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Living the dream - Big D's possible BBQ Business!

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Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Well there has been a lot of talk as of late about people thinking of opening a BBQ catering business. I might be getting into something along those lines for a summer job and thought you might be interested if I shared some details.

I am an avid business student and have attended business meetings, chamber of commerce, provincial economic advisory boards, and even meet with Canadian and foreign leaders - things very few people my age (or even some of the worlds largest corporate leaders for that matter) ever do. Not to toot my own horn or anything but business is my thing - just like science or sports or cars are the obessions for many other teens.

Anyways that got me started in business case consulting and business plan writing competitions for scholarships and I have won quite a few and have always been told I should follow through cause I had some great ideas. Well today I was offered a grant of $5,000 but only if I actually take on the venture plus a significant greater allowance more in interest free loans (as part of a young entrepreneur scholarship program). So I am considering doing that inwhich I enjoy as much as business - BBQ.

How the business would operate is actually a food vendor. There are some significant tourists events in my next of the woods and the closest thing on our waterfronts to BBQ is hot dog vendors - and they are quite popular. I figured I would Take my "D" down to the Waterfront and cook hotdogs, jumbo dogs and sausages of course but also offer my famous Collossal heartstoppers and more importantly BBQ smoked ribs and Beef Sautee. Each Item would have the option of a meel with A peice of BBQ corn on the cob, chips and pop extra. I have thought about packaging just a few bottles of my own BBQ sauce and Rubs just incase someone wants to buy some. I will also cater a few events, but only on request.. mainly this is things like Canada Day inwhich I help throw a party for friends but they have alwyas offered to pay me in the past.

I will have to purchase a small Hotdog cart because of health code regulations I require running hotwater but I think I might have found one with a large freezer and I will simply use that to store ICe cream bars and beverages. The only other major expense is I now need to rent a small trailer to tow the D, or securly fasten it to a pickup with lots of cushions and strong hands cause I dont want my baby scratched! Just a few Inc and registration fees ( I will inc because I dont want to be personally liable for any nut that 'claims' food poising)

Well just thought I'd share! Hope ya enjoy my anecdote. As you can imagine I am very excited as some of the hotdog vendors did upwards of $5000 a day in revenue on just hotdogs last time tallships were in town 4 years ago... and they return in just over a month

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 5:02 am
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5898
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
You've got a good idea. I have a friend here in Edmonton who runs a hotdog cart, and he clears around $1000 a day after expenses. He precooks the dogs so they only take a few minutes on his cooker, which is a converted small Fiesta gas grill.

I'd recommend the trailer rig you mentioned rather than something you'd need to cushion your truck box from. Trailer rigs are much easier to set up. Another possibility I might add is to use something like a converted postal van. I know a couple of folks who do chinese food or Italian sandwiches this way, as well as french fries. I'm not sure how BBQ would work, though.

Now, I mentioned that my hotdog cart buddy has most of his dogs precooked and sitting in a steam tray full of hot water. This way he can serve a thousand or so a day. How do you plan to do this with BBQ?

You can't keep ribs in a batch of hot water like you can hot dogs. For several reasons, I don't think they Health Board would let you keep a cooler full of raw meat on the cart, either, and besides, raw ribs would take too long to cook if you planned to sell more than a few batches. Are you planning to precook the food?

Steven Raichlen mentioned his dislike for precooked ribs, and I'll bet that a few others here would agree. I've found that precooked ribs have a nasty habit of falling apart, and are virtually tasteless except for the rubs and/or sauces you put on them. Now whether the customers you serve think this is the case could be a totally different issue.

I'd like to hear more.

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 7:21 am
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5898
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
A quick P.S.- you said the tall ships were in town soon. Would that include the HMS Discovery from the UK? I saw her in Dundee, Scotland 15 yearsd ago under full sail, and she was magnificent!

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:45 am
Big Belly rare
rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
I wish you all the luck on your new adventure. Please share with us your successes and pitfalls so we all can learn.

I too will be taking the plunge very soon. I may waggle my toes in the water and try a couple of ideas before I go full tilt. If it pans out then hey I will be happy, if not then I will have one heck of a BBQ to show for it.

Good times.
~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:55 am
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I am not sure if the discovery will be there or not but last time, and should be the same again, there were hundreds of ships and as you say they are absoulutly magnificant under full sale. But most importantly the pride of Nova Scotia will be there, the legendary Bluenose II (see Canadian dime for picture) as well as many other Nova Scotian made ships such as the Bounty.

As for hotdogs and sausages and what not, many of the vendors in my area that do them on the grill precook them and move them aside and simply reheat them on order and I think I would do much the same. As for the Ribs these has been something I have been contemplating... I could get there early in the morning and do a few batches low and slow all day and like the hotdogs have 4 of 6 burners very low and 2 on medium and just move the food over the higher heat, and perhaps turn it up to high at that point, to finish cooking the meat. The other option would be to cook them the night before and vacum seal the ribs then cook them per request for 5 mins. Neither option is as ideal as cooking them in a traditional style but it might still be good enough for a food cart

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:51 am
MReynolds well done
well done

Posts: 394
Location: Missouri, St. Peters
Something to think about is the yeild amount each item provides. Example, I can get a lot of pulled pork sandwiches from a butt, but only a couple servings of ribs from a single slab. Now that I think about it, pulled pork BBQ sandwiches would be great for a cart vendor. You could smoke the butts over night (or any time prior) and I think they would keep very well in a steam table. Then just have a couple of different sauces to top off the sandwich. You could have a sweet, a spicy/hot, a mustard, you name it.
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PETA - People Eat Tasty Animals

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:15 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5898
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Another idea we've kicked around on one of the threads I started was reheated pulled pork. You could have a tray of the precooked stuff heating on a small steam tray while the rest is chilled in a Coleman cooler. Use 2 steam trays- serve from one and reheat the chilled stuff in the other. Meanwhile, you could sell brats, smokies, hotdogs, or whatever right off the grill.

2nd idea- what's to stop you from using more than one smoker? Use one for "flash value" while the other just sits there and cooks. If you use a few rib racks you could fit a dozen or more racks on an average smoker.

You might want to make your own racks, though. The racks they sell in BBQ shops won't hold many. Try getting a fabricator to build 3 custom sized ones for your smoker, each one taking up 1/3 of the space. That way you can remove one rack and smoke a shoulder, or BCC, or whatever you fancy. This also means that if you find a really good price on chicken, or pork, or brisket (etc.) you can take advantage of it as well as offer your customers some variety.

3rd idea- if you plan to offer a variety of foods, try doing what I did for a friend's hot dog cart. I painted up his own sign for the front of the cart, but the menu items were painted on removable wooden plates. Each plate had a menu item and price painted on it- eg. "Jumbo Hot Dog- $3.00" or "Italian Sausage (Sweet) - $4.00".- and the plates had 2 holes drilled into them that attached to dowels on the sign. Each plate was about 2" x 12" x 1/4", so there was plenty of room to paint big letters and we didn't have problems with spacing out long words.

The sign worked like a charm. If he ran out of an item, he could simply remove it from the sign. Conversely, if he wanted to try a new item, all he did was paint himself a new sign plate. In addition to hot dogs my friend wound up selling chicken, shish kebabs, brats, and a lot more. The system worked great for special items he didn't have a lot of. Plus, if prices went up he could always repaint the individual item's sign plate rather than the entire sign.


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