Originally Posted by bizznessman
All the angst aside I have to add that this is a real issue.
There are many established businesses that may view your operation as a threat. They have invested large amounts of money, time and reputation in their business and that means OVERHEAD COSTS.
The one event we did, out of our house, was seen as a threat to a local restaurant (they don't even serve BBQ...???) and they turned us in to the local HD. We got a polite but stern visit from the HD and that is when we decided that it wasn't worth the hassle or possible liability.
Our solution was to rent a licensed kitchen on a per event basis. We also purchase per-event liability insurance for each catering job. We only do 2-3 per year so this works best for us. If we were to decide to do this as our sole income, or a large number of events, we would go ahead and build/purchase our own commercial kitchen.
First off.....we're only talking about catering here, right?
We've been doing a lot of vending this season (with more to come) and for each event, we get a Temporary Food Permit through whatever local HD requires (this also requires proof of my food handler's license, btw). We've never been told we need a commercial kitchen as long as we're cooking and serving ON SITE.
Now, I have no idea if this would also apply to catering or not? Meaning.....if you brought the smokers out and cooked ON SITE, I wonder if you could get by with that legally? I guess it depends on your local regs/reqs.
This certainly is a real issue though.....the "threat".
There are businesses out there of all types that, when they feel threatened by any competitor (ESPECIALLY one that beats them in price) will do whatever they can to stop that other business from keeping it up.
I mean, God forbid that the laws of supply and demand take effect or that someone stay in business based solely upon their product and/or service being better or at least a better value than the other guy. Let's rat em out and shut em down, that way I can get the business that I feel I am entitled to. Yeah, that's better.
I'm not saying that someone who starts into this business should not acquire the legal necessities to be legit, but beyond that, if your overhead is more than my overhead because I chose to streamline more or decide to make due with less extravagant equipment, then suck it up and either get competitive or don't, but this whole idea of screwing the other guy because he's beating my prices so he MUST be doing SOMETHING illegal I just don't get at all.
I've been warned on this very site that even some of our fellow Brethren have played this game that way. Not cool.
Bottom line? Opening a business is a risk. Period. Part of that risk is whether or not your product and services will sell. Another part of that risk is the costs involved with starting up a business. Any new business has to have enough revenue to cover not only the costs of operation (which in BBQ, include not only meat, rubs, etc, but also insurance, licensing as necessary, staff costs if needed, taxes, etc., etc., etc), but also but hopefully profit above and beyond that.
You're free to "ease into it" as much or as little as you decide, but without being completely legal and legit from day one, you run a bigger risk (legally) than if you DO become legal.
As said above......most, if not all, people doing catering or selling their BBQ, likely got their start somewhere along the way by doing so "under the table" here and there. It's just that some of them seem to forget that after they have established that business and now, they expect EVERYONE to put up $10K before they sell that first PP sammich.