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BuffaloDave 06-12-2019 02:45 PM

What would you charge?
A friend of mine has opened a cafe and has a corned beef sandwich on the menu- he wants to make the switch to pastrami and has asked me to do the smoking. Back story we did an event and made pastrami sandwiches, made 5 packers.

He threw the number of 15-20 bi weekly out there. He would be doing the brining, he has a commercial kitchen & all the permits. I am in the process of getting permits/insurance to vend and cook onsite. I have thought about the idea of a trade off... I smoke for him if I can use the commercial kitchen to do prep for popups. There is also a courtyard outside of his business that he'll let me set up and sell bbq at. Would make sense to do it at the location so we can just roll them into his walk in cooler.

Assuming you were to take up this task, what would you charge for the service?

HBMTN 06-12-2019 09:59 PM

I've found that it's difficult for two businesses to make a profit off the same cut of meat. For me, an arrangement like this would not be worth doing unless I wanted to help a friend out and he'd have to be a really good friend for me to cook 30-40 briskets a month for.

ynotfehc 06-13-2019 03:21 AM

For just smoking his pastrami, whatever your cost is plus labor and maybe a small mark-up. If he's buying the meat and prepping the meat, you only have the cost of operating your smoker and your time. So what is that worth to you?
$15/hr, $40/hr?

BuffaloDave 06-13-2019 07:20 AM

Honestly it would be a hard no for anyone else.... but I will get exposure and good advertisement.

BuffaloDave 06-16-2019 06:30 AM


Originally Posted by HBMTN (Post 4191979)
I've found that it's difficult for two businesses to make a profit off the same cut of meat. For me, an arrangement like this would not be worth doing unless I wanted to help a friend out and he'd have to be a really good friend for me to cook 30-40 briskets a month for.

I'd be entering into this agreement knowing it's not a direct money maker.
He's charging $10 for a basic corned beef on rye and $12 for a tricked out one- I will be suggesting that he bump them up once it's pastrami to cover the costs...spices alone are considerable.

There are definite incentives for me. Exposure is the biggest- my business on a menu. He's connected to food writers, very active on social media, has whole foods/ wegmans accounts locally...

Another is potentially trading off costs for a convenient commercial kitchen 100 feet away from where I would be vending. Location is in a $15 mil renovated development. It prob sounds crazy but Buffalo food scene is exploding- ppl are literally asking around for bbq pop ups, and NOBODY is killing it. I will

bschoen 06-16-2019 06:34 AM

Good for you. Best of luck.

medic92 06-16-2019 08:34 AM


Originally Posted by BuffaloDave (Post 4192071)
Honestly it would be a hard no for anyone else.... but I will get exposure and good advertisement.

It sounds like a good short-term investment, but if all the exposure and advertising pays off for you, what will happen when you don't have time and space to cook his stuff and your own?

Exposure is nice, but I've never been able to use it to pay my bills.

IamMadMan 06-19-2019 06:40 AM

Personally I wouldn't do it without the permits, insurance, and Erie County health certifications in place.

If someone claims they got ill (even if they didn't) your friend may not sue you, but his insurance company and the lawyers will seek you out in the chain of supply, especially so when he isn't buying pastrami. You will become the scapegoat even if the illness isn't from your food.

You asked the question, so don't get mad at my response; I'm not trying to scare you, but you should research your State and Local laws and regulations.

Without being incorporated or registered as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), having food service liability insurance, all the proper permits, licenses, certifications, and inspections that are required, then you are taking a huge financial risk without limits.

No one should engage in the food business without being registered as a legitimate business. Without being incorporated (or legally registered as a LLC) you and all of your assets owned by you and your family are up for grabs in a lawsuit. Incorporating separates you and your personal assets from those of the recognized corporate entity. In a lawsuit they can sue the corporation but cannot come after you personally unless you blatantly caused harm as an individual.

If you are planning on selling food or catering an event, even for a friend, you should be aware of the laws and the risks involved. By ignoring these and not investigating the legal requirements for any event, you are putting yourself at a great risk. Ignorance of the laws and regulations are not a defense, in fact it will just help to build a stronger case against you if something should go wrong. More importantly, something doesn't actually have to go wrong, one only needs to claim they got ill from your food.

How much of your personal assets are you willing to risk due to food-borne illness issues should they occur?
Or if someone claims they became ill sometime after eating your food. If a civil suit is brought against you because of this claim, you could lose your home, your savings, everything you own, and even your investments.

It might be difficult to prove with a single case, but what if someone who handles the food in the chain accidentally contaminates something. You may have more than one case from the event. Then you have an unlicensed food handler, who is not using a state approved and inspected kitchen, and who has failed to get all the required permits, certifications, licenses, and local inspections.

It's not just the fines and penalties from the state and local authorities for operating illegally, but when you have a civil suit filed the tables turn. Just the fact that you ignored all the required permits, licenses, certifications, and inspections are stacked against you. Couple that with many states who do not elect judges, but rather politically appoint them; then you can have an inexperienced judge in law who has their own interpretation or opinion of the law to deal with. Some of these appointed judges do not know all areas of the law and will make decisions based on personal opinions.

As stated above the extreme fines and penalties imposed by the state, county, and local authorities can't be argued in a court of law, ignorance of them just isn't a feasible defense. Then you have the legal fees which can be exorbitant, even if they can't prove the case. This is why many corporations find it easier just to settle out of court than run the legal gamut.

You also have many corporations that have tried to fight a case of stupidity in court and have lost millions trying to win. Look at the case of a patron who ordered hot coffee and drank it while operating a motor vehicle. Consequently they spilled hot coffee on themselves as a direct result of their own personal action. Yet a good lawyer put the blame on the corporation, and they successfully sued for over a million dollars. Common sense does not prevail in a litigious society.

My intent is not to discourage you, but to point out the possible ramifications of this type of action without the proper "coverage", "licenses", "certifications" and "permits".

Some think they have a legal defense because:

Some would say that they are doing this as a hired hand and they should be covered under the companies / organizations insurance policy. Not true, unless you are getting a weekly paycheck and they are paying into workman's compensation, disability insurance, state and federal taxes for you, then you are not an employee. If you are paying these taxes you could be considered an employee, but you could also be held personally liable as a co-defendant because you used your personal equipment to cook the food.

Secondly if you are using your own equipment to cook with, many states view this as a sub-contractor status where YOU are responsible for all of your own permits, licenses, and liability insurance. So again, you have legal fees to defend a lawsuit, coupled with fines and penalties imposed by the state, county, and local authorities.

Most importantly, if you do this for a friend you trust, they may not sue you, but then you have to worry about the many others who will be in attendance. Some might be looking for an easy way to make a quick buck. How lucky do you feel?

But yet others will claim being free from everything because they are selling food by the tray.
However unless you are legally licensed to sell cold / frozen foods, then you have lost control of the food until it was served;

You are responsible to properly prepare, maintain, and/or serve food fit for human consumption.
You are responsible to properly take the temperature of the food at the time of service.
You are responsible to ensure all persons were wearing gloves, hats, nets, ect while prepping, cooking, and serving the food.

It may be a one in a million case that someone becomes ill, but we live in a litigious society today. People make false claims all the time in an effort to sue for personal gain. If you are prepared to risk it ALL then go ahead. Otherwise walk away until you do the necessary diligence to cover yourself.

Below is an example where a caterer sold pans of food to a client for an event and still got sued simply because they lost control over the food that was served later that day. It may not have even been their food that made the guests sick, because some guests also prepared food and brought it to the event. In a civil suit you do not have to prove "beyond the preponderance of a doubt", only that a slight possibility could exist.

Keep in mind that others provided / brought food, and the food that the caterer provided was never proved to be tainted, only that he did not maintain temperatures until serving.

Edit - updated links

BuffaloDave 06-21-2019 05:22 AM

I agree about having everything in place first- I'm getting an llc and will have all the proper permits, insurance and inspections. I will be using his space for a commercial kitchen when needed to do my first couple popups. (he already has all his paperwork in place).

Pedro7 06-25-2019 01:35 PM

I'm at a similar time as you with my business. There are certainly inherent risks as they have stated. Exposure Bucks can be a slippery slope, but I 100% understand eating poop before making it big. What do you think he is willing to pay you or does he think you just want the exposure/kitchen? Or, are you ok with just the exposure/kitchen? How much time will this tie up from you a month that could be spent going out advertising/marketing for yourself or actually cooking at your pop up? Are you cooking on weekends (prime BBQ selling time) for him? How big do you want your business to be and what is your current capacity/cooking set up look like?

Here's how I think about it. How many people will see his menu that day that will remember your name? How many people could you go get your menu in front of that day that would have a piece of paper in their hands for them to keep with your name on it? If you can juggle both, go for it. You'll hate to think what could have been.

I also think the pop up outside his restaurant may get old for him fast. Even tho you are selling different food, that could still be taking a meal sold away from him. I'd keep what you do for him and what you do for your gig separate and away from each other.

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