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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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Old 06-26-2010, 02:39 PM   #1
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Default An unbelievable opportunity

I have always toyed with the idea of a catering/concession business as a PART-TIME gig because of the fun that I have when doing small jobs for friends, family and complete strangers referred by friends and family.
The compliments about the food are always consistent and I have had many repeat "customers."
I have a very close friend who has come into a very sizable inheritance. She approached me and asked if I would like the chance to live my little dream. Of course I was curious. Even more so when told she would NOT expect repayment anytime soon and perhaps not even at all (that is an indicator of how sizable the sum of money being received is.)

We are looking at this unit:

We are also considering a 2011 Ford F350 Super-Duty Dually to tow it with.

I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime chance and at 51 years-old I don't anticipate too many more like this!

The upside is that I can play with menus, recipes, locations, etc. without the burden of worrying about making money to pay for the above listed equipment as it will be paid for upon taking ownership.

The "competition" here for a business like this isn't heavy. There are very few BBQ catering/concessions here in Tucson. I would have different thoughts if I still lived in Texas where BBQ is on every corner!

Another upside is that I can do this on weekends and during vacation time coordinated with different events in the area like the fair, farmer's markets, etc. I will also bank some operating capital for "start-up" costs, food, additional equipment, etc. As I said, this is an unbelievable opportunity that could benefit me as I approach retirement (still several years away!)

I'm certain there is a downside but I am having trouble seeing it. That is why I am posting this here. I know several of you do this very thing for both part-time and full-time benefits. Please, share your thoughts with me.

I know that I will need licensing, food-handling certifications, inspections, business licenses and insurance. Any advice in these areas will help me as well.

One downside is the size of the rig but I will simply store it at a covered RV facility.

Thanks Brothers.

Lucky Dog BBQ
Marana, AZ

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Old 06-26-2010, 04:20 PM   #2
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Holy Carp!!! Congratulations Brother! What a rig!! God....would I jump at a chance like that. Good luck, keep us posted.
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Old 06-26-2010, 08:42 PM   #3
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Some things to consider...

Is the trailer built/designed to meet Health requirements in AZ?

Is a 60' (Trailer and truck) rig going to be flexible enough? Many places you've mentioned as prospective selling locations have space limitations.

No matter how dear a friend, or how much money they have/had, this would still be a tough offer to accept without expectation of repayment (For me).
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Old 06-26-2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by C Rocke View Post
Some things to consider...

Is the trailer built/designed to meet Health requirements in AZ?

No matter how dear a friend, or how much money they have/had, this would still be a tough offer to accept without expectation of repayment (For me).
Yes, the rig meets (exceeds) the requirements of my area.

As to the topic of repayment; this is where things for those on the outside of this friendship will have to trust me: the offer is from the heart and without any strings attached. We have a history of trust and doing for others as well as each other.

As to the space needed for the rig and truck; not an issue either. The Pima County Fair as well as the Arizona State Fair have spaces available larger than what I will need. Local Farmer's Markets also have flexibility when it comes to the larger rigs.

I would like some feedback on the equipment listed for the rig. Is there something else that might be needed that you experts think might be crucial?
Lucky Dog BBQ
Marana, AZ

[FONT=Comic Sans MS]"You must go through the Valley to stand upon the mountain of God."[/FONT]
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]In Memory of Scott "E" Cook[/FONT]
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]3/29/1965-9/3/2006[/FONT]

Last edited by TexasGuppie; 06-26-2010 at 10:57 PM..
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:44 AM   #5
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congrats AZ brother sounds great
Til next time, chew carefully, and dont let your meat loaf!

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Old 06-27-2010, 09:01 AM   #6
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If you enjoy running a large crew needed to run such a unit... great
There is a reason most do not use these aside from having to rent two spaces at events
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Last edited by ThomEmery; 06-27-2010 at 10:00 AM..
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Old 06-27-2010, 09:05 AM   #7
somebody shut me the fark up.

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does she need any more friends???? j/k Congrats. I pray it all works out according to your wishes.

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Old 06-27-2010, 09:10 AM   #8
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Dumb question.

Why not take the money and retire early?

The unit your looking at is for a profesional looking to move up, you'd need a crew to work out of a unit that large and won't fit in half the venues you speak of.
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Old 06-27-2010, 09:26 AM   #9
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Space and employees are a factor. I would suggest building a unit that meet your specs. What you'll find with that unit is that the trailer is built by one manufacturer and the equipment is installed by another. You could run into warranty issues down the road. I'm not bashing anyone, I'm just saying be careful. I would like to invite you to visit my website and see some of our past projects. I'd be glad to assist you in anyway.

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Old 06-27-2010, 10:50 AM   #10
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First before buying it talk with James about his trailers. They are top quality and you can design exactly what you need. Unless you need everything in that one and it's a "special" deal build one to spec and get exactly what you need in it including smoker setup. An FE 500 or 1000 would go great but needs to be built in. Get at least 2 or 3 quotes. I did then chose the middle one because I liked the person I was dealing with and felt comfortable that I was getting what I wanted without a bunch of additional costs.

Truck must have diesel engine - no choice there.

Now some facts of life. In Michigan the trailer goes into hibernation in early November until April. So I'd guess that you have the reverse where it's too hot for a lot of outdoor events in the summer. Drawbacks - how about showing up with a 30' trailer and the only place they can put you is farthest down the vendor row and people don't make it that far? Happened to me this weekend and I sold about 25% of what the closer vendors did even though I was the pnly one doing "real" BBQ.

Another drawback. It rains and you have all this food left to freeze or give to a charity including all the buns you have. Another 25 dozen go out tomorrow.

Then there's staff to run a large rig. I really need to helpers full time while vending. I'm prepared to work on 4 hours sleep during an event and I have FE's so I can. But it means Sunday I just want to curl up in bed and rest or put my feet up in the recliner instead of mopping the trailer today like I should be doing. And you need a regular paid employee. Unless they will work 1099 for you and you must report the income figure $10 per hour nearly for paperwork and fees such as UIC and SOC, etc. Gets less per person if you pay more workers.

I'm thinking you can do something a little smaller and with just what you need and maybe keep the cost to $50k including the big FE.

PM me if you would like to talk a little about the realities of vending.
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Old 06-27-2010, 06:33 PM   #11
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Ditto what Ford says.

I've got a 24' trailer and really wish it were smaller. I would make some adjustments in trailer and equipment based on what I've learnerd over the past 5 years. The first trailer is rarely a perfect fit for one's needs and everyone's needs are unique.

Test drive a loaner or smaller unit first.
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Old 06-27-2010, 06:59 PM   #12
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Even if you don't ever have to pay it back, it would be nice to know that someday maybe you could. And you'd have to sell an astronomical amount of BBQ to make a living and pay on a $100k+ note.

I'm not saying don't do it, but I am saying start with a real business plan. Good luck!
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:20 PM   #13
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Wow! What a very generous freind...congrats on the offer. That's a lot of rig...and a lot of responsibility to go along with it in order for it not to sit sure to do your homework with the local HD as well as a few demographic studies as to how well received it will be in your area. You mentioned there are not a whole lot of bbq places around...there may be a very good reason for that. Good luck to you!
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:28 AM   #14
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Agree with what Dr BBQ and JD said, spend a little (comparitively) doing research and setting up a realistic business plan and THEN decide what equipment fits. Failing to plan is planning to fail. I used to live in Tucson, are you going to sell carnitas? Think about the demographic. As much as I like them I'm not getting a lot of requests for deep fried pickles and boiled peanuts from my catering clients in Seattle.
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:48 AM   #15
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Go for it Ken but like others above have stated I would start with something smaller.
"You can't always get what you want but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need"

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