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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 02-22-2009, 08:33 PM   #1
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Default Please correct or confirm my thought process

I am kind of new to the catering world. I did about 4 jobs last year and also sell butts on ocassion to people. So far I have not made any money to speak off. So for 2009 this is my thoughts.

Catering for 50 people minimum (charge wise) If I figure 1/2lb cooked pulled pork per person, 50lbs raw pork current price here is $1.29 per lb x 50lbs=$64.50 I figure between wood, charcoal, rub, sauce, tin pans, foil, misc supplies I'll have another $50 cost. Making my cost on a group of 50 people $2.30 per person. I think it is worth at least $300 in my pocket after cost to go throught the entire prep,cook, serv and clean up process (correct me if wrong hi or low), and at least worth $100 to pull my pit somewhere in the county to set up on site for a party. This would bring the minimum total for an on site for pulled pork to $515 or $10.30 per person. Then I figure for sides I would charge $1.50 per side per person. Drink standard would be tea & lemonade for $1.00 per person. Dessert at $1.50 per person for most desserts. Bringing the total per person for the whole shibang to $15.80 per person with two sides.

Could I get some opinions from you more experienced people on where or if my thought process is wrong. It sounds high to me but what do people pay to have a fully catered BBQ? I thought if things go good I would get further into catering i.e catering trailer, insurance, business license and so forth. What do you think?
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Unread 02-22-2009, 09:13 PM   #2
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Well, I am not trying to rain on your idea here, but I think you are approaching this backwards. Please for you and your families protection, start with the business license, insurance and (if needed in your area) health permit, and then go for pricing.
I am not knocking your abilities or how clean you keep your operation, but CYA. It is where we started and would not have done it any other way.
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Unread 02-22-2009, 09:40 PM   #3
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I agree but that is kind of what I am trying to figure out. Here in Va you are required to get a certified kitchen to cook unless you are setting up and cooking bbq on site (personal chef). I would like to go the way you say but if I am looking to see if this is feasable part time and get an idea of what I can charge or what people will pay. For instance if the feedback I get says no way I would have to be in the $9-11 range or $20-25 range. What is the right price range to justify buying a catering trailer, and getting set up legally.

I have been in the auto repair industry for 21 years and I am 37 year old. I am ready to find another way to make a living by doing something I love but would have to do it in steps. I would like to start out catering and then maybe step it up to full time take out or maybe even a restaraunt, but need to get an idea of weather I can make enough to justify it.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 12:51 AM   #4
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Remember---the best way to make a small fortune in the BBQ business is to start out with a large fortune.

and-- Behind every successful BBQ man there is a woman with a job in town

Side dishes are your friend. Meat is your most expensive ingredient to buy---if you are selling meat by itself you are hurting yourself. The greatist profit can be made from your least expensive ingredients---dried pinto beans--rice --potatoes etc.
Base your pricing on a plate with meat-2 side dishes and some sort of bread--corn bread-biscuits-garlic bread. Then the price of a plate will look like more of a VALUE to the customer.

Go into any fast food place----order just a burger---I guarantee that they will try to sell you a meal with fries and a drink. They make greatist profit on drinks and next most on fries----and they love to "supersize" because it makes them more profit. You can increase profit with your side dishes.

I agree that you should get all permits and try to be "Plumb Square and Level"----it will prevent severe problems later
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Unread 02-23-2009, 07:05 AM   #5
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Isn't a 1/2 pound of meat a little much?
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Unread 02-23-2009, 07:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trp1fox View Post
Isn't a 1/2 pound of meat a little much?
I was thinking the same thing. If it is gonna be sammies, the usual allowance is 1/4 to 1/3 lb each.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 08:13 AM   #7
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Don't forget Shrinkage.

Get your legal stuff done first.

When I moved from CT to Texas I went from a Legal vendor to a non-person BBQ wise. Right now all I can do is help out in a kitchen (cooking through church for the rotary as a guest).

Could I take a little job (that has been offered to me) on the side? Sure. But if I get caught... it makes getting approved REAL hard because you have a record of selling without proper license.

This holds true even when you are making stuff for friends and private parties. It may seem private to you but man remember HD sees things differently and can make ur life difficult if you ever plan to go legal.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 05:30 PM   #8
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I was figuring a sammy is usually a 1/3lb and figured most would eat two or a plate full with no bun. I was also figuring my pricing by a buffet not by the plate, is this the wrong way to do it? I plan on going to talk with the health dept in April. All I have done so far is small stuff for family and friends, and sell friends butts. My goal would be to do 6-8 catering jobs this year and get a catering trailer and get set up through the HD in the spring. I think here in VA you can pull up to 8 permits per year to cook without a certified kitchen by pulling a permit and fee and the HD comes that morning and inspects your set up and you are good for the day. After that they say get a kitchen. I can see the point to side dishes also.

What do you all think as far as pricing? My pit will hold 24 butts maxed out. I can see where it could be done much cheaper if I had an Old Hickory where I am not up all night labor wise but then again my pit is paid for and someone with a Old Hickory may sleep but they are forking out the $$$ for an expensive pit.
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Unread 02-24-2009, 01:47 PM   #9
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Your price seems high to me. $15+pp for pulled pork with 2 sides and a drink is a little high. I can go to a BBQ joint and get a pulled pork platter with 1 or 2 sides for a lot less than $15. Search around the internet and look at what other BBQ joints charge for catering (look for links in the signatures on this site).
You priced it by adding your profit in the beginning at $6pp. Plus, $2 pp to bring your pit. Have a price to bring your smoker separate from the food cost. You can deliver and serve food without having to take the smoker - warm up ahead of time and use Cambro's.
You should calculate all of your cost first. I didn't see cost of buns, napkins, paper plates, forks, cups, etc. Don't guess you have $50 in misc. item, cost it all out; otherwise, you may leave yourself short. Figure the cost of each side. $1.50 is probably okay for sides. You need a per person price with a minimum of xx people. Suppose they want to do it for 20, 40 or 80. Your profit will be based on number of people, not flat rate per event ( $300 in you example).

Example:
Your cost of 2.30 / sammie sounds about right - 2.50 with bun, plate, napkin, fork.
Side cost vary but 5 lbs tubs of potao salad and cole slaw and large cans of beans plus a little fixing up before you take it - no more than .50 per serving per side.
Tea and lemonade are cheap - .15 per cup plus .15 for the cup ( the cost of the cup is more than the drink ).
Your cost= 2.50 (sammie) + 1.00 (2 sides) + .30 (drink) = 3.80 pp x 50 = $190

If you charge 9.95 pp delivered and set-up on tables = 497.50. At $9.95pp, your gross profit is $6.15pp x 50 = 307.50 gross profit
Some say a general catering rule of thumb is cost times 3. 3.80 x 3 = $11.40pp. Gross profit = $7.60pp ( x 50 = 380 gross profit )

I say gross profit because you have overhead cost for transportation, tables, canopies, equipment, labor, etc.

Pit on site = 150.00 for 4 hours; $25 per hour after that or use a flat rate of 150. Hauling your pit can be a pain to get into a park, backyard.
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Last edited by Just Smokin' Around; 02-24-2009 at 02:18 PM..
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Unread 02-24-2009, 02:51 PM   #10
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What they said for the most part. You would be wise to peruse this section as well if you have not. http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=51391
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Unread 02-25-2009, 07:06 AM   #11
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Bill thank you for that information, that was exactly what I was looking for, one question though are your figures above based on one plate per person? Are you charging for a plate per person or what if half of them eat 2 plate or even three?
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Unread 02-25-2009, 10:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HogBack Mtn Comp BBQ Team View Post
Bill thank you for that information, that was exactly what I was looking for, one question though are your figures above based on one plate per person? Are you charging for a plate per person or what if half of them eat 2 plate or even three?
They are based on 1 "serving" per person - that could be a plate. However, it should be a decent serving whether it's chicken, brisket or burgers and dogs.
I based that on 80 sammies for 50 people. That's 1.5 per person. Woman and kids will probably eat 1, men will eat 2. When you cater, you need to spell out to the customer what they are getting. That's why you need to know your cost up front and the portion for each serving.
In the case above, tell the customer they are getting enough for 1.5 sammies, 2 sides (probably a little more), and drinks ( I forgot the desert ) per person. If the customer thinks they need more food per person, then they would need to order for more people. So, they may say I want food for 60 to get the extra meat and sides even though they are serving 50. You then charge them your per person rate for 60. Another option would be to sell them extra meat for ~ $10/lb plus buns at xx each.
There are books available on how to vend and set-up catering gigs. They will explain the pros and cons of big rigs vs tents vs trailers; pricing, setting up your business (when you get to that stage - 1 day HD permits are fine for now) The links provided in this thread are very good. Read through those. Keep searching for information and take it all in before you get too far. Everybodys situation is a little different depending on where you are and what the market is. I'm not sure whee you are in VA, but if your in the country, you can't get the same kind of price you do in the city or suburbs.
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Unread 03-01-2009, 10:15 AM   #13
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I too have been working on a BP for catering/comps for quite some time. There are some costs you are missing. My comments that follow are what I've discovered here (Boulder County Colorado) over the last year.

OK, even though you may have commissary privaleges somewhere doesn't remove you the sink requirement for hand washing. If you think that through, you need a water source, a heating source and a gray-water tank. If you don't have commissary privaleges, start think addition sinks (dishwashing, rinsing, sterilizing, and mop). Claim that you won't be washing things? How about cutting boards, knives, pots for heating beans etc. How about the grates in the cooker? It gets complicated quick.

If you're serving beans as a side, even just canned beans, you have to have a way to rapidly heat them. Putting them in the pit won't cut it as far as my HD is concerned. So now you need a propane burner/stand. Even the hot dog carts here have to have a hand washing sink.

Ice is an approved way to keep things cold that need to be kept cold, but there is a requirement that all food storage has to be so many inches off the ground. Now you got figure a way to keep the coolers off the ground. Not a biggy but something else you got to lug around. And what to do with the melted ice? FYI, letting it sink into the dirt isn't approved.

To sell at comps here, you have to a food service license. Now I'm beginning to understand why there are so many non-vending teams at these things.

And there is the NSF thing. Is your pit NSF certified? The local HD here said they would evaluate the pit when I submit my application since I haven't bought it yet. Looking at brochures won't work and they won't commit to an approval until they can look at and touch it. What if what I purchase won't cut it? Out several thousands of dollars I guess. Hence, my interest in the FECs and FatBoyz. That NSF certification is gold to me.

Other hidden costs, or at least questions you should have an answer to is disposing of grease, gray water, and trash (eg cryovac wrappers, paper plates). I think insurance has already been mentioned.

I've decided to go totally above board, even though most of the folks that I know that "cater" claim the Personal Chef thing. And then they are not fitting the requirement of only cooking at the clients house using only the clients equipment (ovens, stoves, knives etc) as they all cook at home and them haul the prepare food to where they are catering.

Interestingly, no in my neck of the woods is catering BBQ save a few resteraunts that deliver. No one that is "legal" is cooking on-site.

All that said, I've looked at the prevailing prices that my competitors are charging. I've looked at my projected costs (upfront, ongoing, and hidden) and know that I can make a profit. Will I get rich overnight? No, but I think I can make a comfortable living doing this in a few years.

Anyway, I hope some of what I wrote is helpful to you.
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