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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 12-10-2013, 09:42 AM   #1
early mornin' smokin'
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Default new restaurant, timing, ordering, etc.

So i'm in the process of renovating and opening a BBQ place in my hometown. We're trying to nail down our timing, and our quantities. We plan on opening march 1.

Timing wise, we're cooking on 2 fec-120's. So we'll be doing butts and briskets overnight, to come out at 6am and into the alto-shaam. So we'll load up the FEC's at around 4pm and run on 165 for a couple hours to lay down some smoke, then 12 hours at 225. Once the big meats come out, we'll do our smaller stuff, ribs, chicken, daily specials. We also have a spicewine on a trailer out back for when we have to pump out more.

Quantities - we're planning on 3-400 people for opening day. Hoping to continue on at a 250-300 customer a day volume. So, to my best calculations, assuming 1/3lb servings. I'll need about 125-150lbs of cooked product to satisfy that volume. With cooking losses, trimming, snacks, etc, I think 300lbs total uncooked is a good starting point. Split up between butts, briskets and ribs. Our goal is to cook just enough to sell out daily. If there's carry over it can always be used the next day for a bbq chili, or another special of the day.

Any and all input is appreciated.
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Unread 12-10-2013, 12:11 PM   #2
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Initially, I think you are going to have to either:

1. Over cook in terms of quantity, all of your main meats, until you can determine which are your best sellers.

2. Take a guess and go heavy on what will sell best and adjust daily

Either of these two options means there will be left over meats, or you will run empty and realize you guessed wrong. 400 covers to open and 250 covers a day for a new place, that is pretty optimistic. I think you are spot on with the 1/3 pound, assuming you are throwing a side and starch, that is plenty of food.
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Unread 12-10-2013, 06:21 PM   #3
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I guess your location could be a huge factor on sales. If you are in a large area with tons of traffic you may be correct with your guestimates. For me I would have to say those numbers would be a dream to turn in my area. If I were running a lunch and dinner service restaurant here I'd be more like 50-75lbs of cooked meat per day probably, maybe a little higher or lower
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Unread 12-10-2013, 07:25 PM   #4
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What if a customer would like 1 lb? 10 lbs??

I'm anxious to see how this goes as far as cooking fresh till gone on pellets.
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Unread 12-10-2013, 08:18 PM   #5
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As Landarc stated you are very optimistic about turn out your first couple days, unless you have been really going overboard on advertisement. In fact I suggest you don't do much of that, for at least a couple weeks, to give yourself and crew time to work out the kinks, and believe me, there will be kinks, then go all out on the ads for a grand opening. Remember it is not a sin to run out just don't make it a habit. Leftover meat can still be good to sell as bbq, and does not need to be used in something else like chili the very next day. For awhile you will probably run out, or toss out food even when you get a better handle on it. If you suspect you have to much and wont sell it before it needs to go have some specials to help get rid of some of it, at least before it all has to go, just don't wait to long. I suspect March is a cold and dreary weather month not a great environment for bbq, so plan accordingly. This should make it clear as mud right? I have to add, unless you have a ton of foot traffic, then adequate parking is essential, and can kill a business if it does not exist, before it ever has a chance to get off the ground. Good luck.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 03:09 AM   #6
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get your food done, putting whole butts in to hold then pull when needed is not good...especially if thinking about serving 400...get your stuff ready to serve and go..unless you have a huge staff...as Bubba asked, what are you going to do about a bulk order that comes in? I keep my pulled pork in 5 lb trays, a 1/2 tine works exactly at 5 lbs..they are pulled, lightly sauced, extra rub, saran wrapped then foiled..then held..or cooled for re-heat..
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Unread 12-11-2013, 09:36 AM   #7
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bigbelly, i know i'm being optimistic with my planned 400 serving count. Realistically it'll be more along the lines of 250. If I cook enough for 400, i'll have enough to be sending out bulk trays, and possibly have some leftover for breakfast hash or chili for the next day.
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Unread 12-11-2013, 09:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by early mornin' smokin' View Post
bigbelly, i know i'm being optimistic with my planned 400 serving count. Realistically it'll be more along the lines of 250. If I cook enough for 400, i'll have enough to be sending out bulk trays, and possibly have some leftover for breakfast hash or chili for the next day.
What will you do when you only get 45 guests on a rainy cold Tuesday?

My point is you cant run a restaurant based on estimated numbers until you have a couple years worth of data to get those numbers!
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Unread 12-12-2013, 04:33 AM   #9
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What Bubba and I are suggesting is to start thinking about big days and days when you have people cleaning as not enough customers to sell to. DO NOT save your pork or brisket for chile and stew and hash, set your self up to use...properly stored you can re-heat as you go...Ribs are harder to reheat, however a broiler or grill works just fine. I can re-heat and serve to you and you will not be able to tell the difference. Yes, fresh is the best however you need to be able to bounce the ball.. I have watched the weather, watched other events in the area, expected a big day , expected a slow day and after 4 years of between the restuarant, vending, catering and 33 years of pig roasts(only a few a year), I have figured out I am not that smart, however what I have learned is to prepare for the best and expect the worse. So, have a freezer empty to fill up.....
I do not want to deter you, actually to ultilize you food for your maximum return, the meat to be used in a sammy not as a filler in other by-products, as this is where you use the scraps not the main meat that will yeild 12 dollars plus a pound. The scrap from the brisket will make great soups and stews, chile etc..
Everytime you store a tray, wrap it like it will be stored and you will be happy nest saturday when you are selling out and need 10 pounds to finnish the day..
I mostly work with limited help so I have to prep a head of time and be ready to go..When I was a memeber of Urban Spoon, we were voted #1 BBQ and I did not cook every night, just monster runs when low..Chicken and ribs got cooked every day, left over racks become back ups or I made up take home specials if I had too many, take home cold and be a hero on your grill
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Unread 12-12-2013, 08:31 AM   #10
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big belly, thanks a lot for all the insight. I plan on being closed monday, open tues-sun. I know for tues/weds I plan on having that stuff pre cooked. Pre prepping trays for the busier days is a very good idea. I'd still like some stuff being hand pulled in front of the customer, they always love a little show. Where is your place upstate? any ski mountains near by?
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Unread 12-12-2013, 11:31 AM   #11
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tues /weds is when to do the monster cooks, that way prep/wrap/clean up is out of the way...same goes for mac n cheese..get the mess out of the way..I am on the shore of lake erie..
for the show I do have a heat lamp to slice brisket or beef or pork..for pulling the meat will get cold..
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Unread 12-18-2013, 12:19 AM   #12
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This all great advice on holding and prepping. Does anybody have a method for holding chicken or ribs? I have had good luck with the butts and I think the brisket is good as well. Not sure on the ribs and chicken though.

I was thinking of doing the ribs and chicken(cooked in halves) in the mornings and having back ups that were held from the previous day if needed?

Any advice is appreciated as I will need to control my waste to be profitable.

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Unread 12-21-2013, 02:39 PM   #13
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Develop a good chicken salad and Brunswick stew to use up your chicken. Cooked poultry just doesn't hold for long - the skin gets rubbery and the white meat dry pretty fast, even when you take measures against it. We run smoked chicken halves it every day and what doesn't sell promptly gets repurposed.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 03:26 PM   #14
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Not that anyone in the Buiss. wants to hear this but after your opening trial run for staff training and dial in process, if you are comfortable and have fridg.-freezer room donate to a local soup kitchen or food pantry.I know I will probably get flack for saying this for potential legal issues but it is a tax wright-off.The last thing you want to do is serve less than stellar food in the opening weeks and it gives good advertising should it come to that point.You may see loses before gains in the beginning as most do but at least it wont hurt your reputation.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57borntorun View Post
donate to a local soup kitchen or food pantry.
That's what we've been doing the past few weeks. We were supposed to have a grand opening two weeks ago and something fell through at the last minute, which left us with a lot of extra food that couldn't get served, or even consumed by all the staff and their families. But one of my cashiers volunteers at the local Salvation Army and they host weekly dinners for the homeless and are more than grateful for anything we can provide them since food donations are so low right now. Good karma FTW.

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Does anybody have a method for holding chicken or ribs?
My advice? Don't. If you've got a good CVAP or alto-sham, you can hold ribs and chicken for a few hours no problem. Long term hot holding, not very good. Fridge/freeze and reheat, also not very good. Of course that's just my opinion and when it comes to ribs especially, I only want to serve those as fresh as possible.

I put butts and briskets in the CVAP and will hold overnight or even up to about 18 hours without noticeable quality loss. Ribs and chicken are another story. After 2-3 hours I start to notice a drop in quality in texture. So when it comes to ribs and chicken, since they don't take long, I try to cook them shortly before the lunch and dinner times and stagger when they go on and come off so that holding times are kept to a minimum. But anything that doesn't get sold, I repurpose for chili, stew, chicken salads, etc. I'd rather repurpose if I cook too much or risk selling out a little early than sell product that isn't my best.
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