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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 09-14-2008, 02:16 AM   #1
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Default Festival Gig - how to gauge

Hello Brethren,

I have been doing local farmers markets all summer. I tried 4 different city markets until I found the perfect one. The market is not too far away. And I always make my money back on the food and make a profit. I signed up for the Morro Bay Harbor Festival. I got accepted and I am renting a Premier BBQ location. Only two BBQ vendors will be there. The festival is from 9am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. The potential patron traffic is expected at 25,000 people...

How the fark do I gauge something like that??? Even if I touch 1% thats 250 people. 2% would be 500 people... I suspect families would be a part of the 1 or 2 percent population or possibly over the 1 or 2 percent...

The festival is 4th and 5th of October, so time is running out...
I will be there with 7 forms of Q'z... I dont have a trailer q, so I will be roughing it... with my arsenal of units. And a chitload of briquettes, wood, and propane.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 10:56 AM   #2
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I would say without some large smokers on hand I would do some priore and vac it and reheat that day and do some fresh as well to restock each day. Keep to menu simple don't try to do to much and for quantities I would at least do a case and a half of butts each day. I have hit some of mine right on and others way off festivals can be tricky and it takes time to get comfortable doing them and making money at it.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 11:20 AM   #3
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Lots of pulled pork and walk arounf food. Sausage on a stick, and turkey legs seem to be a hit with the walk around crowd here. Make sure you have two different sizes of sammies. You have hearty eaters, that won't mind paying for a $6 sammie, but you will have the grannies that would want to split a $4 sammie with the grandkids.

Meat that is easily cooked to replenish stock is key if you have larger than expected crowds.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 12:01 PM   #4
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My thoughts on vending....for what its worth.
Take the 1% figure and plan for that, if you sell out, your ahead of the game. You haven't lost anything.
If it goes fast, refigure your numbers for the next day.
No large pit? What are you cooking on?
May be better off pre cooking and warming on site instead of a clusterfark of cookers, trying to keep temps, serving, etc, etc.
Good luck and get some pics!
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Unread 09-14-2008, 07:20 PM   #5
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We do lots of vending in the Monterey Bay area. Our most popular menu item for vending is smoked tri-tip sandwiches, with optional grilled onions and/or bell peppers. Sometimes we even offer shredded cheese on them. We also do spare ribs and pesto chicken sandwiches. We also often offer a plate with the ribs or sandwiches with a scoop of potato salad. We used to also offer cole slaw, but that is not usually real popular here in Central CA.

For an event like that one where we have never vended before we would go with enough for 400-500 orders. Then in the late afternoon Saturday, if you find yourself running low, then send someone to buy more product for the next day. Most events will have more orders on Saturday than Sunday. But we do the Capitola Art & Wine Festival every year and we always have more orders in Sunday. This year on sunday afternoon we started running out of things so I just changed the menu. We ran out of bread rolls, but had some tortillas from the tri-tip breakfast burritos, so we made tri-tip wraps instead. Then we ran out of tortillas and sold a family pack of half a rack of ribs and half a tri-tip. People bought them. For events when you have leftovers, it sure helps to have a large freezer!

This is an old photo and we actually put more meat and vegetables on the sandwiches than this shows. We usually put the onions and bell peppers under the meat cuz otherwise they slide off the meat and make a mess while eating.


Pesto Chicken Sandwich
I normally put the cheese under the hot chicken to start it melting
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Unread 09-15-2008, 01:55 AM   #6
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Yes, unfortunetly, we cannot precook anything. In Ca., strict laws prohibit this, must prep and cook onsite, unless we rent a kitchen.

Im cooking on 3 ecb's, a standard backyard grill, my commercial grill, and my Silver Smoker.

I had to turn in my menu 1 month ago. The other bbq vendor is doing pulled pork, and steak sammies...

I am doing tritip sammies, sausage on a stick or bun, breakfast burritos, green salad, chili, hamburgers/cheesburgers, hotdogs, grilled onions & shrooms, chips, nachos,. I cant remember the rest, I will pull out my menu list and double check..
Unfortuently, I cannot carry water or soda, (good money makers for me) SO, I will serve coffee, iced tea, and other non carbonated drinks.

I was thinking about chicken but would need a cooler just for them. CA. law..

I dont want to cook anything that takes a chitload of cooktime, I cant, I will loose customers. I need product ready to go by 9:00 am... Ill offer tritip at 10:00am, and all the rest as well. I am bringing an 8 person crew at least.. thanks to family and friends who just want to eat and get me to succeed!! So that frees me up to cook and man fires... LOTS of fire!! hahahah

I will prolly run everything hot to get product out. And still smoke for the afternoon rush, then do over... I will have runners as well, so If I run out, they can go to the store to replentish.. I dont want to do this on every product because I will be at the mercy of their local supermarket, no Costco near there!! :(

Thanks for the help BRETHREN, Im very nervous and sketchy! The local Farmers Markets are a different beast than this. This could make or break my business... I will be handing out samples, and trifolds, and business cards as well.. :)

I will also be taking a chitload of pics!! Need them for marketing! :)

I hope the other bbq vendor isnt a brethren!! If so, please dont take my menu options ;)
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Unread 09-15-2008, 12:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qcrue2U View Post
Im cooking on 3 ecb's, a standard backyard grill, my commercial grill, and my Silver Smoker...
I am doing tritip sammies, sausage on a stick or bun, breakfast burritos, green salad, chili, hamburgers/cheesburgers, hotdogs, grilled onions & shrooms, chips, nachos,. I cant remember the rest, I will pull out my menu list and double check...
Ummmm...best of luck with this. It sounds like quite an ambitious undertaking.
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Unread 09-15-2008, 12:57 PM   #8
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I'd take the 25k, subtract 20% = 20k, and then count on serving 2% of them, or 400-450. Good luck out there!
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Unread 09-15-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qcrue2U View Post
Yes, unfortunetly, we cannot precook anything. In Ca., strict laws prohibit this, must prep and cook onsite, unless we rent a kitchen.

Im cooking on 3 ecb's, a standard backyard grill, my commercial grill, and my Silver Smoker.

I had to turn in my menu 1 month ago. The other bbq vendor is doing pulled pork, and steak sammies...

I am doing tritip sammies, sausage on a stick or bun, breakfast burritos, green salad, chili, hamburgers/cheesburgers, hotdogs, grilled onions & shrooms, chips, nachos,. I cant remember the rest, I will pull out my menu list and double check..
Unfortuently, I cannot carry water or soda, (good money makers for me) SO, I will serve coffee, iced tea, and other non carbonated drinks.

I was thinking about chicken but would need a cooler just for them. CA. law..

I dont want to cook anything that takes a chitload of cooktime, I cant, I will loose customers. I need product ready to go by 9:00 am... Ill offer tritip at 10:00am, and all the rest as well. I am bringing an 8 person crew at least.. thanks to family and friends who just want to eat and get me to succeed!! So that frees me up to cook and man fires... LOTS of fire!! hahahah

I will prolly run everything hot to get product out. And still smoke for the afternoon rush, then do over... I will have runners as well, so If I run out, they can go to the store to replentish.. I dont want to do this on every product because I will be at the mercy of their local supermarket, no Costco near there!! :(

Thanks for the help BRETHREN, Im very nervous and sketchy! The local Farmers Markets are a different beast than this. This could make or break my business... I will be handing out samples, and trifolds, and business cards as well.. :)

I will also be taking a chitload of pics!! Need them for marketing! :)

I hope the other bbq vendor isnt a brethren!! If so, please dont take my menu options ;)

That is a very ambitious menu. I hope you sell out of everything, but not until late Sunday afternoon... that would be perfect timing. Most of all, I hope this is a fun and profitable job for your and your crew!

Eager and hungry family are a godsend. We are vending at the Salinas Airshow the end of the month. That is when all of the plane enthusiast relatives come calling. LOL! Going off last year's number we are planning on 1200 orders for the weekend.
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Unread 09-15-2008, 07:57 PM   #10
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Whatever amount of product you end up buying, you gotta do everything you can to get it exchanged for moolah. Sounds like you'll be busy in the back and possibly have an inexperienced person or two on the front line.

If you have "new" help, you might consider tutoring your helpers (at least your point of purchase counter help) on being good salespeople. Make sure your help gets a taste test of all of the offerings so they can enthusiastically suggest items as add-on sales to the initial order. Suggestive selling. Have them steer customers to high profit items. Make it a game between counterhelp that they compete against each other by counting the number of orders they fill that only contains one item. Have an hourly celebration for the winner (multiple item sales) and start the contest over again to bring out the competition in a person.

I don't know if sweet tea is popular in your market, but it would have a good profit margin...every customer needs to leave your stand with a tea or lemonade in hand. "How 'bout a nice cold sweet tea to go along with that tasty sandwich".

Not trying to add to your inventory, but do you have a way to sell chilled or frozen candy bars? Maybe Snickers or Milky Way mini-bars? Everyone loves dessert! You could probably move mini-bars at 50 cents...might run the numbers to see if it is worthwhile. No one likes waiting in a second food line for a sweet treat...tie that thought into a final "super size" sales effort.

Sounds like an exciting, busy weekend surrounded by friends and loved ones...post up how it went!
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Unread 09-16-2008, 02:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butt Ugly View Post
Whatever amount of product you end up buying, you gotta do everything you can to get it exchanged for moolah. Sounds like you'll be busy in the back and possibly have an inexperienced person or two on the front line.

If you have "new" help, you might consider tutoring your helpers (at least your point of purchase counter help) on being good salespeople. Make sure your help gets a taste test of all of the offerings so they can enthusiastically suggest items as add-on sales to the initial order. Suggestive selling. Have them steer customers to high profit items. Make it a game between counterhelp that they compete against each other by counting the number of orders they fill that only contains one item. Have an hourly celebration for the winner (multiple item sales) and start the contest over again to bring out the competition in a person.

I don't know if sweet tea is popular in your market, but it would have a good profit margin...every customer needs to leave your stand with a tea or lemonade in hand. "How 'bout a nice cold sweet tea to go along with that tasty sandwich".

Not trying to add to your inventory, but do you have a way to sell chilled or frozen candy bars? Maybe Snickers or Milky Way mini-bars? Everyone loves dessert! You could probably move mini-bars at 50 cents...might run the numbers to see if it is worthwhile. No one likes waiting in a second food line for a sweet treat...tie that thought into a final "super size" sales effort.

Sounds like an exciting, busy weekend surrounded by friends and loved ones...post up how it went!
Great ideas... THANKS!! Yes wify will be there, she is my main counter girl! We will definetly help with the help.. 2 of them will be strickly sampler and card shellers... UPSELL EVERYTHING!! :)
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Unread 09-18-2008, 09:50 AM   #12
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Qcrue2U,
I hope that the event goes well. Good luck!

If you are trying to make this your profession, you have to be professional. Do you have matching uniforms? At least matching Tee shirts? I took a look at your website and there are obvious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. The folks here don't care, but potential customers might. Anything that you can do to look like a class act will improve your chances of success.
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Unread 09-20-2008, 02:49 AM   #13
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Thanks for the input TysDad... I must be blind because I still do not see any?? I guess I missed it. THANKS - pm me if you can pinpoint, so I may correct them (if the mistakes are on the actual website, then this just became live. I type 40 words a minute so chit happens at times... but if it is the MySpace then that is BAD!!!! ----

We have matching T-Shirts. No uniforms, reminds me of fast food....blah!!!
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Unread 09-20-2008, 09:10 AM   #14
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Man, that is a serious undertaking! I will say a prayer for you! How big is your commercial grill?

May I suggest contacting you local church or lodge and ask them about renting their commercial kitchen?

And if there is anyway you can get around it, precook some of your food for Saturday. If it's already in a tray and in your hot box or smoker, who wouild know when you cooked it?

I'm just saying...
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Unread 09-21-2008, 12:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmista View Post
Man, that is a serious undertaking! I will say a prayer for you! How big is your commercial grill?

May I suggest contacting you local church or lodge and ask them about renting their commercial kitchen?

And if there is anyway you can get around it, precook some of your food for Saturday. If it's already in a tray and in your hot box or smoker, who wouild know when you cooked it?

I'm just saying...
I hate to say it but your last paragraph Bigmista..... is what I am going to do... I will be at the event about an hour early so .....
My commercial grill has 6 burners, 110,000 btu's, plus my generic backyard grill, I will have my offset, and 3 double grilled ECB...
My commercial grill is in my pics section... B.A.M.F. is her nickname
Thanks bro!!
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