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BBQ as a business...

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Post Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:47 am
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
Noted; strike Lang's smokers off the list of possible purchases.

I currently have a lang smoker na dI would not recommend you get one


I think I read that comment right?
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Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Fri Jun 11, 2004 11:28 am
RichD medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 280
Location: New Jersey
I've also heard that Southern Yankee smokers doesn't have one of the best reps out there either. I've read some complaints on other forums from people who own them.
I think your best bet is Klose or maybe Traeger.

RichD

Post Sat Jun 12, 2004 12:25 am
snooks

I have said i would not get another lang---but i was looking at southern yankee.Rich can you tell me what you have heard??

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 9:51 am
TonyGreek medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 75
Location: Celina, Ohio
Belly, as a long-time lurker and a benefactor of waaaay too much information that I can't use quickly enough, I have a an idea to possibly get you rolling. I'm somewhat of a serial entrepreneur who has had more restaurant ideas than I can count, with the only problem being is that they litterally consume one's life. My best friend's family owns 4 and I've had the pleasure and mispleasure of seing the results of the grind. As a hobbiest chef, we often talk shop and have explored ways of getting into the biz without actually running a restaurant.

A month or so ago I was helping them remodel and open their newest, which btw gave me great insight into the start-up process. While working and BS'ing, a couple of the siblings asked if I would be interested in doing ribs for their places (we split catering duties for a massive, joint Super Bowl party we throw and they are fans of my ribs). I never thought about it, but since many non-Q restaurants carry them, they are time and resource intensive for the avg place and can be tough to generate a quality product. As I am well connected to many restauranteurs in my area, the potential to expand may not be too difficult. For me, it would come down to the dreaded financial gain as to whether this could prove feasible. Anyway, this may be something you could think about to get yourself going. The possibility of expanding into other prepped foods is definitely there, so the sky could be the limit, but I haven't sat down with my CFO/wife yet to see whether it's viable.

Oh, and in related news, we have a local Q impresario who sets up shop every day in a gas station parking lot. Good food in a cruddy part of town, but people drive for lunch from all over. There have been 2 articles about him in the Dayton Daily News and I'm quite surprised that nobody has given this guy some kind of shot to prep foods for their places. Maybe I need to go back and talk to him.

Tony
Dayton, Ohio

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 9:59 am
MReynolds well done
well done

Posts: 394
Location: Missouri, St. Peters
Tony, that's great insight. I've been thinking of a business venture as well and have given serious thought to formulating my business plan. However, I feel that I still need to give some further evaluation prior to taking a major leap of faith, the financials being one aspect. A significant drawback for startup happens to be the price per square foot, as rent is expensive around me.

Perhaps this street vendor is perfectly content in setting his own shedule and working for himself?
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PETA - People Eat Tasty Animals

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:25 am
TonyGreek medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 75
Location: Celina, Ohio
the street vendor has referenced in each article that he aspires to open his own place. it's more an issue of economics it seems, given the info in the article. i've told a couple of my restaurant friends about him but none have followed up. i'd be interested to get his thoughts and will post anything relevant.

tony

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:41 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
TonyGreek welcome to the discussion, as you're not new to the board. :wink: Glad you joined us :D
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Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:50 am
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
I hear ya loud and clear Tony. Funny thing you should mention the collaborative efforts of preping foods for other businesses. I too have had the same epiphany, well sorta. Although I have not fully flesh this thought out completely, I have a few places in mind that I can propose some kind of arrangement with. Thank you for confirming, what I thought to be a crazy notion, to be more of a viable idea instead of poppy cock! Your idea of simply providing a possibly cold, prepared food item made days in advance is brillant!

My epiphany was the following scenario, being outside of the establishment doing your thing--working in collusion with an established restaurant. Here were just a few things I could forsee that would hinder this idea.
  • The restaurant not willing to make deals because it was out of the mangers scope to make it happen, or the lack of interest to talk to the owner, and or the owner simply not willing to think outside the box and horde the POS numbers.
  • Not making enough money on each sale because the business you are in collusion with wants a heafty percentage of the sale. Naturally, this would be the most difficult part of negotiations as to ensure that both parties were getting their just due. The business would demand more because you were banking off their property, staff, POS system etc. Regardless of the fact that in time you may draw more sales into the restaurant because of your barbecue. Those numbers may not change because you know that you may never get a peek at the books or the POS reports for the weeks or months prior.

The business completely captures drink, dessert, and side sales (one of the few of my selling points of the idea), employees get tips and I get paid--everyone is typically happy. There will not be to much overhead for me because I do not have the pay anyone but myself to provide to BBQ'd product. As elaborate as it may sound there has to be a sound happy medium in this idea. However, your prep idea is brilliant and simple.

LOL - some folks have stated that doing the parking lot would be a great way to get my name out there. I am still having trouble fleshing out a viable scenario that would actually work. I sure in the heck and not going to be the silly white guy out in the middle of the "not so desirable" part of town looking to make a buck. At that rate I might as well pack the .45 H&K as my kitchen tool!

I think you have an excellent idea that I can, and will, expand upon.

Thanks Tony
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Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:12 am
MReynolds well done
well done

Posts: 394
Location: Missouri, St. Peters
Belly, what about possibly preparing your BBQ items, packaging them, and selling in the local grocers? I know a gentleman who kind of started out this way. It doesn't cut out the collaboration, as the grocer would want some of that POS profit. But, I would have to believe that the overhead would be less than a restaurant.
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PETA - People Eat Tasty Animals

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:06 pm
BrockinFla rare
rare

Posts: 13
Location: Florida

Lots of good ideas here.

Some thoughts though.

If your going to sell food to the public, either you directly, or through a restaurant, you are not going to be able to do it through your private kitchen at home. Meaning you are going to need permits and a health department inspection with the associated liability insurance. So thinking you can make ribs in your back yard, vac seal them up and resell at the 7-11 or local Que joint will likely not happen. The restaurant has a major liability exposure when serving prepared food (meat no less) that came from somewhere else. Chances are the insurance carrier for the restaurant will not even entertain the thought unless you have all the permits, inspections, licenses and insurance.

That being said.

Believe it or not, setting up shop in a parking lot, roadside etc isn't really that bad an idea. Its relatively easier to get say a hot dog cart, permitted, insured, inspected etc then a professional kitchen. In this case of course you are talking a BBQ rig rather then hot dog cart. Depending on your local municipality you are also considered a vendor of sorts and not a professional kitchen, and most times the rules for permits, insurance etc are a little relaxed compared to full blown restaurant.

The best place to start any fact finding in regards to selling Que, is your local taxing and business licensing authority. This will tell you exactly what you need to legally prepare and sell food to the public.
Semper Fi

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:43 pm
smokyblues well done
well done

Posts: 496
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma
I have dreamed of making Q my career for awhile now and have talked with snooks, bob-bqn and a few other people on the subject.
Tony, whats the street vendor sell a rack of ribs for, ballpark price? Do you think he does it full time? I think that would be a good way to get started an on your way to cater or a restaurant and am very interested in the process.
Weber Performer
Weber One Touch Silver
Oklahoma Joe's 20" Barrel Smoker aka "Betty"

Keep it Smokey

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:46 pm
starpacker medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 53
Location: southern Arizona
Big,

My wife and I operated a mobile "hot dog" stand for almost a year and a half, before my disability and her diagnosis of sciatica forced us to quit. I designed, and we built our stand on a small trailer, using a Brinkmann Smoke'N'Pit Pro. When we took the design to the Helth Department,they were initially leary of using wood or charcoal, instead of gas or electricity, but after I showed them I could hold the temp in our cooker, they approved the design. At the initial inspection after construction, they approved the cart with no qualms, and we got our certificate.

We had a full menu of hot dogs and sausages, along with nachos, chili, and such, and did a good business. In addition, we did some catering, where we did just about everything from steaks to turkeys, doing very well also. Our biggest draw was that our food was mesquite smoked, and not boiled.

Our two biggest events were the Florence (AZ) Junior Parada, and the Superbowl XXX Party, where we took in approximately $1100.00 each event. Unknown to us, the Health Department guy was watching when we set up, and was impressed that we would not sell anything until the thermometer said it was hot enough.

I miss the stand, and wish you all the luck with your enterprise. Allen's Prairie Cookin' was a very successful operation, and the Health Department, at least in our county, was not that much of a hassle. I don't know where you live, but we did not have to get approval for each event. As long as we had our "Bible," with our certifications and business license, along with all the other paperwork, we were okay.
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Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 3:38 pm
Guest

in no particular order:

- the parking lot Que guy uses this as his sole income. i do believe i read that he didn't finish highschool and started because he loved to bbq and had to provide for his family. as for his prices, i'll let you know after my next visit. hopefully this week, weather-permitting.

- as for dealing with health depts, a not-to-uncommon thing is to "rent" a commercial kitchen from a restaurant's down-time. this gives you a health dept approved space, lower overhead than renting your own, and the restaurant owner makes a little extra money from off-hour use. problem here is that you could be living the life of a vampire. sauce makers, and other mass-made foods entrepreneurs seem to try this out quite a bit. my friends sell their dressings and sauces in local groceries that they make in their kitchens during off or down time.

i remember reading an article a year or so ago that detailed a woman's baked goods start-up and she rented the kitchen of a local gourmet grocery's cooking school. she ended up selling goods to the landlord and was able to prove her concept without the saddle of a lease.

- belly, the way i would do it would be to be transparent to the rib-consuming customer and performing more as a wholesale supplier to the restaurant. the scenario you seem to be describing is more of a co-branding effort between "Belly-full O' Ribs" and "Smith & Jones Restaurant". as a chef in a prior lifetime, you do have a leg up when it comes to the ins and outs of health code.

tony

Post Tue Jun 15, 2004 3:42 pm
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
Keep the feedback and real life experience a flowin. This is exactly what I, and the others looking to do this, what we need to get a rollin!

Thank you for all your input.

About the insurance. I guess fate was working it's magic because I found out that my assistant coach (I coach my little ones u6 soccer team) is a lawyer that exclusively deals with liability insurance, mainly for food operations.

One shoe in already--free advice baby!
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Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

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