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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 11-17-2019, 09:49 AM   #31
BrandonBBQ
On the road to being a farker

 
Join Date: 08-31-18
Location: Warsaw, IN
Name/Nickname : Brandon
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It's been a crazy few months that has turned into me catering 5 different parties for up to 80 people with plenty of room.

So Thursday of last week, I asked my business lawyer to kick the tires and light the fires on "THE SMOKE & SWINE CO., LLC"

Thank you for all your help brethren.



This is going to be a wild ride and we're getting ready to roll!
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:55 AM   #32
Stingerhook
somebody shut me the fark up.

 
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Congrat's Brandon.
Make sure you update this thread or star a new one on your new venture.
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Old 11-27-2019, 11:55 AM   #33
cabrego
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Join Date: 07-30-19
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Hi Brandon, we have a similar startup story. My wife and I both have full time jobs and started South Texas Barbecue Co.-WV, check us out on FB if you have a chance!



Since, July 13, we've had around 20 events including several catering gigs ranging in the 50-125. As I'm sure you know it's a ton of work balancing your 'real job' and the side gig. We also have kids, and they have been able to participate too!


We started this basically as cheap as possible, we did however get a large smoker to ensure we were able to produce the amount of meat we could serve. We do everything pop up tent style for now.


Congrats, and feel free to reach out if you ever want to bounce some ideas!
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Old 11-28-2019, 04:50 AM   #34
BrandonBBQ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabrego View Post
Hi Brandon, we have a similar startup story. My wife and I both have full time jobs and started South Texas Barbecue Co.-WV, check us out on FB if you have a chance!

Since, July 13, we've had around 20 events including several catering gigs ranging in the 50-125. As I'm sure you know it's a ton of work balancing your 'real job' and the side gig. We also have kids, and they have been able to participate too!

We started this basically as cheap as possible, we did however get a large smoker to ensure we were able to produce the amount of meat we could serve. We do everything pop up tent style for now.

Congrats, and feel free to reach out if you ever want to bounce some ideas!
So awesome to hear stories like this!

I will be starting as cheap as possible too and have been really thinking about the pop-up tent style. I have a 1 year old as well and more than likely will have another one here in the next couple of years. As well as the day gig it is definitely alot to balance but I love it!

There is another guy in town that does it once a week tent-popup on Saturday and pretty much sells out every time. I'm wanting to make it more like a to-go place and will have an app for pre-orders/pickups.

The only hurdles left to clear are the commissary agreement that I'm actively working on and then just purchasing and outfitting the trailer. I have secured 3 or 4 spots already to park it that are all private property and have quite a bit of traffic. A chef friend of mine has graciously offered to help setup the trailer for maximum efficiency when I get it so that should be a massive help. Most of what I'll need is just Cambro (or other warming boxes) and refrigeration.

I appreciate the insight and will definitely reach out! Congrats on your outfit as well and hopefully one day we'll get to share some 'Que.
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The Smoke & Swine Co.

On the trailer:
Stumps XL Stretch

On the patio:
BBQ Guru Shotgun - Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha - WSM 18.5 - Weber Q2200 - Masterbuilt MES 130B
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Old 11-30-2019, 10:28 AM   #35
medic92
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Is there an American Legion or VFW or Knights of Columbus in your town? Most of the time they'll have a commercial kitchen and they'll let you rent it as your commissary, sometimes for as little as cooking for their monthly meetings. Check with local churches as well, a lot of them have commercial kitchens as well.
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Old 12-10-2019, 05:26 AM   #36
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Seems like you are well on your way to some measured success. I hope it goes well for you and I note some absolutely golden advice here.

Personally, I took a different path and decided not to do what you've done, so i'm coming at you from that perspective.

1. Your current job you are very good at, It makes you more money than catering is likely to AND gives you the spare time to AFFORD a really nice backyard or patio setup and wow your envious guests on a weekend AND spent time with your kids who need you now. Is this going to happen when you get bogged down on the 4 or 5th Catering gig for the month.... Be careful about turning a hobby into a business.

2. As Medic 92 has clearly illustrated: it's a business. Consistancy is king. Pricing and QC is crucial. How are you going to handle real customers when someone actually doesn't like the ribs and wants their money back. How are you going to handle it when you find that someone you just employed (or worse... it's family) is responsible for screwing something up that resulted in that problem with the unhappy customer. This is when the "hobby" starts not being fun any more.

3. Are you an easy touch... Are you the kind of bloke that can't delegate and as a result decided to do it all himself rather than getting others to do their job. How is this going to affect your paying job when get back into the office on Monday and you are too tired to do your job properly and things suffer. Could you be that guy?

I weighed up those things and was pretty sure I'd screw up even though people said the same thing to me... "Best brisket I've ever tasted" ... but they'd tasted exactly ONE brisket before because of where I live. In a word... know your own capabilities. The world is littered with bitter people who opened up a restaurant or some kind of catering business because their friends said it was a good idea. Their friends weren't around to see them fail. Could that be you?

Honestly I still dream of doing it, but it's a dream. I put out killer BBQ for home and friends but have a well paying job I can get back to during the week. They say... "Open a BBQ Restaurant. It will be fun" And you give them a knowing look and ask them for a $50,000 investment just to watch the smile disappear off their faces. Could this be you?

Probably not, but ask yourself the question just the same.

Cheers!
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Last edited by SmokinAussie; 12-10-2019 at 05:36 AM..
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Old 12-10-2019, 08:51 AM   #37
NickTheGreat
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I just started reading, and didn't realize this thread started some months ago. Glad it's working out well for you!
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:15 PM   #38
BigDaveBBQ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonBBQ View Post
So awesome to hear stories like this!

I will be starting as cheap as possible too and have been really thinking about the pop-up tent style. I have a 1 year old as well and more than likely will have another one here in the next couple of years. As well as the day gig it is definitely alot to balance but I love it!

There is another guy in town that does it once a week tent-popup on Saturday and pretty much sells out every time. I'm wanting to make it more like a to-go place and will have an app for pre-orders/pickups.

The only hurdles left to clear are the commissary agreement that I'm actively working on and then just purchasing and outfitting the trailer. I have secured 3 or 4 spots already to park it that are all private property and have quite a bit of traffic. A chef friend of mine has graciously offered to help setup the trailer for maximum efficiency when I get it so that should be a massive help. Most of what I'll need is just Cambro (or other warming boxes) and refrigeration.

I appreciate the insight and will definitely reach out! Congrats on your outfit as well and hopefully one day we'll get to share some 'Que.
Hey brandon,

How are things? Any update to the business and pics of your trailer set up?

Looking forward to following along on your story in 2020?
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:52 PM   #39
bdspann
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You are Awesome Sir.... Thanks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by medic92 View Post
Now that the shameless plug is over...

First and foremost, invest in a good pair of shoes with good arch support and cushion. I honestly can't stress this enough.

Cooking for business is different than cooking for yourself. You're locked in to producing a good consistent result over and over and over again so your chances to experiment with different flavors and ideas get stunted somewhat. Have you ever gone somewhere that you've been patronizing for years and suddenly your favorite item tastes different? It throws you off and even if it's good you're going to miss the old way it was done. Once you've got the process nailed down, changing it can be a challenge. So make sure you're perfectly happy with your recipes and methods. If you decide down the road your rubs are too expensive or time-consuming, it can be tough to change it up.

Don't undervalue your product. Realizing you're not charging enough and raising prices will not win you any friends or customers. Figure out what everything costs. Maybe you're barbecue sauce costs you 25 cents per two ounces, but don't forget to factor in the cost of the containers and the prep time, right down to the amount of gas the stove uses. It's hard to control overhead when you forget small things that add up.

Social media is your friend! I do virtually no advertising whatsoever outside of Facebook and Instagram. As soon as you have your plan in place start a Facebook and Instagram page. Use lots of pictures, add a video here and there, and use the "Boost" feature on Facebook. You can create a huge buzz of anticipation in your area. A couple of free food tastings where you hand out samples before you open can also help a lot.

Talk to other restaurant managers/owners in the area. There will probably be a couple that won't talk to you, but you'll be surprised at how helpful they can be.

I see you have a fair amount of manufacturing in Warsaw. Every single plant should have a stack of menus dropped off in their break rooms along with lunch specials, especially an "on the go" menu that they can pick up quickly on a short lunch. Also emphasize the catering with them. Catering staff meetings and other functions with those places can send your business into the stratosphere.

Be ready to work harder than you ever have in your life. I've done everything from the military to being a paramedic to working in factories and I've never worked as hard as I have these last couple of years. Cooking for the public is a huge undertaking that shouldn't be taken lightly. I did and it made the learning curve extremely steep.

Study your processes constantly. You should always be looking at ways you can do things more efficiently, faster, and for less cost and more profit. Do that without sacrificing quality and you'll be in good shape.

People are going to invite you to set up at festivals and fairs. Personally, I wouldn't do it your first year. It costs to reserve a spot and without name recognition you'll sit there and watch places with inferior food make a killing just because they've been there for years and you don't have enough of a reputation established.

That's about it for now. I'm sure I'll think of 200 other things as soon as I post this. If you want to pm me, I'll be glad to share my phone number and talk to you about it any time.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:54 PM   #40
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I am learning how to post in the forum
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:27 PM   #41
BrandonBBQ
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Join Date: 08-31-18
Location: Warsaw, IN
Name/Nickname : Brandon
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So thank you all for posting on this. My wife and I have been building a house since October so I've only been perfecting the process and working on marketing.

Here's where The Smoke & Swine Co. is currently.

I'm a tech & marketing guy by trade, study business and accounting religiously, and make the best BBQ in town.

My biggest hurdle has been finding someone that I trust that knows their way around a commercial kitchen and can also keep us compliant.

A good buddy of mine not only has $$$ to invest, but also worked in a kitchen for 14 years and ran it for the last 4 of those. He also brings some menu items I never would have thought of but are going to absolutely kill it. Hes originally from Bolivia and lived in Miami/South Florida for a long time. So we're going to do a Hispanic fusion BBQ joint. Being in the midwest, we're not married to any specific "type" of 'que and I really like the options of ways to serve it.

- Business registered
- Comissary agreement being signed in the next 30 days
- working on being exclusive provider of food for a golf course here
- 12 events in 2019
- 2 events completed, and 6 on the books already starting in May ranging from 30 to 400 people in 2020
- purchasing the trailer and other equip in April

Still a TON of work to do but it's definitely happening. Will update more as we progress.

Cheers yall!




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Brandon McGinnis
The Smoke & Swine Co.

On the trailer:
Stumps XL Stretch

On the patio:
BBQ Guru Shotgun - Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha - WSM 18.5 - Weber Q2200 - Masterbuilt MES 130B

Last edited by BrandonBBQ; 02-15-2020 at 09:48 PM..
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Old 02-22-2020, 10:28 PM   #42
BrandonBBQ
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Location: Warsaw, IN
Name/Nickname : Brandon
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Fingers crossed, new trailer (and massive new-to-me) smoker will be here next week.

Also meeting with a potential commissary provider that could blossom into being their exclusive food provider (they dont want to deal with a "kitchen")

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
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Brandon McGinnis
The Smoke & Swine Co.

On the trailer:
Stumps XL Stretch

On the patio:
BBQ Guru Shotgun - Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha - WSM 18.5 - Weber Q2200 - Masterbuilt MES 130B
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Old 02-29-2020, 02:51 PM   #43
BigDaveBBQ
Got Wood.
 
Join Date: 06-25-19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonBBQ View Post
Fingers crossed, new trailer (and massive new-to-me) smoker will be here next week.

Also meeting with a potential commissary provider that could blossom into being their exclusive food provider (they dont want to deal with a "kitchen")

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
Man that is awesome Thanks for the update! My trailer is an unenclosed trailer that is being fabbed now. We are going on week 2. Hopefully will be posting pictures start to finish in the next 2 weeks. I have a golf course right across the street as well that I want to partner up with for outside catering.

Make sure you post some pics of your trailer and smoker here for us to continue to follow along.
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Old 03-01-2020, 08:45 AM   #44
pharp
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Join Date: 04-11-16
Location: Fayetteville, AR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonBBQ View Post
Fingers crossed, new trailer (and massive new-to-me) smoker will be here next week.

Also meeting with a potential commissary provider that could blossom into being their exclusive food provider (they dont want to deal with a "kitchen")

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
Pics!!
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Old 03-01-2020, 11:56 AM   #45
BrandonBBQ
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Name/Nickname : Brandon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pharp View Post
Pics!!
They're coming soon!

The trailer was delivered and I can't wait to get cooking on it. The smoker is MASSIVE and going to help our capacity like crazy.

The past 2 weeks have been insane for us at the Smoke & Swine Co.

We secured the deal to use as a commissary AND to provide meat for the golf course 2x weekly. We can also setup the trailer as many weekends as we want on the to sell food at "the turn" (that's between hole 9 and hole 10 on a golf course where golfers get food/drinks/etc..)

We're pivoting away from going all in on serving lunch, etc... and focusing more on catering and events. We have been asked to do 4 events in May/June totaling over 1500 people! The reception we've gotten has been so encouraging and motivating. The Economic Development board is ready to help us get involved in other local events as soon as we get inspected. This also allows us to avoid needing a range hood and fire suppression system inside the trailer.

The Health Department has been absolutely awesome to work with so far and the inspector is willing to come out and walk us through things before the actual inspection. Fingers crossed we do things right!

We are working on getting it outfitted with mostly countertop height or prep table equipment to facilitate our needs.

Stay tuned, this is going to be AWESOME!
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The Smoke & Swine Co.

On the trailer:
Stumps XL Stretch

On the patio:
BBQ Guru Shotgun - Grilla Grills Silverbac Alpha - WSM 18.5 - Weber Q2200 - Masterbuilt MES 130B
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