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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 12-02-2009, 11:17 PM   #1
Back12draft
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I travel to Texas a lot and I'm convinced that we Canadians have no clue as to what "Real BBQ" is. Over the last couple years I've been observing the BBQ scene and I'm convinced that it's time to step up and introduce good ole down home BBQ to the masses here.

Yes there are a few weekend events called "Rib Fest" that are put on by a transplanted American guy but just 1 weekend during the summer; nothing full time anywhere near where I live, Toronto Canada.

I've been scoping out equipment and trailer/concession options, man these are scarce here in Canada, not too many options at all, regardless I've decided it's going to be easier to built a trailer rather than purchase one for start up. I had a friend start up a chip truck, boring, and he's doing quite well, averaging 100-150 customers per day (11am-4pm). I thought, what the hell, I'll do the same only with real food.

I've decided on the Backwoods Smoker (
Professional) and a Bradley 4 rack Electric for doing butts seeing as I'm not able to tend a cooker throughout the night.

I wanna start with Baby Back Ribs, 1/2 Chickens, Pulled Pork Sandwiches and a Combo Ribs/Chicken. Of course with the usual sides of Coleslaw and Beans.

Our health regulations are pretty much the same as in the states so with the triple sink and an electric warming/holding cabinet I hope to satisfy their requirements. The prep kitchen is also inspected for handling, holding, you know, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway I'm shooting for a spring start up, I'm just not sure whether the size of smoker is sufficient and what the quantity of meat for start up should be, obviously waste is of cost concern. I'm conservatively looking at about 50-75 customers per day for the first week or two until word gets out there.

I wanna thank you guys for all your knowledge; I've been reading like a mad fool here trying to soak up all that I can about barbecuing.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 05:30 AM   #2
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50 to 75 per day the first week? Conservatively? I hope you're right. Sounds high for Canada.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 06:35 AM   #3
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LOl You may want to get in line for introducing to Canada. The more the merrier though.

Here are some locations in Ontario alone that serve up their Q

www.busterrhinos.com (I would eat their food any day as good as any in the South) Darryl Koster is more than happy to talk to anyone about BBQ. located in Whitby Ontario

www.madmichaels.com (they are a seasonal operator and serve some great Q in Wyebridge Ontario)

www.bbqgourmet.com (An outstanding Catering company I had the pleasure of meeting last year in Texas)

http://www.thebigsmokebbq.com/ (Brand spanking new Dan Cordeiro is a great guy who loves to serve up real BBQ)

http://www.hogtailsbbq.com/ (They make really great pork here but serve up everything else too! Waterloo Ontario)

There is also another couple of places opening in the next few months one in Hamilton and another in the Niagara area.

A lot of locations in Canada use Southern Prides.

Send me a PM and ill forward you the numbers of some ppl here in Ontario you can talk with about BBQ restaurants. They can give you a reality check on what you can expect in Canada for numbers. I don't own a restaurant so I can't help you there.

I wish you all the very best and continued success.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 09:42 AM   #4
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some realities on roadside vending. You'll be lucky if a person eats lunch with you 1 day a week. So saying 50-75 to start means about 300 customers. That means you need a good high traffic location and you need lots of big signs to let them know what you are doing. You need to think about hours from 11 to 8 as being more realistic. then people can stop in on the way home from work and pick up a $20+ family meal instead of a $5 sammy.

I used to live in Toronto (Don Mills to be exact) and I know you are not selling from a trailer after early November. And you won't start till mid April. The water system in the trailer d oesn't work so good a 0F. FYI I'm in Michigan now and face the same problems. If the inspector comes around and you don't have hot water then it's shut down for a violation and then you're in their bad books and it's H#LL.

Now smokers - 1/2 chickens and ribs take up a lot of room unlkess you have rib racks. Even then it's amazing how much space it takes. You probably want a bigger unit and then cook 3 or 4 cases of butts at a time and chill them down in 1/2 pans and just reheat for vending. That means commercial grade fridge and freezer here anyway. I'd cook the ribs each day but if you want them ready for 11 then you need to be cooking them about 6. So now your day is 6 am to 8 pm assuming you cleanup while selling between 6-8 pm.

If you want to talk, email me at alisonf at chartermi dot net and I'll send you my phone number. Maybe Bubba will chime in on this thread to. He's spent the year doing roadside vending.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 10:10 PM   #5
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I've done some research and there's absolutely no roadside vending around my area other than 2 chip trucks and a couple sausage carts outside the local Canadian tire stores. Hence "introducing BBQ to people here" in my specific area.

I was getting the number of 50-75 people per day based on my buddy that opened a chip truck in the spring. He's doing so well that they extended their hours til 6pm.

Should I expect a big difference in numbers based on Chip trucks being more of a snack compared to BBQ which is considered more of a meal?
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Unread 12-07-2009, 04:49 PM   #6
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When you say chip truck, do you mean french fries? English chips as it were?
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Unread 12-12-2009, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Back12draft View Post
I've done some research and there's absolutely no roadside vending around my area other than 2 chip trucks and a couple sausage carts outside the local Canadian tire stores. Hence "introducing BBQ to people here" in my specific area.

I was getting the number of 50-75 people per day based on my buddy that opened a chip truck in the spring. He's doing so well that they extended their hours til 6pm.

Should I expect a big difference in numbers based on Chip trucks being more of a snack compared to BBQ which is considered more of a meal?
I am looking at doing something similar up in the Ottawa area and would like to share some advice.

Make sure that you make the chip wagon part of the business as the main focus and make BBQ secondary. If you will get 100 customers per day you will be very fortunate to have 25 of those order something more then just fries or poutine. People head out to go to the chip wagon and that is the purpose of their visit. However if you have great BBQ to go along with with your good fries you may increase the meal percentage of orders and increase your sales as people will choose your chip wagon over others in the area. Make sure however you have great fries or it does not really matter what you are offering.

I am opening a chip wagon and will offering BBQ as well but for the first year I am going to focus on fries and bring in BBQ to see how it goes over and the see how it goes from there.

Also you have to look at the time you spend at producing your BBQ as it can start to add up. You are already going to be putting in 12 hours a day 7 days a week for 6-7 months just to be in business and then you need to have to cook something other then fries.

Good luck and go for it.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 08:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Dave View Post
50 to 75 per day the first week? Conservatively? I hope you're right. Sounds high for Canada.
Ya, you may be shooting a lil high.

I have a great traffic area, lots of signs and very little competition and only see maybe 35-40 tops all day. (11 to 6)
Ford gave some great advise as far as smokers. A Bradley?
The Backwoods will do you well. Let me know when your ready to purchase yours, will get you your best deal!

Pork gets cooked in masses and saved for the week. Ribs gotta be fresh so as Ford says, your cooking at 6 am. Half chickens will never sell, try 1/4's and even those don't go well. Brisket, sausage, bologna are all good sellers. Plan on 12-14 hr days and little return at first as it will take time to establish yourself and your food.

Good luck and keep asking questions!
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Unread 02-08-2010, 01:31 PM   #9
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Love that "Wild Baloney" BbqBubba.
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Unread 02-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #10
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I have a Lonestar walk on and a chip truck, on Vancouver island on the west coast, It has hot and cold water sinks etc but the health board in there wisdom tied it to my truck, which in itself is not bad as the truck has fridges friers grills and most important a steam table, the investment is huge approx 130, 000.00. the returns and sales are slow in coming when vending on the street, as one has to depend on drive by customers the chip truck alone selling your product is better as it can move from site to site all year selling your product or, what I have in mind is special events, that reduces the mileage onthe truck less breakdowns, and most important less fuel, as a stand alone here the smoker, wouldn't be allowed by health unless it had all the amenities of the chip truck
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