Opening a mobile business

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by fischersmokin, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. Looking for some general input...what experiences others have had...possible landmines to be aware of.....

    My background- My parents owned and I grew up and worked in a restaurant for 10+ years, I have done some mobile style catering/selling during craft fairs of meals and funnel cakes. Fast forward to husband and I have been tossing around the idea of furbishing an enclosed trailer into a mobile unit that we could sell smoked and grilled meals out of at auctions, day events, or even just general opening on the weekends to serve food. My husband is retired, I am working full time in the office of an elevator and our last child is a senior this year so it will be just my hubby and me.

    We live in rural Nebraska, with the closest town over 1000 people is 20 miles and the next big town of over 7500 is 60 miles. We would not be relying on this as our main income but of the same accord I am not wanting it to be a giant money pit either.

    I have been researching regulations, inspections, requirements and the like and have been around them before so not totally new ground for me.

    Menu options we have been tossing around have been brisket, pulled pork,  pulled chicken, hamburger, dogs, pot salad, smoked mac and cheese, baked beans, tea, coffee, pop and Gatorade.

    Over this senior year our son is building a smoker from a 500 gal propane tank, and I have been doing lots of research on here for that also.
  2. kihler

    kihler Smoke Blower

    Keep it simple and know the people you are selling to. What do they like to eat? Make items that are better the second day or freeze well. This is all common sense. And the last item, make food you like to eat, because that may happen with the left overs. 

    Is there a soup kitchen in your area? Will they take donations of left over food?

    Good luck on your new adventure.   
  3. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Insurance is a must have!  I know of 2 that almost lost everything due to lawsuits.  Not trying to scare anyone, but we do live in a very lawsuit loving world...
  4. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Get to know your local health inspection office early in the process.  They will give you good advice on what they expect to see and would rather work with you than you against them. Most likely will require you to have a "commissary" or commercial kitchen as a home base. Mobile operations can usually partner with a church, local restaurant, or other business that has a commercial kitchen in place.  Sometimes you rent space/access, and other times you can work out trades. Inspections, permits, re-seller tax id, and insurance are must haves.  You will need the re-seller tax id to buy wholesale and without being charged sales taxes on your raw materials. Also check with your state tax authority.  In GA you can have a permanent tax id or they also have short term event permits they issue for things like flea markets, fairs, etc...  In GA the ID and registration are free.  Better to do it right (and pay sales taxes up front) than get bit down the road and be handed a huge bill with penalties and interest.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  5. I spoke with the food inspector this afternoon and had a really great conversation with him about what we will be needing and what I am going to need for the "truck" portion. Nebraska's laws differ from temp. truck to establishment, so I have basics I need but not nearly as complicated as a brick and mortar. Tax id is a must for us here too but its been a while since I had anything to do with that so that is a bridge I will cross later in the process. I am also talking to our insurance agent about general liability for this today and she is going to get some ground work for me. Nothing was said about having a commissary or commercial kitchen today, so I will have to find out more about that when I talk to him again. I did run into a menu costing spread sheet on here that I am going to utilize later. This site has so many great people and threads that have been invaluable to us.

    On a side note I am even thinking of maybe putting a "fatty" into the menu from time to time. They look amazing and I am going to try making one this weekend. I had never heard of a "fatty" prior to coming on here.


    You are amazing!!

  6. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sliced fatty sandwich!!!!!!!  Or how about "The Fatty Melt" (get the idea....)   Sliced Fatty & cheese biscuits (if you want to do breakfast). The variation of stuffings you can use in a fatty are pretty much endless.
    fischersmokin likes this.

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