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Good morning all..Looking for some suggestions.

CombatBarbecue

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I am completing a business plan outline provided by my local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) I am working on the start up costs section of it. I think my initial foray into the catering/food truck business will be small scale tent and table section to serve food and sides nothing crazy just enough to get me by while I am conducting "market research" sales etc.
Initially I think we are going to go with Brisket, Pork butt, Pork Spare Ribs, BBQ Beans, green beans, potato salad, side bread (Still working the final menu for these cooks)

I am looking for suggestions for things that I may be missing but I will need. For example food warmers to keep food warm prior to serving. Which ones work better for these kinds of foods.
Generators for power - Wattage??

Any suggestions or help from this community would be appreciated.
 

gmc2003

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That sounds like quite the endeavor - more power to you and wishing you the best of luck. I would think something along the line of a Cambro would work for the hot foods. I'd be a little weary on the potato salad. Mayo based products can spoil rather quickly. A generator would work, but may be kind of noisy. We have a couple of places that do BBQ out of a food truck, but they have refrigerators, ovens and sinks. On the street under a tent will be more challenging.

Chris
 

SonnyE

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I don't know where Appleton is, but out here sanitation is an issue. So the food trucks do have sinks in them for hand washing, and other washing I suppose.
If there is anyone in a similar endeavor around you, maybe talking with them could help.
 

TomKnollRFV

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Combat I strongly suggest you take a stroll through GFS and speak to them.

They're actually meant to supply things like this and IIRC, they have services to help you price and plan etc. As a rule of thumb make sure you can do the gig with out power. You've lived in our state long enough to know we can have wonky situations, and if you get a chance to cater the location might lack a power hook up!


I don't know where Appleton is, but out here sanitation is an issue. So the food trucks do have sinks in them for hand washing, and other washing I suppose.
If there is anyone in a similar endeavor around you, maybe talking with them could help.
Appleton is in The Fox Valley of WI. Not that'll mean much, but it's basically one of the 'bigger' areas of WI. He's all of 15 minutes from me lol.
 

CombatBarbecue

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That sounds like quite the endeavor - more power to you and wishing you the best of luck. I would think something along the line of a Cambro would work for the hot foods. I'd be a little weary on the potato salad. Mayo based products can spoil rather quickly. A generator would work, but may be kind of noisy. We have a couple of places that do BBQ out of a food truck, but they have refrigerators, ovens and sinks. On the street under a tent will be more challenging.

Chris
Yeah, my plan is to get to the point of having a fully running food truck at some point. Which would alleviate a lot of the issues as far as storage, power, cooking, etc.
So I suppose you could say right now I am just trying to get to the point of having a customer base to serve my BBQ too. I would imagine a lot of these cooks would be indoor setup with a few chafers etc.
 

CombatBarbecue

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Combat I strongly suggest you take a stroll through GFS and speak to them.

They're actually meant to supply things like this and IIRC, they have services to help you price and plan etc. As a rule of thumb make sure you can do the gig with out power. You've lived in our state long enough to know we can have wonky situations, and if you get a chance to cater the location might lack a power hook up!



Appleton is in The Fox Valley of WI. Not that'll mean much, but it's basically one of the 'bigger' areas of WI. He's all of 15 minutes from me lol.
Hello Tom,

Yeah I am by no means at the end all be all with this post. I have hours and hours of research ahead of me. But I will definitely look into GFS. And yeah, I am concerned about power issues which is why I figured I'd look into a generator. The noise would be an issue though.
 
Last edited:

InThePittBBQ

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Start with the health department at county level and make sure you know exactly what any bureaucracy that has domain over your business requires at a bare minimum for commissary needs.

Very few places left anywhere will allow caterer's to use a home based kitchen, at a bare minimum your likely going to need a certifiable kitchen with proper 3 basin wash sink, single basin hand sink, stainless NSF counter tops with appropriate employee postings with floor and wall coverings that will pass inspection for permitting.

We are in the very unfortunate process of selling off some of my favorite smokers that we have used for years in anticipation of new inspection standards that will require NSF certs, good friend of mine just took delivery of a brand new commercial offset for his business and they won't let him run it never had a fire in it and now after a nearly 10K investment he's forced to buy something else to keep the doors open.

You'll need liability insurance as well to protect you as a business entity, never EVER make the mistake of cooking for profit as a sole proprietorship sans insurance one person with a successful civil suit and judgement can take your life's work, home and savings away from you.

Food trucks and trailers are the answer to anyone looking for alternatives to a fixed place of business, start up costs these days are terribly expensive.
 

SonnyE

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Hello Tom,

Yeah I am by no means at the end all be all with this post. I have hours and hours of research ahead of me. But I will definitely look into GFS. And yeah, I am concerned about power isuees why I figured Id look into a generator. The noise would be an issue though.
Honda makes some amazingly quiet generators. Sizing depends on your total wattage needs.
But will power needs will likely be low-ish for a food booth. The highest thing that comes to mind might be a microwave, or griddle.
Just add up everything, and there you go. Probably a 2000-3000 watt max needed.
 

TomKnollRFV

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Listen to the older and wiser crowd over me Combat :)

Just let me know if you need help with some one to actually make food when you get there and the like. I might not be much use for heavy lifting, but you can bet I'll help with getting food made and making sure it looks good!
 

SonnyE

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Tom, my wife sez I make a pretty good Sous Chef.
I prep, she gets the glory. But it's good!
 

hardcookin

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Good luck with your endeavor!
I would add chicken of some kind to your menu. Pulled chicken is usually a hit, and a quick smoke.
Brisket not as much profit as pulled pork.
Another thought, to cook all this food your going to need a decent size smoker.
 

3montes

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You can get propane fired steam tables for less than the price of a Honda generator. I have a 3 bay one and love it. It breaks down for portability and will run on a 20lb propane tank all weekend anywhere. It has solved all my keeping food warm problems when I go somewhere and having power is a issue. I've seen guys pulling on generators for a half hour trying to get them started they can be high maintenance and fussy.
Here is a link.
http://www.bigjohngrills.com/categories/steamcollection
 

CombatBarbecue

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You can get propane fired steam tables for less than the price of a Honda generator. I have a 3 bay one and love it. It breaks down for portability and will run on a 20lb propane tank all weekend anywhere. It has solved all my keeping food warm problems when I go somewhere and having power is a issue. I've seen guys pulling on generators for a half hour trying to get them started they can be high maintenance and fussy.
Here is a link.
http://www.bigjohngrills.com/categories/steamcollection
Thank you for the suggestion. Looks a bit pricey for me right now. But I am definitely saving this for the future. I was thinking of just getting an 8 pack of Chafers off of Amazon to hold me over right now. Unless anyone on this fine website has experience with these and BBQ and doesn't think its a good idea.





Chafer.jpg
 

CombatBarbecue

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Good luck with your endeavor!
I would add chicken of some kind to your menu. Pulled chicken is usually a hit, and a quick smoke.
Brisket not as much profit as pulled pork.
Another thought, to cook all this food your going to need a decent size smoker.

Yes I initially wanted Brisket to be my main draw. But I see your point and can understand where the money makers are. I was also just about to go on an adventure see what kind of smoked chicken recipes I can find on here because I am planning on doing a smoke this weekend and taking some out to our local county dispatchers and another business to help get my name out there.
 

CombatBarbecue

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Start with the health department at county level and make sure you know exactly what any bureaucracy that has domain over your business requires at a bare minimum for commissary needs.

Very few places left anywhere will allow caterer's to use a home based kitchen, at a bare minimum your likely going to need a certifiable kitchen with proper 3 basin wash sink, single basin hand sink, stainless NSF counter tops with appropriate employee postings with floor and wall coverings that will pass inspection for permitting.

We are in the very unfortunate process of selling off some of my favorite smokers that we have used for years in anticipation of new inspection standards that will require NSF certs, good friend of mine just took delivery of a brand new commercial offset for his business and they won't let him run it never had a fire in it and now after a nearly 10K investment he's forced to buy something else to keep the doors open.

You'll need liability insurance as well to protect you as a business entity, never EVER make the mistake of cooking for profit as a sole proprietorship sans insurance one person with a successful civil suit and judgement can take your life's work, home and savings away from you.

Food trucks and trailers are the answer to anyone looking for alternatives to a fixed place of business, start up costs these days are terribly expensive.

Good morning InthePittBBQ,

First I want to say I appreciate your time in writing that out and helping me along. I can do a more detailed post if it interests people and hell, if any local people got some BBQ they want to pay for :)

I am in the very early stages of beginning this business and I am actually going to be attending a class provided by grant funding through the VA that will allow me the opportunity for $1500 dollars in funding. (Not much but its better than nothing and the class is around 500 to 800 dollars). As of right now no, I am not cooking out of a commercial kitchen but I do have a local commercial kitchen that I am in the process of contacting and figuring out the processes required for proper licensing etc.

What I am doing now is whats called Market Research. I am just trying to get my Barbecue out there to see if there is a solid consumer base that I can stand on before I decide to throw thousands of dollars at it. So to your point about caters and allowing me to serve, yes I will probably run into that issue, but I have to start somewhere.
 

CombatBarbecue

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Listen to the older and wiser crowd over me Combat :)

Just let me know if you need help with some one to actually make food when you get there and the like. I might not be much use for heavy lifting, but you can bet I'll help with getting food made and making sure it looks good!
Oh for sure Tom,

I definitely will take any advice,help, or just a good ole WTF are you doing? Also looking forward to trying some of the stuff you got smoking down there in Neenah. We will have to get together for sure after the holidays and such.
 

CombatBarbecue

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Honda makes some amazingly quiet generators. Sizing depends on your total wattage needs.
But will power needs will likely be low-ish for a food booth. The highest thing that comes to mind might be a microwave, or griddle.
Just add up everything, and there you go. Probably a 2000-3000 watt max needed.
I am rookie here with this kind of thing so bare with me. Is that exactly how you determine size of a generator you need. Just add the Watts for each component and then get one within that range??
Apologize if its a stupid question. I have literally never owned a generator before.
 

CombatBarbecue

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Thread starter
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Joined Dec 7, 2018
Start with the health department at county level and make sure you know exactly what any bureaucracy that has domain over your business requires at a bare minimum for commissary needs.

Very few places left anywhere will allow caterer's to use a home based kitchen, at a bare minimum your likely going to need a certifiable kitchen with proper 3 basin wash sink, single basin hand sink, stainless NSF counter tops with appropriate employee postings with floor and wall coverings that will pass inspection for permitting.

We are in the very unfortunate process of selling off some of my favorite smokers that we have used for years in anticipation of new inspection standards that will require NSF certs, good friend of mine just took delivery of a brand new commercial offset for his business and they won't let him run it never had a fire in it and now after a nearly 10K investment he's forced to buy something else to keep the doors open.

You'll need liability insurance as well to protect you as a business entity, never EVER make the mistake of cooking for profit as a sole proprietorship sans insurance one person with a successful civil suit and judgement can take your life's work, home and savings away from you.

Food trucks and trailers are the answer to anyone looking for alternatives to a fixed place of business, start up costs these days are terribly expensive.

In my previous reply forgot to ask do you run a BBQ business or catering business? Terrible news about your friend having to get ride of equipment. Did these new certs sneak up on them?? Just curious and really taking any information I can.
 

Bearcarver

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Tom I agree with Sonny about Honda Generators.
They are not cheap, but they're awesome. I would definitely get one with an inverter.
A few years ago, during one of our many power outages here, back in the sticks, my Son brought me one of his 5000Watt construction generators to power most of my house. I used it a couple times on my Micro-hood, and it ruined it.
Then I found out the power wasn't "clean" enough from a construction generator, so I bought a Honda 3000is for just under $2000. That worked great, but was a little undersized for my whole house, so I only powered my Fridges & freezers.
Then last year the mice got into the Honda & chewed off some wires. So I traded my Son plus some $$$$ for a Honda 6500is, because he said it was too big to move around to all his tower jobs. He's going to fix the 2000, and use that on jobs. Now I can power everything in my house during power outages, and the electric that comes from these Honda inverters won't harm any of my appliances, or computers.
Also these Hondas are unbelievably quiet. I run that 6500 right on my front porch, about 20 feet from my recliner, and I have to listen real close to tell if it's running.

Bear
 

InThePittBBQ

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What I am doing now is whats called Market Research. I am just trying to get my Barbecue out there to see if there is a solid consumer base that I can stand on before I decide to throw thousands of dollars at it. So to your point about caters and allowing me to serve, yes I will probably run into that issue, but I have to start somewhere.
There is no starting point that alleviates the laws required to prepare and serve BBQ for sale. You may not sell enough to cover costs for the first 90 days but your still on the hook for all the costs of being compliant to do your research.


In my previous reply forgot to ask do you run a BBQ business or catering business? Terrible news about your friend having to get ride of equipment. Did these new certs sneak up on them?? Just curious and really taking any information I can.
We cater and do most of the larger festivals in the Great Lakes region and some Farmers Markets in season.

In the BBQ business some old existing cookers are looked over or grandfathered in cases where the operation has a solid track record and the county doesn't have a firm requirement for labeled certification. In my case the county does not currently require a certified cooker but it's now required in some of the counties we travel to do festivals in.

I'm needing to replace some of my Lang smoker's that I'm really fond of and move to cabinet style units with certifications due to this reason. I'm faced with spending somewhere in the area of 35K in 2019 to buy a couple new cookers to make the same BBQ the old ones have made faithfully and without incident for some time now and an additional 75-100K for porch style trailers to install them on plus the possibility of having to replace some tow vehicles in the next few years.

As a start up invest in the long haul and buy a certified commercial cooker so you don't have to deal with that down the road it will be the law in all corners of the country soon enough.

But ultimately, it's not up to me or you but the health department they own you from day one and attempting to circumvent them in any way as a start up will make your years to come as a business a nightmare come inspection time.

Having a friendly and transparent relationship from day one with the health department and inspectors that is properly funded from a business standpoint to not cut corners or just get by on yields most operators that run a tight ship little more than a cursory glance when they inspect and everyone is happy.

Far as conducting "market research", your held to the same public health requirements as anyone else preparing food for consumption there is no legally doing it on the cheap and circumventing the rules.

Don't buy a thing until you sit down with the health department, your entire business plan will need to be written around compliance requirements to purchase what's needed. As I stated before, they hold total domain over you and your business and no other opinion on anything matters outside of what they require of you.

Also, look into getting your ServSafe certification right away it will help you before you initiate dealings with the health department and without a history in the food service business you may find it an asset in obtaining liability insurance.

Unless your flat broke and don't have much to lose in this life, be wary of conducting market research with a cooked and served product as a sole proprietor that's uninsured. Opportunists lurk in every corner of society these days and they would love nothing more than to call your home and life savings theirs for the taking.
 

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