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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 07-11-2009, 06:46 PM   #1
Wesman61
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Default I'm Planning to Start a Catering Business.

Ok so after catering 4 separate events of 20-50 people I've decided it's what I was born to do. I work as a maintenance mechanic in a bread dough factory and have been in business before so I have some knowledge going into this but need to learn a lot more. I'm reading all the info on this awesome forum and will be talking to the HD this week. I think the laws and/or the enforcement of them are somewhat lax here in Idaho. There are people who prepare out of their homes so the upstart costs shouldn't be too prohibitive. I bought a couple of 10qt. chafers yesterday for $35.00 ea. I'm looking to get the CS Whole Hog for going to local fairs etc to start building a name.

I'm have a creative personality and business runs in the family. I have the motivation and desire to do this and people really go bonkers over my cooking. I don't go by their compliments as much as by the way the go for seconds. (The Superviser ate 5 or 6 pieces of the chicken I cooked for a safety meal the other day.)

So any caveats. Pep talks. Should I get back in bed till tomorrow and forget this kind of thinking? LOL
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Unread 07-11-2009, 07:22 PM   #2
landarc
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Far as I am concerned, having been in business for over 25 years, the way I see it is...anyone that would quit a good job to start their own small business is farking nuts. Go for it, don't look back. Nothing wrong with being a little crazy.
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Unread 07-11-2009, 08:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
Far as I am concerned, having been in business for over 25 years, the way I see it is...anyone that would quit a good job to start their own small business is farking nuts. Go for it, don't look back. Nothing wrong with being a little crazy.
I don't plan on quiting right away. I have weekends off and my Wife recently became an RN so we're in a good position if the going gets tough. I meant to say that I've only been a mechanic to pay the bills but it's not in my blood. I am getting really tired of it.
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Unread 07-11-2009, 08:57 PM   #4
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I have been a construction supervisor for going on about 12 years. I love my work, don't get me wrong, but there's certain satisfaction I get from catering. Go for it.
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Unread 07-11-2009, 09:11 PM   #5
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I am a Global Project Manager by weekday and BBQ Catering by Weekend. GO FOR IT. You can pick-up the equipment as you go to make life easier and do larger events. I was using a Brinkman offset smoker $150 3 years ago and am looking to purchase a $17K Southern Pride SK1000 Smoker trailer mounted in 3 months (1000 lb of meat).

The beauty of doing weekends is you still have a steady income while you learn the ropes and make mistakes. The down-side is it is hard work so you farkin work all the time.

I would suggest a couple of things to start:
1) Visit your local Health Department and see what you need to be legal.
2) Get a buisness licence at the County Court House.
3) Look into insurance (BOND) for your safety and most Festivals will require a $1M Bond and Health certificate prior to serving the public.
4) See if the Health department offers Food Handling Classes. BBQ is consider HAZARDOUS food, and to keep everyone safe it is a good idea to know holding temps, washing and steralizing procedures, etc.

GO FOR IT and if you don't have a passion for Qing, you will soon know it.
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Unread 07-11-2009, 11:39 PM   #6
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If it's what you love....then do it.
But; before you spend any money...talk to the Health Department and
find out exactly what the laws are. Some places require your grill to be
made out of Stainless Steel.
I have heard that for example, the laws about selling food on the streets in
Florida are very strict ....so some people get around the law by only selling
on weekends when the Health Department is closed.

If you want to sell at places like the State Fair or Rodeos and other events
keep in mind that for some of them you will need to reserve a space at
the event, Months, or even a Year in advance.

When you look for a smoking rig...keep in mind you will probably need to
make sure it has storage for plenty of wood, and coolers for your potato
salad and coleslaw and what ever soda and drinks you will be selling.
Plus, you will need to have space to keep hot dog & hamburger buns.
And other stuff as well. Or you can get some kind of support truck, like
a lage van or something to pull your rig and keep your buns, and drinks,
and other supplies in. Doing it out of a car or pickup truck doesn't work
very well; unless you only cater small events.

I did a coulple of events at a large church where other people were selling
pizza, and turkey legs and other items. I had some experience before, so
I was well stocked with "sterno canned heat" and sold some to
other people that weren't prepared.
Also, make sure you have LOTS of change; by this I mean
$1 dollar & $5 dollar bills. Most people will pay you with a $20 dollar bill,
you will also get people paying with $100 dollar bills.

I also found it was much faster and easier to make all my prices to the
whole dollar price....$8 or $4 or whatever, trying to get 15 cents in change
for somebody was crazy, and really slowed things down. Sell cans of
soda for $1 ....and check on your competition...if they are selling soda
for $2, you can too.

Have a good option for your customers...I think I sold my Rib dinner
(3 pork ribs & beans and potato salad) for $8....the same for Beef
Brisket sandwich. But; I had a 1/4 lb. Polish Sausage for $4 too.
I sold a lot of them. You should be able to buy a case of them pretty
cheap at Sam's Club.
One last thing...I learned real fast to open all the packages of Hot Dog
buns and separate all of them...because if you get busy, you wont have
time to open a package of buns and reach in and pull one off. That eats
up much more time than you think it does.

There's more...but; that's enough for now.
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Unread 07-12-2009, 12:16 AM   #7
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Thanks Guys! This actually makes me more excited rather than afraid. I'll be 48 in Aug. and although catering may be a lot of work, what I'm doing now is not what I want to be doing when I'm 60.

I would really like to do a Tex-Mex type thing. That is, bbq beef, ribs, chili, fajitas, pulled pork and maybe some kind of hot link or polish sausage dogs (although maybe not all at the same time). Right now I'm just mainly doing a one entree meal at work once a month and smoked beef or pork with beans and potato salad for parties. I'm learning the ropes about cost and buying in bulk etc. Although I'm still green it's really the most fun I've ever had. For some reason it's like my creativity really comes alive when I'm doing this. That's why I said I was born to do this. It just seems to come more natural than anything else I've done.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 03:16 PM   #8
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Take it gradually and see if that is what you want to do. I can tell you right now those 20-30 people gigs aint got nothing on a 200 people gig. You start running out of food or a full pan gets knocked over by a drunk, then the gig goes to hell in a hat basket. Nothing like a little complications to make it all fun.

I could never do catering for a living, it doesn't pay enough, but thats the beauty of it, I can cater and still have fun. I try to do one or two jobs a month and i get my fix. You might find this will also work for you. I could do a restaurant for a living, but then I would try for OPM.

There are some of us here that can give you some good advice. Just keep it simple to keep it fun. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 04:10 PM   #9
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Good luck and pay for everything as you go along (cash)
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Unread 07-13-2009, 06:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Good luck and pay for everything as you go along (cash)

only way to fly....
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Unread 07-13-2009, 07:28 PM   #11
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Go for it bro. Quote for a famous deceased football coach
"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit. You will be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards" Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Good luck
Mike
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Unread 07-13-2009, 08:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big brother smoke View Post
Good luck and pay for everything as you go along (cash)
I borrowed a bunch of money to start a music store in the mid 90's that failed miserably. I learned my lesson. I also learned a lot of other things about business in general that should help. I figured I could make do with my Traeger 070 till I find out if I can make some money then adding a larger smoker later. I also have an off-set for the Purists.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 08:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokinrubcom View Post
Go for it bro. Quote for a famous deceased football coach
"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit. You will be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards" Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Good luck
Mike
Thanks! I'll probably need that inspiration at times.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 08:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesman61 View Post
Thanks! I'll probably need that inspiration at times.
Your welcome bro! Like I said - good luck with it and PLEASE keep us posted on your progress :)

Mike
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Unread 07-13-2009, 08:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokinrubcom View Post
Your welcome bro! Like I said - good luck with it and PLEASE keep us posted on your progress :)

Mike
Progress? Well let's see. I work the night shift but I'm on vacation this week. We're switching houses with my Parents and I'm getting some last minute things done. Mainly tiling the shower. I had planned on going to the HD today but I couldn't fall asleep last night and ended up sleeping till 3pm. So day 1 was a flop. LOL Tomorrow though...
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