure it with your home and other assets or your can transfer the risk to an insurance carrier for a fee (premium) the choice is yours.

jasonjax
05-03-2012, 01:08 PM
Timely article....

Maybe we should all just live on farms with our own livestock and gardens.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/03/health/listeria-outbreak-investigation/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

OL' Timer
05-15-2012, 12:49 PM
When I first opened up my vending and catering I had a local restaurant call the CDC and state health Dept on me as that I sold them raw chicken. Funny thing was that all the chicken we cooked that day went to a local nursing home for a big birthday party and no one got sick. Th HD and CDC told them one more false report and they would be arrested and fined. Needless to say they went under 6 months later for lack of business. Selling chicken, called poetic justice:grin:

Bamabuzzard
05-15-2012, 12:58 PM
When I first opened up my vending and catering I had a local restaurant call the CDC and state health Dept on me as that I sold them raw chicken. Funny thing was that all the chicken we cooked that day went to a local nursing home for a big birthday party and no one got sick. Th HD and CDC told them one more false report and they would be arrested and fined. Needless to say they went under 6 months later for lack of business. Selling chicken, called poetic justice:grin:


I've put this story on here before but I'll post it again because it might save someone's tail. At a local church where I live there was a lady who had a baking business. She did wedding cakes, other type cakes, cupcakes and all the other stuff that came along with this type business. She had a storefront, sign out front and all. Legit business. She got word of another lady in the church running a baking business yet doing it out of her home. She was (as many start out doing) operating the business "on the side", trying to build it so she could do it full time. Well, the lady with the storefront picked up the phone and turned her in. The lady got in all kinds of trouble with the HD and other local agencies. The point is that we all know a lot of now legit businesses started out this way. But, it doesn't mean someone won't call the authorities on you when you do it. It is a risk and can be a huge risk. :thumb:

PorkQPine
05-16-2012, 06:15 PM
When you cooked for a nursing home I sure hope you had a ServSafe under your belt as they have impared immume systems and you have to be really careful.

jcpetro97
05-16-2012, 07:30 PM
Great thread! Lots of great opinions here. This is similar to something I posted the other day. My coworkers are very supportive of my bbq comp aspirations. I have had people offer to have me do a practice cook with say pork shoulder or brisket and then just supply the meat. Some have asked if they could just give money for me to go get the meat for them and cook. So they would mock in for meat and supplies. No profits... I just have the cooker, they don't.

I realize its a little different than the original question but I thought it was close enough and wanted to see what you all thought in that case.

Along the same lines, what if we organized a lunch at work and they asked me to cook make polled pork. Again, they supply the meat...

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2

OL' Timer
05-29-2012, 01:54 PM
When you cooked for a nursing home I sure hope you had a ServSafe under your belt as they have impared immume systems and you have to be really careful.I am a Cert Chef Grad of FL School of Culinary Arts and yes ServSafe was a required class. Everyone should take the college course for the public's health.

OL' Timer
05-29-2012, 01:58 PM
Great thread! Lots of great opinions here. This is similar to something I posted the other day. My coworkers are very supportive of my bbq comp aspirations. I have had people offer to have me do a practice cook with say pork shoulder or brisket and then just supply the meat. Some have asked if they could just give money for me to go get the meat for them and cook. So they would mock in for meat and supplies. No profits... I just have the cooker, they don't.

I realize its a little different than the original question but I thought it was close enough and wanted to see what you all thought in that case.

Along the same lines, what if we organized a lunch at work and they asked me to cook make polled pork. Again, they supply the meat...

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2
Do not let anyone supply the meat to you as you have not had it under your immediate control. You do not know if they kept it cold enough or stored it properly and the liabilty is on you not them. ALWAYS get the meat yourself.

viper1
05-29-2012, 02:30 PM
well guess we shouldnt have food for sale at all the club and church functions. But will continue any way because we need to make the money and all my years around here Ive never heard of a law suit yet. Now Im sure they can and some day might. But this small town is called the Quaker town for good reason. Always food being served by some one. I have had cook outs and benefits for hundreds of people. But Im old and retired. And I dont have nothing much any one would want. Been told I was dieing 5 times. So even if they do sue me they wont get much. LOL Id die before they could.LOL so take that!

deepsouth
05-29-2012, 05:44 PM
My business partner had this happen to a lady at his church. She ran a cake business out of her home. It started just like you're describing. Word got out more and more and she eventually was running a full fledge business. There was another lady in the church who ran a cake business but it was "legit". Not out of the home. She had a store front, sign out front, the whole nine yards. She turned her in. How about that? A sister in Christ turning in another sister in Christ to the HD? Be careful.

christ likes to get paid.

deepsouth
05-29-2012, 05:47 PM
I knew this would cause a stink. What kind of insurance do you have if you make a bunch of people sick? Is is worth losing everything you own? What does it cost for 100 people to go to the emergency room on your dime? How much is the fine from the Health Dept and from your City Government? As stated above, you don't know who is watching you!


wow, that's crazy..... everyone at a whole party getting sick enough to go to the er....... i've never heard of that happening, but i guess ANYthing is possible.