Have any forum members thought about starting a business with their smoked BBQ?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by chaze215, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. chaze215

    chaze215 Fire Starter

    I have been kickin around the idea of starting a business with smoked bbq. Do any members have their own business or thought about starting one? Food truck? Catering? Restaurant?

    Looking for any feedback, info or possible pitfalls with such a thought. Thanks in advance!

  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Several areas you have to be knowlegeable about - 

    1) place - has to be up to either state or federal inspection standards, including sanitation, drainage, potable water, equipment, processes, etc.

    2) product handling - use all inspected product, kept under constant and controlled refrigeration guidelines, processed and cooked via correct and approved methods, eliminate cross contamination, proper disposal of all waste material and byproducts, time and temp control for product reuse, etc.

    3) all permits and licenses obtained and maintained and paid for

    4) proper hiring of employees including all state and federal labor laws enacted, workman's comp, at least minimum wages paid, escrows maintained for different funds and funding balances, etc.

    5) ongoing sanitation processes followed at all times, temperature checks and logs maintained, no illegal additives, etc.

    These are just a few of the considerations you have to explore, become expert on and enact and maintain.  Ask BBally and Uncle Tykie for more specific advice.
  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Here is the most important piece of advice I can give you having been there. You need a business plan in place first and foremost.

    The plan should encompass all the aspects of the business

    What you plan to serve

    How you will deliver that product

    Facility issues including zoning and permits

    Take the time to research this or you will find yourself looking down the wrong end of a money pit.

    Good luck  
  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You need enough capital to get started and keep going.  Credit card debt will kill you and mortgaging the house is risky.


    Yes, they are expensive, but a "Necessary Evil" for contracts and covering your A$$!!

    Supportive Family!!!

    Without the support of your family, you will feel like you're alone on an island.  80 hour weeks are nothing, and days off are few and far between.

    The payoff can be fantastic!!

    Good Luck!

  5. Above is all great advice! One thing I would add.First thing is take the serve safe class and get certified, most all the states have adopted those regulations and it will help you know more about safe food handling , something the health inspector will like. I have had it help me smooth over the process of getting permits and stuff for a couple of weddings i catered in rented halls.

    I cater 2 or 3 parties a year and do a few pig roasts each year (have a home made gas powered roaster with two smoke boxes) , I currently I keep this small and as only an extra $$ maker. I do plan to add real BBQ to my menu options, but before I do I need more equipment and will not just max out the credit to buy it. I want to make everything I can myself and save that expense. It is hard to keep my equipment lust in check when I see all the cool toys that are available, and I can picture myself with all of them. But reality is the business has to make enough to pay for anything I buy on credit, and that rarely happens in a start up. Take it slow, plan ....plan ........plan....and check it again. While you plan the business part, work on exacting recipe's for everything in your planed menu, get costs and prep times down to a science, also that will help a lot when you get started and with some good luck become really busy, the food will flow and you can concentrate on serving customers which is the main thing that will make repeat business, good food served on time with a smile.

    Hope that helps and enjoy the process! Keep us posted on how things are coming.
  6. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Our handy dandy search tool here has an amazing amount of value when you want some info on a specific topic!!

    For instance...I put "starting a business with smoked bbq  " from your first line in and got this!!


    I imagine if you shortened the input on it to a few words (  like ..."BBQ business") you would get lots of interesting reading..

      Have a great day!!

  7. Going into the restaurant business, you'll have to bear in mind that owning a restaurant, even a small-scale one, basically means sacrificing your life for the sake of your livlihood.

    Having spent much of my youth mooning over the possibility of owning my own restaurant, I came to realize that doing so would have great expenses, frustration, and troubles to offset the freedom and creativity you seek in your business. The restauranteurs I know and have known gave alot to keep their employees paid and food on the table, and for many, it was simply too much; leaving behind them trails of broken families, fustrations, debt, and the haunting ghost of knowing your product will never satisfy everybody. Factor in the fact that your sacred recipes may be compromised for turn-around time and quantity, and alot of people end up becoming really bitter restaurant owners.

    This sounds like a real downer tirade, and I'm sorry if it seems discouraging, but it's an unfortunate truth. If I were to pursue a culinary business for my Q, I would instead run a low-key catering company that can be kep managably small, doesn't require alot of labor to operate, has no fixed location to cut down overhead, and can produe a small-lineup product that can create and fill its own niche, while still making room for a little fun in the margins with new recipes, and a rotating menu.
  8. I is a moose has a lot of points that are spot on about the down side to the restaurant business I was a cook for 5 years and ran a seasonal sugar house restaurant as my last full time cooking gig, so I have seen it all first hand. Also the business is one of the hardest to compete in if your not the "niche" that the area needs. I have had thoughts of making a go at a food truck some time in the next 5 years. But first I need to ramp up the catering and ramp down the racing ( loosing racing is one thing that kept me from diving in with both feet 20 years ago) to see if I can stand being back in the food business before I give up my current career.

    The food truck or catering is the lowest overhead and lowest risk, but could pay almost as well as a restaurant if you "get there".
  9. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I think we have all had the idea to sell our BBQ, because you just can't find a decent BBQ restaurant anywhere. Then the reality sets in and you realize what you would have to do to start your own business.
  10. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    All good info above....one of the roughest businesses to run, you are basically your own slave and will have no life to speak of. I have had 2 'mom & pops' of my own...one a U-Bake pizza joint when they first appeared many years ago & a small cafe in a one restaurant town. The glitter soon wears off. You're either cooking, doing dishes or working on ordering and/or  bookkeeping. Employees can be the biggest pain in the ass....and expensive (when they show up). It's also a good way to become an alcoholic and get divorced. My first gig was a 'hot truck' catering rig 30+ years ago, the funnest thing of them all. If I ever was to do another I'd do breakfast only and close at 11 AM...lol. I also did a stint as kitchen manager of a 300 seat beef house and cooked on the line....talk about a headache.  At 63, I'm now semi-retired and cook 3 days a week for 90 people with no responsibility, which I avidly avoid. If possible, pick up a part time gig in a restaurant to see what it's like for real and a behind the scenes peek at what's entailed. I always remember the joke 'how do you make a small fortune in the restaurant business??....start with a large fortune'.....but, on a positive note it can be done
  11. I don't think our handy dandy search tool is all that. I just looked at the link of the search results and of the top ten listed only one is about starting a BBQ Business and it is this thread we are writing in.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
  12. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Weeellllll exxcuuuuuse me!

    I just looked at it and it showed about 6 business related threads...And I did say shorten it up some for better results..
  13. Easy fpnmf! [​IMG]Don't be so quick to go off on people. Remember we are suppose to be friendly and helpful. [​IMG]  I wasn't knocking your suggestion. I was just saying that the search tool does not have a very good filter as evidenced by the first ten responses to the search. That being said, I just went back and looked again and realized that the search results were being sorted by the default "recency". When I switched it to relevance the results were much better. So now I have learned something about the search tool. [​IMG]  Have a happy day!
  14. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have been studying the 2009 Food Code, drawing up plans, researching necessary equipment needs/costs/current availability, developing a business plan, estimation of operating costs vs sales, etc, for the past couple of weeks. It seemed to be an overwhelming task. Here's the catch I see coming: if I don't take the time now to plan everything in detail, I will find myself banging my head against the wall later on when I'm struggling to turn any profit at all, and wondering why the whole idea is failing when it sounded so great from the begining.

    My intention is to have a mobile concessions unit, operated by myself and my wife, capable of serving approx 1,500 meals per week, with weekly restocking of foods and expendable items. This isn't something I plan on doing overnight, in fact, I don't even plan on getting the permitting process started for construction of the custom trailer for another8-10 years. I will say this: planning ahead and allowing yourself time to look at all the angles before you start is crutial to success. I haven't even looked into state or local permitting, however, I have plenty of time. My entire start-up costs for construction of the custom rig, insurance, permit fees, stock items, etc, will be paid in cash...no credit purchases, no loans. My restocking will be paid for in cash from the previous sales, while maintaining a comfortable savings. If I see the money end start slipping, I'll identify the problem and make adjustments to correct it on the spot. If something is dragging down the business due to inability to generate reasonable revenue/resale vs cost to store, prep, serve, then, it's out...at least until a more feasible method can be implimented.

    Being my busines plan will call for operation of 4 day weeks, it allows for a day or two of inactivity to get away and be people again. Then, spend a morning to restock with fresh food, fuel, expendables, etc, and get ready for the next 4-day run. If I can't make it happen in that fassion, it won't happen at all. I live in an area where good Bbq is non-existent. Q-joints are operated in a manner which would make my skin crawl if I were responsible for the bottom line. They serve food which is by no means an enjoyable meal to anyone who's had good grilled or smoked meats, let alone decent side dishes. So, first and foremost, I vowed that I would never allow myself to serve food prepared or served in a hastily driven environment. I'll take the time to do it right, or I'll just stay home. Word gets around quick about bad food. Word gets around a bit slower about good food, but given enough time, it spreads wide and far reaching...that's what my business ethics will be based upon. Give the customer a great meal that they will remember, and be talking about until their next visit, when you serve them something even better than the last time you served them. Strive to make every meal better than the last, and then neither you nor your patrons will ever have any regrets.

    Lastly, as touched upon in earlier posts, it will become the main focus of my semi-retired life, and if anyone involved is not ready for that, something will fail miserably...marriage, family life in general, or the business. If you asked anyone whos been around my outdoor kitchen, or had the opportunity to eat my rapidly growing list of favorites, they'll tell you that I really do enjoy cooking...heart & soul...when the cooker's are fired up, I'm always eager to see how everyone enjoys the outcome for my efforts. I guess you could say it's a labor of love, and it suits me just fine. If you aren't going to be happy doing it, then it's not for you. Think about this for a moment: would you like to partake in a meal prepared for you by someone who you knew was having a rough time with home-life? I can't say I'd want to be the one preparing the food in this instance...there's way too much at stake with public safety alone, not to mention your own professional and personal reputations.

    Again, allow yourself enough time to think everything through carefully, and plan for the unexpected. If all goes well, you'll have zero unpleasant surprises.

    Good luck!

  15. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I plan on working with a local caterer (part time type stuff) for a few years before I even consider opening a bbq joint. Just to start to learn the ins and outs of the biz. I plan on doing it eventually but taking it very slow and waiting for the right time, financailly and personally. I may start with a hot dog cart and serve pp sammies. I have a ton of research to do still. I would suggest doing your homework for sure.
  16. shellbellc

    shellbellc Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Check this link below, of the posts I've read about starting a bbq business, this one seems to be the grand-daddy of them all.  This covers a lot of the trials and tribulations of owning a business from the very beginning...pull up a chair and get comfy, it's a long read...

  17. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    My Grandson is a line cook on Stowe mountain in Vermont. He has to take a chair lift to work & then snowboards back to the parking lot at quitting time. He also wants to start his own food truck. He has a business plan & some very good recipes. Still the obstacles are overwhelming. Hope he makes it, but now he has a chance to cook on a cruise ship out of Hawaii. Personally I'd be on that ship ASAP.
  18. chaze215

    chaze215 Fire Starter

    Thanks for all the feedback and links guys. I really appreciate it. I understand taking on something like opening a business is quite a task and one needs to do a lot of homework. My brother and I had our own business about 15 years ago, but it seems there are MANY more pitfalls when it comes to the food industry. I understand all the hours that need to be put in and the headaches that come along with your own business. However, there is nothing like working for yourself. Those 12-15 hour days are a little easier to take when its your own business and well being on the line. I am certainly not ready for a restaurant, but I think a food truck/catering would be a viable option in the future. Again, thank you all for taking the time to respond and give me more insight and things to think about. [​IMG]

  19. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    If your GS can make it as a line cook on a cruise ship he can work anywhere . You figure the galley on a cruise ship cooks for 2000 to 4000 passengers 3 meals a day plus room service plus the buffet each and every day 7 days a week.

     Probably the hardest job he will have in his cooking career
  20. fourashleys

    fourashleys Smoking Fanatic

    My wife and friends have been after me to do just that, start a BBQ business. I am going to point them to this thread as I am tired of telling them that I don't want to do it. I know as soon as it becomes a business it's a job. The stress of having to make a quota to pay the bills and get a paycheck is not appealing to me at all. As soon as it becomes a job, I will no longer enjoy doing it. I love to BBQ and have many people who barter/pay me to BBQ their meat for them. I love it that way. My only responsibility is making my rub, my sauce, collecting firewood and enjoying running my rig knowing I can turn out good Q that other folks are happy with. I don't buy the meat and get to enjoy using my rig with my expenses paid for by others while I have plenty of room to throw something on for me and the girls. For me, that's the ticket!! Good luck to all who venture into the world of self employment as that is one thing that has made this country great. Just make sure you have your bases covered and backed up by an extra set just in case.

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