• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Our new catering adventure


Fire Starter
Joined Feb 3, 2010
I have been tossing the idea around for a while....my wife and I talked about the other day.we decided that we are gonna go for it.

Well at my regular job, I had an accident and had to have surgery to fix my shoulder (reset 3 breaks, reset the joint and reconnect the bicep muscle)...So needless to say I a good amount of free time. So I figure while I'm recovering I can figure out a menu and pricing along with making everything legit (register our name, get insurance, talk to the health dept etc)

then once my arm is back to normal and functioning again I will finish building my equipment.

any pointers? suggestions? or ideas?


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Jun 7, 2006
Are you looking at doing this out of your house or find a commercial place to rent out...I would probably say start working on your menu, what you're going to offer, from soup to nuts, and the abillity to deviate from that menu if your customers would want it.  I would make sure that your recipes are down on paper in case something comes up that someone has to cook for you.   My BIL is a caterer but he's been established for awhile.  It's not really a hobby project in my mind...


Fire Starter
Joined Feb 3, 2010
I have all my own recipes and I am looking to do this out of my house. I plan to cook everything on site (that eliminates the need for a commercial kitchen) I have talked to the health dept and they sent me info on what I need in my "trailer"


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Mar 12, 2009

Now I know that florida doesn't it no way shape or form allow you to cook for others in your own house. If you don't need a commerical site but after all you won't be able to smoke or cook on-site. As far as your liabilty insurance you should have a ton of it. After all the way folks are theses days you really have to watch your P's and Q's for we live in a suing time in this country now days.

smokey mo

Smoking Fanatic
OTBS Member
Joined Sep 18, 2009
Good Luck first of all.  I am attempting sort of the same thing.  We are looking at converting the wood shop at the house into a kitchen.  It is separated from all living space and would be easy to convert.  Then we could cater out the 'side door' and still have our house and living space. 

I know the health department here says wink wink nod nod to trailers that have 3 basin sinks (even if those are basins on a table next to the trailer).  

Have a plan and start out on your friends.  Ask them to be brutally honest so you know when you can improve.  Educate them on what they should be experiencing.  They can be a great word of mouth advertising.  We even use the social networking site (FB) and let our small group of friends know when the BBQ is going to be fired up.  We generally have a very sizable list of requests for whatever is on the menu.  Now we have people asking if we will fire it up.

The group of friends we started with have already pledged to support and help when we officially open the business.

Keep it up and stay focused.

good luck



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Sep 13, 2009
good luck and my best advice would be 1) be in constant communication with your health department as you develope your trailer and SOP's 2) have a set target market, look at your competition and create your niche. 3) have fun dispite the long hours and sometimes frustrating clients.


Fire Starter
Joined Feb 3, 2010
My friends are the ones "pushing" me to start! They can't get enough of my Award Winning BBQ Sauces. Talking with the Health Dept. they tell me I do not need to use a Commercial Kitchen as long as I have a properly equipped trailer and all food is prepared on site.  I love it any time I get to use my smoker or my grill or my pit.  Low and slow for the best flavor then finish them off on a hot grill!

I think the biggest problem I'm gonna have is getting the health dept to approve my collection of UDS's lol...and my "drum grill" they tell me everything has to be NSF approved.....Dunno if a UDS can be NSF.......
Last edited:


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jan 6, 2010
The other side that isn't fun to talk about is $$.  I wish you all the best in your adventure, and someday I hope to do the same.  The main thing that holds us back is the money.  Make sure you have a budget and stick to it.  It's not worth losing family or a home over BBQ.  All in all have an exit strategy... if it doesn't work by this date, we call it quits.

I'm sure with your friends raving over the good eats, they should help spread the word to others.  Marketing will be your biggest challenge.  Have some fun with it though.  Ask a local hot rod club or MC club to come by and have one of thier gatherings at your place. 

Best of luck to you!!!!!


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 24, 2007
Best to start with the money;

Figure out what you need annually to live at the standard of living you and the wife enjoy.  If its 75K per year ok or 50K ok, but you need to start with what your expectations for income are.....

Then figure all reocccurrig fixed expenses... Insurance, fuel, health care, vehicles, taxes, licenses, utilites, etc.

Once you have these numbers you do the menu,  With the menu you will need to figure out the gross proit of each offering.

Once you have the gross profit margins you can figure out the amount of sales required to meet you lifestyle and fixed expenses.

Now it is time to look at the market you will serve and decide how to make the sales number you need for the business.

If this number works out to be real... we can get to marketing, business strategy, growth strategy, and venue strategy.


Joined Feb 9, 2010
Excellent advice listed above. Most people that start this type of adventure fail to realize one thing,IMO, what to do with the food that is prepared, on hold, then not sold in the allowed time frame, which varies from region to region. It is not allowed to cool off and re-serve, even though this practice happens way too often. That is the main reason I don't have a place open now. I sell my services on site or delivered. Stable numbers to work with that way. Whenever there is an overage that is within safe time zones, we have prearranged for the local shelter type agencies to receive. In fact that is great way, along with churches, fraternity halls, etc. to help by barter or rent approved kitchen to satisfy the local HD. Also one needs to look at surviving until the venture is profitable. Lots more to it than most think. And about barrel cookers being NSF rated, I'm working on gaining that rating now on my smokers. At this point, any area that is around the food has to be stainless, which makes them very costly. As said I'm working on another solution now. Hope to have answers soon. Good luck. Steve.

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.