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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 08-28-2009, 04:04 PM   #1
Bamabuzzard
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Default Question regarding absence of ribs in catering/concessions.

I've noticed that when I see a bbq catering business or a bbq concession stand I rarely see ribs as a common item. With regards to catering I rarely see it even on the menu to be offered. I've never seen it at any concession stand just bbq sandwiches with sides. Is it because of the cost relative to what you have to charge to make a profit?
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Unread 08-28-2009, 05:38 PM   #2
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This is probably better in the catering section, but here's my take on it. Cost and space are the two main reasons. Ribs are expensive compared to other meats, and they take up a whole lot of space in the smoker. I have seen a vendor at the local county fair who was selling ribs, he was "slow cooking" them on a large charcoal grill. He was always out when I walked by with at least a 45 minute wait for the next batch to come off the grill. I didn't get a chance to look around enough to see if he was boiling and then cooking, but I would have to venture that he was otherwise he would never be able to cook enough to cover his costs.
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Unread 08-29-2009, 05:22 AM   #3
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i was doing ribs @ my place when i started but people just weren't buying them.they didn't buy chix either-nothing they had to get their fingers on except sammies.
also i didn't want to sell the ribs the next day because after sitting in chafing dishes for a couple hours they get a bit mushy & lose the smoke ring, i.e. they turned grey like oven cooked pork.
after a few samplers & some good pics in the windows we're back to doing ribs & people are buying them.
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Unread 08-29-2009, 10:28 AM   #4
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I offer them on my menu, but they are rarely requested.
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Unread 08-29-2009, 11:23 AM   #5
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Interesting.....Ribs are my best seller.

Maybe you farkers need one of my rib pots.

Seriously, 8 racks a day average and 10 on Sundays farmers mkt.
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Unread 08-29-2009, 05:01 PM   #6
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If you're going to sell lots of ribs you need lots of space, the average rack of spares will feed two as a main course, (or 6 as appetizers), and will occupy as much space in the pit as two butts that could feed 20 as main courses or 40 appetizers.

That's the reason so many of the chain restaurants precook all their meats, chill or freeze, deliver to the restaurant, then defrost and finish on the grill. That makes it viable to the chains to be able to offer them, the local real BBQ restaurant near me, cooks 40 - 60 racks every two days, and he has good ribs that are worth eating and they hold up well.

The other ones that I know of that do serve good ribs, do so only on certain days, and if you aren't there early and on time, you better plan on something else for dinner than ribs, as they only do X number of racks and when they are sold that's it till the next day.
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Unread 08-29-2009, 05:31 PM   #7
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At the restaurant ribs sold well. At vending jobs ribs are not a good seller, and ribs are seldom sold although they are on our catering menu. Catering best sellers are tri tip and chicken combo, or pulled pork. I think that the difference in what sells at what type of event is because ribs are considered "messy" to eat. Wedding caterings never order "messy" food---they want sliced beef or boneless chicken. People at vending events are eating off of paper plates, with a handfull of napkins, and sometimes poor rest rooms. They simply do not want to get "messy"
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Unread 08-29-2009, 06:20 PM   #8
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Cost and selling price. Can dry out if you're not careful upon cooking. Don't hold so well.

When I vend at the Farmers' Market, I offer them chilled with reheating instructions for the best quality experience.
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Unread 08-29-2009, 07:06 PM   #9
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Back when I did a lot of public cooking for charities and church and such, it was as stated above, folks like 'clean' food at events. If they are at a restaurant, it is easier to deal with the 'mess' after eating ribs. Small chunks of food, without sauce, and requiring no napkin is what folks want.

At least out here from what I have seen, ribs have to be served with a lot of sauce, that is what folks want.
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Unread 08-30-2009, 12:22 AM   #10
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Things going against ribs: high perceived cost by public, messy, difficult to serve, holds poorly. takes up a lot of surface area in the smoker, high cost of goods. All this makes for a lower margin, lower volume product. Pulled Pork sandwiches are simply the most profitable BBQ item you can sell, hands down.
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Unread 08-30-2009, 01:36 AM   #11
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Such a shame. Back in the early 70's we had Love's Wood Pit BBQ restaurants out west. I would order two racks of BB's, with bread and BBQ beans, and two glasses of on-tap Coors. A fiest. Messy? Pass the napkins! With no Q'ing knowledge, we tried but failed to replicate them at home. Usual boil/grill (Ugh!) not the same. Not until the last 5 years did I educate myself to do them at home on a small pit. Now we do them at will. Last year a local long-time San Diego meat market/ butcher shop advertised a summer sweet onion/bbq rib festival where they pimped Traeger smokers. With much anticipation, a friend and I traveled the 20 miles to be encouraged. What a disappointment. They didn't smoke the ribs, they boiled them in large aluminum pans, then slathered them in bottled sauce to give them flavor! Sure they had Traeger's for SALE, but did not use them! What a shame. We stayed for 15 minutes, drove home where I fired up a small CharBroil Smokey Joepit and smoked BB's properly. Can't go to dinner for proper Q here.
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Unread 08-30-2009, 10:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG ALAN View Post
Such a shame. Back in the early 70's we had Love's Wood Pit BBQ restaurants out west. I would order two racks of BB's, with bread and BBQ beans, and two glasses of on-tap Coors. A fiest. Messy? Pass the napkins! With no Q'ing knowledge, we tried but failed to replicate them at home. Usual boil/grill (Ugh!) not the same. Not until the last 5 years did I educate myself to do them at home on a small pit. Now we do them at will. Last year a local long-time San Diego meat market/ butcher shop advertised a summer sweet onion/bbq rib festival where they pimped Traeger smokers. With much anticipation, a friend and I traveled the 20 miles to be encouraged. What a disappointment. They didn't smoke the ribs, they boiled them in large aluminum pans, then slathered them in bottled sauce to give them flavor! Sure they had Traeger's for SALE, but did not use them! What a shame. We stayed for 15 minutes, drove home where I fired up a small CharBroil Smokey Joepit and smoked BB's properly. Can't go to dinner for proper Q here.
Our Love's here in GG closed about 8 years ago - A real loss. We still have a Chris n Pitts, which is not bad. Hard to get clearance to install a smoker in a restaurant, especially in LA County. The Johnny Reb's here cook their ribs at a central store, and then deliver to each location to finish on the grill. But at the end of the day, BBQ is best at a "hole in the wall" joint.
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Unread 08-30-2009, 01:40 PM   #13
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Hey, don't get me wrong guys - great ribs are still available from a lot of Que joints in Georgia, not the least of which is our own restaurant, Johnny Mitchell's Smokehouse. I was speaking of VENDING ribs, which is a different critter all together from restaurant or catering operations.
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Unread 08-31-2009, 07:48 AM   #14
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I can agree with lots of what you folks have said, my issues would be all of the above too. Overall, I would say that vending is not about $10 plates, it is about $5 plates and I think that limits your selections. Plus Ribs are so damn time consuming, the way I prepare them anyway. So space, holding times, cost and if you have good brisket and pp why bother, it is vending afterall.
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Unread 08-31-2009, 04:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony76248 View Post
I can agree with lots of what you folks have said, my issues would be all of the above too. Overall, I would say that vending is not about $10 plates, it is about $5 plates and I think that limits your selections. Plus Ribs are so damn time consuming, the way I prepare them anyway. So space, holding times, cost and if you have good brisket and pp why bother, it is vending afterall.
You mean $5 plates still exist? Just about any event I go to where vending is involved if there is anything more than one selection in the plate you're looking at $7-$8 dollars plate.
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