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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 10-08-2013, 12:30 PM   #1
stokestackbbq
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Default First time vending this weekend, looking for suggestions

I've been doing some catering this year out of my 22' concession trailer, and am looking to start vending. I have an opportunity to post up at a fall fair this weekend for $450- last year, it had an attendance of ~12000.

Most of my BBQ is solid- great brisket and ribs, OK pulled pork and chicken. Sides are really good.

I will only have one other person working with me, and they will be handling the orders / cash while I prepare the food. I'm hoping y'all have some suggestions for my menu.

When you vend, what does a typical menu look like? Here's what I was thinking:

Brisket Sandwich $9
Pickle, Onion, BBQ Sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwich $9
BBQ Sauce, Slaw

Slider Trio $11
-Brisket
-Pulled Pork
-Sausage

Ribs
-4 Bones $8
-8 Bones $14
-Full Rack $20

Single Platter $15
-Sliced Brisket
-2 Ribs
-1/2 Sausages
-White Bread
-Slaw
-Potato Salad

Family Platter $35
-Sliced Brisket
-8 Ribs
-2 Sausages
-White Bread
-Slaw
-Potato Salad

Sides
-Potato Salad
-Coleslaw
-Beans

If you have any ideas for me on how to make this run smoother, I'd be much appreciative!

Last edited by stokestackbbq; 10-08-2013 at 01:26 PM..
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Unread 10-08-2013, 02:13 PM   #2
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I don't vend, but the sandwiches seem expensive. What is your profit margin on the sandwich vs. the other options?

I would consider throwing in a bag of chips and/or a drink for that price.
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Unread 10-08-2013, 02:48 PM   #3
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I think it looks great! Vending prices are always higher than normal.
I personally would lose the sliders (time consuming) and the family platter. Make everybody buy meals (better profit) especially if your serving on your own. Good prices, good food and FAST service is where the money is!
If theres really that many people expec ted i would think of a third hand while your tending meats and what not.
Good luck!
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Unread 10-08-2013, 03:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbq Bubba View Post
I think it looks great! Vending prices are always higher than normal.
I personally would lose the sliders (time consuming) and the family platter. Make everybody buy meals (better profit) especially if your serving on your own. Good prices, good food and FAST service is where the money is!
If theres really that many people expec ted i would think of a third hand while your tending meats and what not.
Good luck!

Good advice right there!!
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Unread 10-08-2013, 05:36 PM   #5
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For me - vending a festival and only having one person helping would be a problem. For a festival of 5-10k people I usually have 3-4 people helping me. We have one person who takes orders and money, one making sammies and meals, one assisting that person and handing out food getting drinks filling sauce bottle cleanup etc. and I am pulling pork slicing brisket, cooking all the other things.

Last edited by HBMTN; 10-08-2013 at 05:55 PM..
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Unread 10-08-2013, 06:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
For me - vending a festival and only having one person helping would be a problem. For a festival of 5-10k people I usually have 3-4 people helping me. We have one person who takes orders and money, one making sammies and meals, one assisting that person and handing out food getting drinks filling sauce bottle cleanup etc. and I am pulling pork slicing brisket, cooking all the other things.
good point

long lines turn me off.

if you get really backed up by the lack of help that could be a problem
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Unread 10-08-2013, 10:27 PM   #7
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I definitely agree with the previous posters regarding "help". To maximize your sales/profits you should have more than one helper. For those numbers I would want at the very least three (3) other people assisting.

We do an annual one day festival that pulls 3K-4K in attendance. There are numerous food vendors and we end up with about 300 sales all in a 1.5 hour time span. We have 5 people working the booth and it is CRAZY fast paced. If we didn't have that amount of staff we would not be able to server those numbers and would probably lose half of those sales to other vendors.

I would also suggest cutting down your selection. Keep it simple. Also beware that ribs are a tough item to cook/serve at a vending type setup. Our vending menu consists of Pulled Pork/Pulled Brisket sammies, choice of sides (cream corn, smoked baked beans, coleslaw), potato chips and beverage (bottled water, canned soda). We sell the items individually and let the customers decide on what product mix they want to order. We keep all prices at even dollar amounts so we don't have to use coins for change (sales tax is included in our prices, makes the sales easier). We tried ribs one time and found that it takes too much time to cook/serve them and the price was not well accepted by the customers. (this will vary depending on the attendees and the type of venue you are at)

Edit:
Pricing for our vending goes as such.
Sammie (6oz meat on a 3.5" bun) = $7 (our cost ~$2)
Sides (approx 4 oz) = $1 (our cost ~$0.30)
Beverage (12 oz water or can soda) = $1 (our cost ~$0.25)
(of course pricing is a regional thing so take that into consideration as well)
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Unread 10-09-2013, 12:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButtBurner View Post
good point

long lines turn me off.

if you get really backed up by the lack of help that could be a problem

I've always heard the person with the biggest sign gets the biggest line. And if the line is that long it must be good.
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Unread 10-09-2013, 04:47 AM   #9
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BBQ Bubba is right on (as always) however if you only have two people serving, the menu and options have to be reduced. Platers, with this with out that will drive you nuts..meats and options of one or two sides, now you have bread, suasage, beans, cole slaw, pot salad...
pot salad has to be chilled..
just offer a meat samie with....if you have two items then put both on...that would be your combo..
This weekend I am only offering during the day
brisket or pulled pork samies
ribs
mac n cheese
cole slaw
combo will be only sammie with mac
later hours the ribs will end, due to alcohol confussion, they never can decide if they want 2 bone a or 1/2 rack and profit on ribs is low
if you will only have a 2 deep line then the time to make platters is justified
however at a festivall too many choice confusses the customer and me trying to remember what goes where, I have to keep it simple for me..
all vending all meat should be ready to heat / serve
by reducung options, will save space for you warmers and reduce the amount tryinig to hold then waste
and the line will move faster..and they will spend the same amount
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Unread 10-09-2013, 11:38 PM   #10
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Great advice from all of you. Thanks for your input.

I've decided to scratch off the "3 sliders" option, and also the platters. I'll keep it simple with these options:

-Brisket Sandwich $8
-PP Sandwich $8
-4 Ribs $8
-Potato salad, coleslaw, soda $1.50, or all 3 for $3

I'd love to bring more staff down, but my budget is TIGHT. I've never vended before (nor have I ever been to this festival) so I have no idea whether I'll sell 20 servings or 200. I'd rather kill myself working for the day than kill my wallet!

I just spent a couple hours making (what I think is) a pretty snazzy menu video. I'm going to mount a 32" LED TV vertically beside the window as a menu (picked up a use one with mount for $150!) and run it on repeat.
.

Waddaya think of that?
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:36 AM   #11
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I like your reduced menu. That should make things more manageable. I can understand your fears about "hurting your wallet" on wages. However, you could look at this "first time festival" setup as an advertising expense if it ends up as a negative cash flow.

Sales at festivals are a bit fickle. It can depend on the type of festival (i.e. who is attending), number of competing food vendors, length of festival (days), total attendance, well you get the picture.

Our approach to a festival that we have never attended or are unable to obtain reliable history on from sources is to to use the SWAG method (Scientific Wild A$$ Guess ) for expected sales and use our results to decide if we want to do it again and adjust accordingly. We always look at a new venue as a learning experience and don't necessarily use profit expectations as a criteria to decide to try it out. If it is profitable then we celebrate and repeat.

Hey if everything was already known......things would get pretty boring.

I believe you will find that Vending is a different animal than Catering, even though there are similarities.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 01:47 AM   #12
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menu looking good for 2..
I have been looking for a way to do the tv menu also, however need to do economy minded..are you running a cd player with a burned cd?
I am going to do more private parties vrs vending next year, however even at a private party it should go good..
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Unread 10-10-2013, 06:09 AM   #13
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I would have spent the $150 on some helpers.
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Unread 10-10-2013, 07:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButtBurner View Post
I would have spent the $150 on some helpers.
Agreed.

Are those pics of YOUR actual product? Looks good.

What are pork "side" ribs?
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Unread 10-10-2013, 02:26 PM   #15
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I like that menu... how did you create that?
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