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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 05-07-2009, 07:40 AM   #16
tony76248
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Just get a good business plan. When I was a younger thug, I wanted to open a sub shop in the northeast part of the country. After putting the pencil to the paper I realized I needed to open three of them to make a decent living. Then I was hit with that other realization.... there are some damn good sub shops out there and I would have been competing with them. My 15 year old daughter just got her first job (other than working for me), she is a waitress in an Italian restaurant. The folks she works for actually own two restaurants just to achieve and maintain their desired standard of living. The husband runs one and the wife the other. They are there every night and definitely weekends.

The best advice I can give is to start small and grow it into a worthwhile venture. You are between a rock and a hard place in that you probably need to go from 0 to 60MPH overnight. Slow and steady can be good.

How soon do you need to be turning a profit? Have you done any catering or vending in the past?

Loving to cook and being successful in the restaurant business have nothing in common!

Here is something else you need to consider.....

Health insurance for yourself and your family. Does your wife have a job that covers you and your family? If not, you are playing with a loaded gun, sometimes self employment comes with obstacles.
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Unread 05-07-2009, 09:49 AM   #17
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This is the best dang forum in the world. Thank you for your remarks. I will learn all I can and take all the advice into consideration. I have a small business workshop seminar scheduled for the 26th. I also have a Tavern owner who said I can use the facilities for preparation and maybe during the Winter. I will look into health insurance. I am nervous. It's like getting my first job right after college. But then I didn't have a wife and kids. Good thing is kids are in college and getting pretty much a free ride. A little cost but not bad. Who know, my job may decide to let me continue to work from home( I doubt it. after the email I sent , I probably embarrased some people). OK. Go slow, let the tavern do the selling and I just do the cooking. You are right. I chose programming because I didn't like dealing with other people's crap. But it turned into dealing with other peoples crap. So, I need to find a way I can cook . let somebody else deal with the customers but I get most of the money. Yeah, right. How can I do that?

Scared and excited at the same time. This is a good drug!!!!
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Unread 05-07-2009, 10:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony76248 View Post
Just get a good business plan. When I was a younger thug, I wanted to open a sub shop in the northeast part of the country. After putting the pencil to the paper I realized I needed to open three of them to make a decent living. Then I was hit with that other realization.... there are some damn good sub shops out there and I would have been competing with them. My 15 year old daughter just got her first job (other than working for me), she is a waitress in an Italian restaurant. The folks she works for actually own two restaurants just to achieve and maintain their desired standard of living. The husband runs one and the wife the other. They are there every night and definitely weekends.

The best advice I can give is to start small and grow it into a worthwhile venture. You are between a rock and a hard place in that you probably need to go from 0 to 60MPH overnight. Slow and steady can be good.

How soon do you need to be turning a profit? Have you done any catering or vending in the past?

Loving to cook and being successful in the restaurant business have nothing in common!

Here is something else you need to consider.....

Health insurance for yourself and your family. Does your wife have a job that covers you and your family? If not, you are playing with a loaded gun, sometimes self employment comes with obstacles.

A business plan is essential and the proper funding to get you going. Most businesses fail due to lack of funding. There are good posts in this section for everything you are looking for. Good luck bud and we are all here to help.
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Unread 05-07-2009, 11:23 AM   #19
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good luck to you farklf, whichever way you go. I would check into some catering companies locally. Sometimes they get request for bbq that they can't fulfill. Take them in a sample for lunch. I could probably do a lot more of this, then I'd care to. Get your feelers out and see what's out there. Heads up to any situation that arises.

My wife has said that I should open up a vending stand on the weekends, seems like a lot of work, as that I already work 10-12 hr days as it is. But it's always an option. I have a oppurtunity to cook for a local restaurant that wants to do an authentic bbq on a sat night. Working out the details, we'll see.
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Unread 05-07-2009, 11:51 AM   #20
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I agree whole-heartedly with those who suggested you do research, talk to the HD for all information they can give you on their requirements, consult the city for any permits you might need from them, write up a good business plan, attend those small business seminars, find a good accountant, talk to other caterers and vendors. Definitely try to learn as much as possible before you jump in. You will work your bum off, but remember not to burn yourself out either.
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Unread 05-07-2009, 06:34 PM   #21
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My husband was laid off in January and we decided to go into the BBQ Vendor/Catering business. We just did our first catering gig last weekend, and this weekend we're opening up in our state park (Cedar Hill State Park in DFW area). They want us every weekend if we're available. No other food in park except the marina store that sells chips and microwave meals. The park has 355 campsites, 200 picnic table, and a marina. I can't wait! We're getting excited. I'm hoping it'll provid a living for us. It's tough at there looking for work.
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Unread 05-07-2009, 09:47 PM   #22
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Good advise here from Guys who are out there doing it
We cater part time and only for people we like
Because it is work if we don't like the people we are serving
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Unread 05-08-2009, 01:39 AM   #23
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I agree with all of the above. I lost my job in December and with nothing out there I have picked up on starting a business in vending BBQ. Granted we did get a taste of what it would be like by hooking up with the local pub/bar an did a bit of Q on sunny weekends. We are now to the point where I have built a cooker, passed the food handling, safety and awareness class and booked a few gigs.

If you want it then it's out there you just need to dig deep and listen to the advice these brothers and sisters are passing along.

I wish you the best and remember to pass along what you learn from your experiences.

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Unread 05-08-2009, 07:47 AM   #24
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As a former owner of their own business, I would like to add that you should not expect to make money right away. Start up costs are always more than you expect so have a reserve. But also remember, too little money can also be a good thing. If you have to work hard to stay afloat, you will work hard and you will make the money.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 08:28 AM   #25
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Las year we jumped into the vending/concessions world to supplement our catering biz. I found there to be a wicked learning curve when trying to find what to serve and where. Last summer we took our hits with having way to much for some vends and way to little for others. Setting up and marketing our butts off only to find little interest. Best advice is to do your homework. We are now a little more than a year into our adventure and things are looking up.
Last year we focused on small events, auctions and farmers markets. This year I’m finding that people are calling us to vend their events large and small.
Don’t expect to make a ton of cash at first and don’t bite off more than you can chew and let it grow on its own.
If you like being in front of people and you have a passion for what you are doing the sky is the limit.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 08:38 AM   #26
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Quote:
Last summer we took our hits with having way to much for some vends and way to little for others.
This has to be one of the toughest parts! I'm struggling to estimate numbers for our big event.
You guys have the added pleasure to have a streak of good weather where as here a sunny day it often tough to come by. This is why i have gone the route of larger events. It could pay off but then again...
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Unread 05-12-2009, 10:20 PM   #27
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Good luck it's always worth a shot
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Unread 05-13-2009, 03:36 PM   #28
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I'm not a BBQ expert, but numbers and entrepreneurship are a passion of mine. I write a lot of business plans for large and small efforts, my focus being the financials.

I would never bet against you.

As others have said, write a plan. Write a few plans with different scenarios. An income statement will reveal many things over time, especially run many different scenarios (best to worst). Quickbooks is easy enough for you to learn how to manipulate the data. It takes time and no one else can do this for you. Going back to the data every day with new ideas will help formulate a more realistic (accurate) plan.

Strategies for tax planning are essential. You may overcook for example, but can donate to charities. There may be better ideas also to capture a 1 to 1 in losses (in-kind donations to non-for-profit corporation).

Do market studies to estimate sales variables. Most studies seem like common sense, but sometimes you will discover a jewel that was not previously realized. Gather population, demographics, competition, and all the other socio data. The data will give you confidence.

I like cash plans. Buy your assets with cash, earn dollars, and then buy more assets for bigger equipment. While this is not always possible, borrowing or credit is a slipperly slope that may sneak up on you later. Borrowing is a heck of a lot more stressful also.

Best of luck and keep us up to date. If I can be of help, just let me know. I think its an interesting project.

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Unread 05-13-2009, 09:24 PM   #29
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Man what an awesome thread. Prepare to work hard. Chase dream.
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Unread 05-13-2009, 11:38 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony76248 View Post
...she is a waitress in an Italian restaurant. The folks she works for actually own two restaurants just to achieve and maintain their desired standard of living. The husband runs one and the wife the other. They are there every night and definitely weekends.
This is probably the most important truth you have to come to grips with.

As a programmer, you get paid regularly regardless. You can have days where you are sick, unproductive, cranky or whatever and that check still arrives. The food business is NOT A JOB, it is a LIFESTYLE. You will be married to it. You will spend more time at your restaurant/vending booth then you spend at home. If you take a day off, everything grinds to a halt and you will lose money. (Yes, even if you have employees, unless you can afford to pay somebody the $30K a year it takes to get somebody who cares about your business)

I know what I am talking about - I work as a programmer and am a partner in a BBQ Restaurant. My partner and/or his wife are there six days a week, 52 weeks a year. There is no way I would choose to quit my IT job and work in the food business full time - it requires a tremendous commitment for a marginal return in addition to great financial risk to capitalize a business with the highest probability of failure of any start up.

All that said, go for it if preparing food is such an overwhelming passion that you think about it all the time and you reap great satisfaction from doing the hands on work. However, if you are looking at this move as an easy alternative for providing for your family you would be making a huge mistake; better to figure out how to become more competitive in your field and keep BBQ as a fun hobby.

I'm not trying to discourage you, just to help make you aware of the reality of the biz.

EDIT - Oh and one other thing: If you don't like dealing with the public, don't even think about it! Folks have many choices when they to go out eat, and the one thing a small operator can offer that the franchises can't is personalized service. Your customers will return to dine because of YOU. If schmoozing with customers doesn't sound like something you want to do you're in big trouble before you start. Only you can be the owner - you can't hire a stand-in.
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