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.