View Full Version : First Time Out Vending Question

04-18-2010, 08:15 PM
Hi everyone, after putting all of my plans to action in the fall and getting the busines to this point we are finally ready to do some concession. Next Saturday I will be vending for the first time. I will be setting up on a friends business parking lot which is in a good traffic location for our area. There is also a grocery store next to where I will set up.

The Plan

I plan to have an option of three meats chicken (leg quarters), pulled pork and brisket. I plan to offer it by the sandwich or as a meal with two sides. Side options (4oz) will be mac n cheese, cole slaw, bbq baked beans, macaroni salad.
My figures based on a 5oz sandwich I was going to do 12-8lb butts for 144 sandwiches, 1 case of chicken leg quarters(about 56), 3-12lb briskets about 58 sandwiches. Brisket is not popular around here, not because people don't like it but due to there is no place to buy BBQ and very few who can cook it. So I want to change that for this area by slowly introducing it.

Based on this potenially being about 250 meals I was going to figure a 4oz serving of each side. I was going to do 4 gallons of each side.

I have a friend who works for Pepsi who recommended who recommended a split of say
4 cases Pepsi, 2 cases Diet Pepsi, 2 cases Mtn Dew, 4 cases Dr. Pepper,1 case Crush

My questions

1) Would you cook less meat first time out?
2) Any kind of ideas how many meals will be sold vs just sandwiches?
3) How many that buy a sandwich or meal will buy a drink?
4) What are your thoughts on the quanities of my sides?
5) I was gonna put a 2oz plastic container of sauce with each sandwich. Any thoughts?

Any other words of wisdom would be very much appreciated.

Thank You


04-18-2010, 08:46 PM
I can't do drinks as the gas station I vend at sells them. On Friday I sell more meals than on Saturday. I sell more pounds as well on Saturday. I sell my meals (2 sides, choice from 4) for $3 + the sandwich. I take as follows;
200 HB buns, 84 HD buns, 14 butts, 12 - 14 briskets, 40 pork steaks, 40 brats, 40 hot dogs, 16 slabs, 2 steam pans of beans, 25 pounds of potato salad and slaw. 6 Chickens.

C Rocke
04-18-2010, 10:20 PM
My questions

1) Would you cook less meat first time out?
Amount seems about right for butts - I always buy by the Lb vs butt, 144 sandwiches @ 5 oz would be about 88lbs uncooked
2) Any kind of ideas how many meals will be sold vs just sandwiches?
Would start even slower and just sell sandwiches and/or 1 side first time out to minimize any issues. Choices of ala carte sandwich, sandwich and a side, sandwich and a side and a drink.
3) How many that buy a sandwich or meal will buy a drink?
Here, 6 out of 10 buy drinks, a lot of waters sold
4) What are your thoughts on the quanities of my sides?
I would limit choices first time out to cold sides - Easier to deal with. Sell what you make the most margin on
5) I was gonna put a 2oz plastic container of sauce with each sandwich. Any thoughts?
No experience here, we do squeeze bottles.

A lot will depend on your hot/cold holding capability onsite, what you will serve sandwiches and sides in (Styro container, food trays, side in styro cups, etc), and how much help you will have.

First time out, too many choices can confuse some people - Limit choice and "tell" them what they should order.

A small line is not bad to have consistently, but a long line deters some people. If you are "introducing" good BBQ to the area, I would go slowly, and sell what I know.

I would also not be afraid to run out - Sends the message to the friend that gave you the space that your food is good, and creates a buzz that people missed out on your food, and they'll want to come back and try it (or buy it again).

Good Luck - Sounds like fun!

04-19-2010, 01:43 AM
I agree with C Rocke. I also agree with his use of squeeze bottles of BBQ sauce. This will eliminate the cost of the 2 ounce containers. I have a small shelf just outside my serving window with the squeeze bottles----many people do not use any sauce. I also agree with the bottled water ---we sell more water than any soda brand--and cost is less.

When you are ready to sell sides I would think twice about anything containing mayonaise. I worry about it here because summer temperatures are around 100 degrees and mayonaise can be a problem. Your weather may be such that it isn't a problem. Let us know how it goes.

04-19-2010, 09:07 AM
When you are ready to sell sides I would think twice about anything containing mayonaise. I worry about it here because summer temperatures are around 100 degrees and mayonaise can be a problem. Your weather may be such that it isn't a problem. Let us know how it goes.

That is actually a myth.
There is no danger with foods containing Mayonnaise ...such as potato
salad, and macaroni salad.
These foods are actually safer mixed with Mayonnaise than if they were
served as plain potatoes or just macaroni (without Mayo)

Unless of course you use homemade Mayo.

04-19-2010, 09:11 AM
I would suggest that you limit your sides to two easy ones like beans and slaw. Brisket and pulled pork are long cooked meats and can be held for a long time so they are good choices. The chicken is problematic because of cross-contamination issues but leg quarters are profitable so you will have to decide if you want to wait until you have things dialed in to offer chicken. You might want to ask the customers if they want chicken on the menu. Everyone can do chicken, at least they think they can, pulled pork and brisket are beyond most backyarders so they are good choices. I can tell you that if I go to a BBQ joint the last thing I want is chicken. You may add ribs later instead of chicken. Squirt bottles, fewer choices in sodas (drop the Mt. Dew, Crush and Dr. Pepper) and add water.

04-19-2010, 09:13 AM
On the Mayo issue. You are correct, but the public will shy away from mayo in the heat so you will have more leftovers than necessary.

Bbq Bubba
04-19-2010, 10:42 AM
I think for the first time out your WAY overcooking unless you can properly handle leftovers.

Jerk Pit Master
04-19-2010, 12:26 PM
What C Rocke says.

Like most, you are way too optimistic on number of customers, unless youve spent thousands marketing and also have great signage.

Start simple and small and build up. People have get used to seeing you there for a while, before business picks up.

What are your hours?

50 customers is probably more realistic.

Good luck!

04-19-2010, 08:19 PM
All good advice, it is nice to have a place to ask experienced people like you all. I am going to drop the chicken and ask if they would like to see it on the menu. I'm gonna cook 10 to 12 butts and one brisket. Cut the sides down to baked beans, cole slaw, mac salad. Drinks I'll do pepsi, diet and water. The temps here are not hot, good advice on the mayo but it does not worry me. I am putting all cold sides into 4oz styrofoam containers and store in the refrigerator, then pull each container as needed. As for the sauce, do you find that you will use more sauce if you let the customer squeeze away? I was figuring 2oz per sandwich, how much sauce should I figure on making based on say 100 sandwiches sold and letting the customer squeeze away?


Bbq Bubba
04-19-2010, 08:26 PM
Do you offer more than 1 style sauce? If not, keep the squeeze bottles INSIDE and you handle portion control. Many of my customers don't want sauce (until they try it) :thumb:

Sounds as if you have a mobile set-up?

04-19-2010, 08:53 PM
I have a sweet sauce and a vinegar sauce and the vinegar is more popular.

04-20-2010, 05:37 AM
Where exactly will you be set up? I drive down to my old stomping grounds occasionally (Amherst) and would be willing to cross the mountain to pay a visit and enjoy some good food.

04-20-2010, 05:49 PM
Armor, we will be setting up in Lexington on Nelson St (rt. 60) right beside Kroger on Nelson St. Service Center Parking Lot. But it now looks like it will be next weekend Saturday May 1st. Was supposed to get a HD Inspection tomorrow and was checking over things today and found the water connectors that Lowes said would work (and I thought would not but could not find better at the time) are leaking so I had to postpone the inspection and they can't come until next week. That also gives me time to get caught up on all my beekeeping and grass before the BBQ madness begins :-D

04-21-2010, 10:18 PM
I have been doing office gigs for a while now( fully legal but not allowed to vend on the street in my county). I would suggest using wide mouth if you can find them bottles in 12oz. its a pain to refill them however, if someone walks off with one its cheaper to replace, and they don't get much. Also around here anyhow, I have noticed that with a smaller bottle people use less. No one wants to be the guy that finished it off. If i use a 16oz bottle they will use it all, with a 12 oz bottle the same group uses half, even with a second botle on the table.

04-22-2010, 12:19 AM
LOL, i guess it depends on your equipment .....I prefer hot sides to cold due to the fact that I have a display warmer that adequately holds three meats and three sides.....I keep my sauce bottles in plain view, even tho people love the meat they also love the sauce....I agree, no portion cups for sauce, not just a monetary consideration but some people will skip the sauce altogether and if you pass it out with the que, they'll throw it out. .......Once you offer full meals I offer a small discount for the full meal.......A sandwich is six......sides are two, but a sandwich with three sides that would normally cost twelve is eleven dollars.......people are apt to jump at a perceived value and it helps total gross sales to be larger.......

04-23-2010, 12:54 PM
O.K there have been a few developments for my first time out. I am in Lexington, Virginia it is a small historic town. We have the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) here as well as Washington & Lee University a very wealthy school. This coming week when I am going to set up in town is W&L University Alumni weekend (lots of rich alumni in town), VMI has Hillary Clinton on campus giving a speach, VMI Track has 18 high school teams from around VA competition in a huge track meet. There is a huge race with biking, running that is always a big event packing people in town. A huge art exibit in town and some kind of big show at the Lime Kiln Theater. I am planning to cook more food 18 butts 3 briskets, case chicken 50 or so hotdogs and sides for 200 meals plus another 75 or so sandwiches. If I don't sell it out on Saturday I will come back on Sunday and set up. Going for broke :crazy: This will be a very, very high traffic area next weekend.

04-23-2010, 01:15 PM
Well heck go for it....just don't cook anymore than you're willing to "lose" in profit margin.....Even after a few years of doing the same events we put a "cap" on how much to bring to assure selling out everytime. Best of luck and keep us posted how it goes !

luke duke
04-23-2010, 02:01 PM
I would also recommend keeping detained notes. I don't cater, but I host a very large tailgate party (200-500 people) 6-7 times a year. I keep track of the opponent, the kickoff time, the weather, how much food/beer that is consumed, and any other relevant information. It has gotten to the point that I know exactly how much to cook without any leftovers, regardless of the opponent, time of year, weather, etc.

04-24-2010, 05:16 AM
Wow sounds like a lot of potential! We just may be in Amherst but that decision won't be made until the last minute. If so I will cross the mountain and stop in. Good luck.

04-24-2010, 11:01 PM
We buy the 2 ltr soda bottle squirt tops that replace the screw off cap. We found a 16 bottled water that the lids fit on perfectly. This is what what we offer to our customers.
IF they want sauce to go, we give them a 2 oz container. Our cost totals $0.04/oz for our sauce and $0.02 for a container... so a full 2oz container (we fill em full, dont want to be percieved as skimpy!) out the window costs us $0.10; for those that use the squirt bottle, most only squirt about 1 oz. for a total cost of $0.04 but you got to keep them all coming back, so if they want it to go, they get it to go!

Sounds like a GREAT potential for you upcoming gig! If you have a sellout (I'd rather go home empty early than 1/2 full late!) you will be busy!

Good luck!