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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 12-11-2013, 01:25 PM   #1
SkinEz
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I enjoy smoking, and everyone raves about my cooking. I have cooked for a couple little league functions, and some church gatherings. I was contemplating about trying to actually run some type of catering/concession business. I have been looking to see what licenses and the likes I need to acquire before I really jump in both feet. I also have been looking into putting together a business plan. Can anyone really line out what I need to focus on, before I drive myself crazy searching for a thousand different things. I appreciate any honest advice. And before you ask I am half nuts.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 03:40 PM   #2
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You can start with getting business licenses, serve-safe certifications, and obviously equipment. But also think about advertising, web site, social media. Will you be more of a food truck, or full service catering? Do you have Brick & mortar or totally mobile on site cooking? weddings, or corporate/vending. I guess I am asking do you know what you want to do besides just cook? Goal- is this supposed to support you or is it a hobby? Time commitment, If you are going all in, you won't be home much in the evenings. If you are doing mobile catering, you may need licenses for multiple counties in your area so you can reach a wider range. I know this is a lot but its all part of the picture.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 05:26 PM   #3
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Is it worth it is a question we can not answer for you really. A lot of it depends on what you want to get out of it. If you currently have a job that you like and make decent money and enjoy some time off then no I would not recommend it. If you are looking for extra money and potentially replacing your current job then yes it can be great. You will not have a weekend life between April on November. I would suggest maybe interning with a caterer a few weeks or see if you can pull a few temporary permits to sell road side, that will give you an idea how you like it.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 05:39 PM   #4
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I agree with HBMTN, we can't answer that for you. To some degree, that is a value call. I can tell you, for me, becoming a chef was a dream, then when I worked at it, while in high school and college, I realized that it was not for me. Too many long hours, not enough time away from work.

But, the way to start any business is with research. Talk with people in the business, talk to the health deparment, and food suppliers, research sourcing and wholesale costs and do the business plan. Once you build the business plan, with all the costs and time allotments, you will know where your passion lies.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 06:18 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. To shed some light on the topic. I was a dual status technician with the WV National Guard, but was medically discharged and forced into early retirement. I returned to school to complete a degree I started years ago, and started smoking as a hobby. Ive competed in one competition 12th in pork was my best category, but i was running solo, and really needed some help. (wife couldnt make trip at last minute). However, I have cooked for a little league football banquet (about 100 people) and they seemed to love it. This could potentially become a full time gig for me, seeing how currently I am not tied to a job. I really have questions about the business plan, and how that all works out. I started a business plan on the small business website, and work on it from time to time. My vision is to acquire a trailer that I can use at competitions/and use for concession type sales. Also supplement that with catering, then possibly looking into a stick and mortar type joint further down the road. I have social media sites already with my name, and am looking into purchasing a domain name just to be safe. I have really started sticking my toes in the water, but not sure if I want to jump in.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 06:57 PM   #6
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Based on your situation yes I would do it. You can spend $1000 or $100,000 to start up. Realistically $20,000-$40,000 start up costs and you can be your own boss. Lots of hard work but very rewarding, you can work hard during barbecue season and take several months off in the winter.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 06:57 PM   #7
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This may give you an idea on what is involved with the business plan and may be a starting point for you. I am in no way saying that this is comprehensive but it may provide you the basics.

http://www.yourbusinesspal.com/barbecue-business-plan.html

Sample Bus Plan

http://www.yourbusinesspal.com/small_business_plan_sample.html
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Unread 12-11-2013, 08:30 PM   #8
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Is it worth it? It can be. It can also be a nightmare. Won't know until you try.

I bought a very small restaurant way back in May so I could open a BBQ joint. Here it is December and the doors still aren't officially open and I've sunk close to $75k into it so far and haven't had a paycheck since February.

Incredibly hard work, lots of stress, yet also a lot of joy and many rewards to go along with it. But above all else, turning your hobby into a business is not something to take lightly. If you plan accordingly and have the finances in place to make it happen, you could turn your life upside down for the better. But go into it without a solid plan or lack the capital required, and it could end up being the worst decision you've ever made.

Good luck!
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Unread 12-12-2013, 02:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Is it worth it? It can be. It can also be a nightmare. Won't know until you try.

I bought a very small restaurant way back in May so I could open a BBQ joint. Here it is December and the doors still aren't officially open and I've sunk close to $75k into it so far and haven't had a paycheck since February.

Incredibly hard work, lots of stress, yet also a lot of joy and many rewards to go along with it. But above all else, turning your hobby into a business is not something to take lightly. If you plan accordingly and have the finances in place to make it happen, you could turn your life upside down for the better. But go into it without a solid plan or lack the capital required, and it could end up being the worst decision you've ever made.

Good luck!
I agree 100% with Marubozo it can be rewarding!! but be prepared for long hrs and lots of work. I like Marubozo started a new BBQ joint mine is Delivery/Take out and I still do limited catering from it (additional licensing for that in AK) IS it worth... for me it is. I employee my oldest son, I enjoy BS'ing with customers and the light I see after they eat my Q vs what they expect make me grin ear to ear. There are day even weeks I feel like I'm bang my head against a wall and not sleeping. But I'm a fool that decided to keep my day job as well

Good luck and if there is anything I can do to help let me know
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Unread 12-12-2013, 02:30 AM   #10
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yep your nuts, however jump in the water is warm! Just as long you can handle up / down days and long hours...
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Unread 12-12-2013, 08:49 AM   #11
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Well, right now, you're only half nuts. Go all the way nuts first...
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Unread 12-12-2013, 09:06 PM   #12
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I'm staring retirement in the face (within the next 1 -2 years) and would also love to give it a shot for some extra income (read, to pay for health insurance, mostly). I just want to do some catering, and maybe a couple of weekends a month of roadside. Anyways, my "plan," if you can call it that, is to have nothing more than a mobile kitchen, which satisfies the HD here for most applications. In other words, I'm only going to jump in with "one foot;" if it works and I like it, I keep it up. If not, I sell out and try something else. There ARE ways to get in to the business without risking the farm, so to speak. My ex and I were in the catering business until she got lazy, and we actually did pretty well, so I do have some knowledge of how things work. I was also working full time at that time. If the catering would have been my full time job, I think it would have been quite enjoyable and even more successful! Being your own boss can be very rewarding in its own right, and your hard work pays off - which is not always the case in corporate America. So yes, it can be worth it! Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
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Unread 12-17-2013, 06:50 PM   #13
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Just some more questions for the masses. I was looking online at mobile smokers, and I came accross http://easttexassmokercompany.com// Has anyone dealt with them? I am from West Virginia, and really dont want to have to go to Texas if I dont have to, but would gladly pay for quality. Any caterers really have good suggestions on mobile rigs? Also I am applying for a business license, and I seem to think an LLC is the way to go. Any input on this with the experienced gurus? Again Thanks...
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Unread 12-17-2013, 09:07 PM   #14
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What can you use in WV? Do you need NSF? What capacity do you need? Do you want to babysit a smoker?
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Unread 12-17-2013, 09:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurtsara View Post
What can you use in WV? Do you need NSF? What capacity do you need? Do you want to babysit a smoker?
Im in the process of talking to the HD right now to see exactly what kind of set up is feasible for me at the moment. I am leaning towards a catering type business where i can either cook on site, or deliver. It really depends on how my discussion with the HD goes. Good thing (I hope) is the guy I got ahold with I graduated high school with. So I hope this process is way less painful than it could be.
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