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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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Old 05-12-2020, 05:11 AM   #1
Mattb82
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Join Date: 11-09-15
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Default Local Farmers Market

Good Morning Gents

My five year old son and I are obsessed with bbq. I travel a few times a year to train in Texas as central Texas style is our jam. We have a local farmers market that has some great vendors on Saturdays but no bbq. I’m looking to start next year as this year is likely a wash with covid. It runs from June-September but this gives me time to prepare. He really wants to do this one day a week and asks me daily. The kid can cook que on his little portable grill that most adults can’t. We will be using my 250 gallon Austin SW on order so capacity isn’t an issue for what we are doing and if it is I can pull out the outlaw to combine. Now I’m tempted to call ASW and bump to a 500 road pit! I’m currently checking all local regs and signing up for food safety but my biggest question is where to buy briskets/meat to keep this from not losing money. I honestly don’t care if we make a ton because it’s to spend time with my kid, it won’t become my job but it’s our passion and all proceeds go to his college fund. We normally cook SRF Wagyu so my original thought was roll with that and markup finished weights to a 20% profit. I live in north Jersey, zero good bbq here. Not blowing smoke but I can run mean central Texas que now after alll the training and we practice one brisket a week, if we get people to try it they will pay in this area. So I’m really looking for ideas on meat sourcing, grades to cook, and pricing. Thanks everyone, I’m also tempted to rent an empty lot on the busy RT 22 here and put a little food truck that doesn’t move that we can call home once a week. My kids would be in heaven, likely minimal investment
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Old 05-12-2020, 05:41 PM   #2
HBMTN
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Operating on that small of a level you are going to look at buying meats from Sams Club and maybe a Restaurant Depot if you are lucky enough to have one in your area. If New Jersey is like Virginia, you can forget using Prime brisket as they are ridiculously expensive here. If you were one of the normal who post here looking to open a one day a week business I'd recommend against it but I love the thought of you and your son doing something together and only looking to make college fund. Done right, he could have college paid for by the time he graduates high school. Keep us posted on your progress and feel free to PM me anytime you have questions.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:29 PM   #3
BrewHo
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If I were planning something like you describe I’d be looking around for smaller local providers where I could deal direct as much as possible. One thing I’d do is decide what my range is going to be, especially whether I can purchase direct from the farm. I grew up down in South Jersey (NJTP exit 1 then head southeast) and I know there’s local beef produced there. I assume the same is true up toward the northwest corner of the state, out towards Phillipsburg or Dover. I’d spend some weekends cruising looking for farms or local butchers or slaughterhouses. Might be able to play direct from farm as a marketing hook. Just a thought, my thought is it would be lots of fun doing the research, and cruising farms on the weekend with your son teaching him how supply chains work. YMMV of course.
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Old 05-13-2020, 05:14 AM   #4
Mattb82
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Thanks guys and great idea on locally produced. I want to make sure I’m
Cooking prime or something very close so I think it’s a great idea to look at local farms. Definitely not looking at this as a money making operation and the once a week may really be twice a month in more if pop up style. I just want to let him experience something he loves to do at a business level from a young age, I think the experience will be invaluable and good bonding time.
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Old 05-13-2020, 11:21 AM   #5
poorolddan
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You got to get off the Prime or better grade kick. You will be hard pressed to find enough high end buyers who will pay you enough to keep from losing your ass. That is not what you want to teach your son. Also profitable vending depends on returning regular customers. Only selling every other Sat won't impress anyone.
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Old 05-13-2020, 02:06 PM   #6
Mattb82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poorolddan View Post
You got to get off the Prime or better grade kick. You will be hard pressed to find enough high end buyers who will pay you enough to keep from losing your ass. That is not what you want to teach your son. Also profitable vending depends on returning regular customers. Only selling every other Sat won't impress anyone.
keep in mind we aren’t trying to impress anyone by selling weekly. Just trying to impress with quality which I think is extremely important. . If I break even I’m happy, if I slightly lose I’m happy because it’s more of the experience for my son. He’s five so he won’t understand profitability vs losing money quite yet. He will understand teamwork, hard work, follow through, community. I understand what your saying but your viewing this as a business, it’s more a hobby with intent to not lose too much. If I buy in bulk I have to be able to keep costs down some on prime via Costco or restaurant depot. Most of the town comes over for bbq already, I know I can draw enough people in an environment that produces people walking by you with zero competitors for bbq. I’m really just about sourcing, local farms seem to be the way
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Last edited by Mattb82; 05-13-2020 at 02:27 PM..
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Old 05-13-2020, 05:54 PM   #7
HBMTN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattb82 View Post
keep in mind we aren’t trying to impress anyone by selling weekly. Just trying to impress with quality which I think is extremely important. . If I break even I’m happy, if I slightly lose I’m happy because it’s more of the experience for my son. He’s five so he won’t understand profitability vs losing money quite yet. He will understand teamwork, hard work, follow through, community.
So based on what I'm hearing here and you really don't want to turn a profit for yourself then I'd suggest looking into setting it up as a 501C3 nonprofit and do it as a charity and donate the profits for great causes. People will pay more for a product knowing it's going to a good cause (using prime meats) plus it will open up doors to opportunity and your son will learn and feel great about giving back and helping others. WIN-WIN
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Old 05-14-2020, 04:20 AM   #8
Mattb82
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Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
So based on what I'm hearing here and you really don't want to turn a profit for yourself then I'd suggest looking into setting it up as a 501C3 nonprofit and do it as a charity and donate the profits for great causes. People will pay more for a product knowing it's going to a good cause (using prime meats) plus it will open up doors to opportunity and your son will leiarn and feel great about giving back and helping others. WIN-WIN
Absolutely perfect idea. Keeps me at a net wash or close, allows me to cook with him and let’s him see a “business”, gives back to others, brilliant. This is the way to go. Thank you!
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:40 AM   #9
cowboyupbbq
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Its pretty hard to find high end beef at a local farm. I've lived in the country the past 20 years, and before that I helped out on a large farming/cattle operation on the weekends. I've come to know a lot of farmers and ranchers, and have run into a couple issues:

1. The majority of the cattle end up in fast food restaurants.

2. In the rare case that you can find a boutique farm with CAB or higher, the local packing plant will likely cut the briskets into pieces, so it will fit in their small cryovac machine.

I do love the idea and recommend getting some CAB briskets from Sams or Costco and have fun with your son. Also, you could throw some chicken quarters/halves/whole on the menu to improve your product mix and profits.
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Old 05-14-2020, 02:22 PM   #10
mchar69
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Whereabouts on Rte. 22 are you thinking?
You know that have that 28 BBQ in Bound Brook - Portugese style- people think that it's good, and it's just not good. Not at all.
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Old 05-14-2020, 10:35 PM   #11
BrewHo
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Understand what you’re saying, but my experience is otherwise.

Best steak I ever had was at a local steakhouse off I-29 in Rock Port MO. Stopped for lunch, place looked like Bob’s bar in the Blues Brothers. I was about to order a burger when I noticed the menu credited the local butcher who hand cut their steaks so I ordered the tenderloin and got the best beef you could ever imagine.

I’ve had similar experiences at restaurants in Nebraska and Wyoming, really good quality meat at prices that are ridiculously low to anyone from the urban coasts. So to me that indicates there are local butchers who source their livestock locally and you can get good quality at a good price.

Might not be as easy closer into the urban areas, means more legwork and maybe not as tremendous scores. OTOH anybody raising beef in NJ isn’t likely to be working on a scale that fast food restaurant supply chain will spend time on. May work, may not, seems worth a try.

FYI I just within the past week found and bought meat from a small direct farm to consumer market and from a local butcher within an hour of downtown DC, and know of one other direct to market operation that’s on the other side of the city. So I know they do exist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboyupbbq View Post
Its pretty hard to find high end beef at a local farm. I've lived in the country the past 20 years, and before that I helped out on a large farming/cattle operation on the weekends. I've come to know a lot of farmers and ranchers, and have run into a couple issues:

1. The majority of the cattle end up in fast food restaurants.

2. In the rare case that you can find a boutique farm with CAB or higher, the local packing plant will likely cut the briskets into pieces, so it will fit in their small cryovac machine.

I do love the idea and recommend getting some CAB briskets from Sams or Costco and have fun with your son. Also, you could throw some chicken quarters/halves/whole on the menu to improve your product mix and profits.
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:21 AM   #12
Mattb82
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Thanks for all the help guys. MChar the scotch plains farmers market, we already do some for our church as well. I started the process for the non profit. My main goal is to do something we love, show him what’s involved in a business with hard work, help feed people. Plus it gives me a really good alibi when my new ASW shows up in October and the wife flips out. I’m going to stick with creek stone primes or SRF Waugyu. Brisket sells for about $23 a pound by me so I’ll break even or be close if I buy in bulk and the non profit designation will help as well. The likely scenario is I lose because I want to donate a bunch of pulled pork locally.
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Old 05-15-2020, 07:32 AM   #13
Bbq Bubba
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Once you realize the thousands of $$$ this will cost you to do twice a month I'm sure you'll realize that your better off just cooking with your son at home.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:51 PM   #14
SmoothBoarBBQ
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It depends on states, but so called "Cottage Laws" generally won't cover proteins, so you'll have to jump through all the same hoops you would if you were to open a restaurant or food truck. You'll likely need to pay for a commissary kitchen as that is where you will need to do all of your prep work and cooking...good lucking trying to cook on a wood smoker in most areas as well. There's a reason why certain areas have zero BBQ places and a lot of it is because the local health departments refuse to allow people to cook on wood smokers.

Just make sure you know what you're getting into...liability, food safety, state food code, etc.. Doing this is unfortunately opening massive can of worms and it's likely why someone else isn't already filling the "BBQ void" at your farmers market.

Also, there's ZERO chance of making any kind of profit by cooking SRF Waygu briskets. You'll need to look into something like Sam's Club or Restaurant Depot. Sam's Club is OK, but wholly unreliable in terms of what they will have when you show up. Sometimes the bins are full of briskets, and other times they have nothing...best reason the butcher gives me is "nothing showed up on the truck this morning." Restaurant Depot is much better in terms of availability but you'll need an EIN and / or business license to shop there...this can be altered by having a KCBS membership though as that will grant you access to Restaurant Depot.

Good luck but be VERY thorough when it comes to the liabilities and hoops involved before you start serving food to the public. It's usually not worth the effort or cost.
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Old 05-19-2020, 04:38 AM   #15
BuffaloDave
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You won't be able to source brisket from a local farm. We have a couple local farms putting out high end beef- problem is they just don't have huge herds. Commodity is likely your only option and even that's through the roof right now.
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