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BBQ as a business...

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Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:03 pm
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
Gang,

I am an ex Chef that went Telecom. in search of the elusive “better quality of life”. Well, I felt as if I have “been there, and done that” and now am looking to get back to what my heart is telling me to do. Food is always on my mind. Not so in that I am hungry or inspiring for my next meal. But more so hungry to fulfill my passion to live and breath food once again, on my terms-- more specifically, barbecue.

I can fill endless and endless of pages on the “who’s, what’s, where’s and how’s” of what I personally envision barbecue as business being, and what it means to me. Sparing you folks from that torture is one way of getting off on the good foot. =)

To be brief, unless prompted to elaborate more, I want to get into two facets of barbecue. I would like to cater as well as get into food vending of barbecue at local county & state fairs, carnivals and events. Falling back on my past experiences as a Chef I know that these two facets of the business, although similar in many ways, are two different animals in themselves.

On one hand, catering you have a pre-negotiated agreement set up and general rules to follow such as adding 5-7 % on top of your calculations to cover extra or big eaters. That is just to name a few. You do not have to worry about the health department unless you get someone sick etc. You have to deal with more hassles because you may be dealing with picky, flustered or frantic clientele. Gauging your potential guest as to what they will eat more of and strategically placing food in areas, as not to run out is very important. Example: place ribs toward the end of the food line (if serving a buffet) as to not have people piling up on them straight out the gate.

Food vending, well, it is a trail and error type situation in my opinion. Possibly a lot of good research from other successful food vendors sure would not hurt. I am doing that all this summer by pestering any vendor giving me the time of day to entertain my many questions. Also, I know the Health department has to inspect your “safe kitchen” each event you want to vend at. Another hurdle of food vending…

Eventually, I may want to expand on this venture and start up a privately owned butcher/smokehouse/steakhouse (what a mouthful) if I am very successful at this idea of mine.

So, each aspect has it’s relate pros and cons. I feel I am ready to do this. My wife, family and friends are behind me 110%. To bad the checkbook has not caught onto the idea yet. Leaving my full time job is not an option at this point. If at any time the money seems right and I cannot keep up with my full time job then I will throw in the towel and not look back. I have the drive, I have great ideas for promoting my wares via truck painting schemes, business cards, slogan, website development. The vigor, stamina, and passion are all here! I am ready to take the plunge…

Why the heck is he telling us, you say?

Well, I need a solid community to bounce ideas off of, get inspirations and guidance. Even if it is a “hey I know a guy that sells BBQ outside of a package good store and he does (insert any random method here)” kind of thing. It is all digestible information that may be good for something sooner or later. Or, “Hey Big Belly, go check out government loan so and so, it will grant you 10,000 instantly.”

How many of you guys actually do BBQ as a business? Is it part time, full time, or anytime?

Let’s chew the fat!
~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:18 pm
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
I wish you well Big Belly, I'll be a sounding board for anything you wish.
As for other Pro's look to Smokey Bones and Dkirn for advise those guys have looked into this type of thing to greater and lesser degrees.
Once you get it going maybe I'll even see your Q stand up my way sometime.
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Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:25 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Big Belly you're doin' the dream! There's a little bit of BBQ in all of us and we wish you the best. I don't have the business experience but am willing to help in any way I can.

Best of luck!
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Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:36 pm
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
Thanks guys! Funny thing you should mention Smokey Bones. They are due to open up a restaurant here in Bowie MD very soon. Me and some other folks are planning on hitting them up ASAP!

Hey hey, you are in PA heh? I was really debating on if I wanted to buy a pitt from the fellas up there at http://www.pennsylvaniapitsmokers.com/ or just take the full fledged plunge and buy a Klose, Bates or a Lang pit and make the trip to Texas to pick it up. I called Klose thinking I would get some service person, left a message requesting some product information. David Klose called me back asking me to call his cell phone. I see that deal he landed with the Discovery Channel has not gotten to his head. I have the local BBQ Bash here in Bel Air MD in August. I was going to hold out and see if any local boys show up selling their services.

I want to get a 8 foot unit for sure! Then move up to one of those dandy concession trailers...or build one.
~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:56 pm
JDasmokin rare
rare

Posts: 24
Location: Sothern Indiana
Hey Big Belly good luck on your venture any way you decide to go.
They are making smokers at Southern Yankee also,You might want to check out there web site. http://www.sybbq.com/backyard-barbeque-smoker.html

I agree with BOB-BQN that this is probably all of our dream to at some point just BBQ

Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 2:08 pm
Don Marco well done
well done

Posts: 826
Location: Germany

Hey there Belly...


I am slowly starting to sell my que right now. Mostly to co-workers and other people i know, but those people spread the word and i´m getting more and more requests these days, so my two WSM´s and the grills are pushed to their limits.

I would like to do that for a living, but i am also aware of the risks.
Over here, BBQ is not that big (yet, but that might be a chance also... :lol: ) , but even in the US you´ll have to consider a lot of things.

Here´s some good read: Cpt. Pete has opened a BBQ Trailer last year and he wrote a log on the net where he describes all the ups and downs of it.I suggest you start reading from august 2003 til the end of may 2004.
Sad enough, there were quite a few downs. Hope this helps !

http://www.captpetesbbq.com/BBQ/Olde%20Tyme%20BBQ.htm

Don Marco

Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 2:13 pm
RichD medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 280
Location: New Jersey
Hey Big good luck with your business. I'm sorry I can't help with that side of it, but I would be interested in knowing what you find out as it has become an interest of mine to look into catering Q.
I do have some plans for a nice mobile unit if your interested. I would be happy to forward the file to you.

RichD

Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:55 pm
Guest

Good luck with the business, as far as a smoker, you check out e-bay, sometimes they have trailer smokers on there.

Post Wed Jun 09, 2004 5:29 pm
DarkRubiTJ medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 221
Location: Livingston, TX.
It's funny that you mention this now. I had a conversation with the ex. chef of one of the largest hotels in our area a few weeks ago. He has the same dream except he wants to do the location and just open up shop. We were talking about different BBQ styles and how "Texas" style is so different that the stuff that passes for Q in this area. The major thing I came away from the conversation with was developing a style and receipes that are simple and easy to duplicate everytime.

Toward that end, I started deveoping my own receipes using different spice blends to develop an individual style and taste that I can repeat everytime. Consistencency if you want to look at it that way. That way I will always be able to put great food on the plate, and have customers that want to come back for more, lots more. When and if I live the dream, I want my place to be the place folks want to come to.

The dream is a cross between a good ole "Texas Ice House" and "Sonny Bryans". A mom and pop place with a couple of walk up windows and a very simple menu. Brisket, ribs, sausage, tator salad, beans, fries and not much more. Open air, walk up and eat Q, a down home Texas Q joint. Close down when the meat is gone for the day, and go home and play with Mama.

Deal with Klose, he's good people. I used to live a couple of miles from his place and would drop by every once and a while just to drool. Pick up "Championship Barbeque" by Paul Kirk. It's got a lot of been there done that type information in it. Sorry Steven. Another "bible" for me is "Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades" by Steven. Both books really aim you at developing your own style and give you the tools to accomplish that.
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Weber "Q", Weber Performer, Weber 22.5" Bar-B-Kettle

Post Thu Jun 10, 2004 8:30 am
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
developing a style and receipes that are simple and easy to duplicate everytime


Yes!!! That is what I was telling my wife when she found me looming over a pot, grasping a pencil and paper. I was developing a few easy (varied in style) simple barbecue sauces. She had said to me "why dont you add a little of this and a little of that." I explained to her the very same thing you just mentioned. I was not trying to reinvent BBQ sauce. I was merely developing a few sauces that tasted good, and most importantly were easy to make and duplicate time and time again. This goes the same for some rubs I have been playing with.

Right now the most important tool I have in this process is the eraser!

Consistency amongst many other principles was a concept pounded into my brain by many of Chefs when I was coming up. Combined with determination, consistency surely will be one of many keys to my success.

The dream is a cross between a good ole "Texas Ice House" and "Sonny Bryans". A mom and pop place with a couple of walk up windows and a very simple menu. Brisket, ribs, sausage, tator salad, beans, fries and not much more. Open air, walk up and eat Q, a down home Texas Q joint. Close down when the meat is gone for the day, and go home and play with Mama.


Oh my god! We could sit down and chew the fat for days! This is similar to what I want to achieve. A business with good ethics, family oriented with a strong sense of community awareness. I have seen my days of "silver tray" service and have no plans of trying to elevate barbecue beyond what it is today. There will be no barbecued capon with huckleberry sauce served over top stone ground grits infused with chanterelle mushrooms and sundried cherries in my place. Grab your tray lined with butchers paper, handle your sauce if ya like, and hunker on down with some good grub.

RichD - I would like to take a gander at those plans you have. You have my email already. :wink:

Don Marco - Those Capt'n Pete narratives have some insightful advise that everyone can learn from--good and bad. When I was reading through some I almost felt bad for him in a way.

JDasmokin - I really would love to have one of those log cabin consession trailers listed on that website. However, I will need to make a good chunk of change before I could spend 35k on one of those. Additionally, their prices are very reasonable.
~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Thu Jun 10, 2004 1:19 pm
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

Hey Big Belly, wish you all the best in your endeavors.

I've had an idea for a Q place for a long time. Not that I'm ever planning on starting one or anything but just something a little different that's been going around in my brain for a while.

I've always been fascinated by the Barbece Bible cookbook because of the very different flavors and techniques that it provides for Q from around the world. I've often thought that this might be good idea for a restaurant. Worldwide barbecue as it were. Maybe take some of the best recipes from all over. Ribs from the states, Tandoori chicken from India, etc.

Just thinking that something a little out of the ordinary as far as barbecue might just fly.

Scott
I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Thu Jun 10, 2004 2:23 pm
Don Marco well done
well done

Posts: 826
Location: Germany

spfranz wrote:
.... Worldwide barbecue as it were....



Wow, thats a very good idea.A restaurant like that would be something really out of the ordinary.

Don Marco

Post Thu Jun 10, 2004 5:20 pm
Guest

I was in Palm Springs recently and ate at a Brazillian restaurant / Churrascurria (sp?), basically Charbroiler I think. It was very unique. They had 15 different types of meat all spit roasted. They did tri tip, prime rib, bacon wrapped chicken, parmesean pork, sausages etc. The best cut was the "Brazil steak" which was explaianed as the tip of the sirloin. It was fork tender. They have Gaucho characters running around slicing you meat off the large skewers. It was $32.50 all you can eat. Not a bad price considering top Steakhouse rates these days. It was nice to be able to sample all the different cuts at one sitting.

Post Fri Jun 11, 2004 9:07 am
snooks

hey big belly
congrats on taking off on your endeavor.I am a full time fireman in the Boston area and I also have a bbq catering business.If there is any way I can help just email me @ snooks2252002@yahoo.com.I would love to hear how it progresses for you over the course of time.Additionally---I currently have a lang smoker na dI would not recommend you get one.Best of luck!!

Post Fri Jun 11, 2004 9:54 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Hey snooks, have you considered registering on the board? I've seen you around lately and would like to see you stay! :wink:
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