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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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Old 09-29-2020, 02:58 PM   #1
mtm84uk
Got rid of the matchlight.
 
Join Date: 09-02-20
Location: NYC
Name/Nickname : Matt
Default Need help with permits/licencing

Hi,

A friend and i are starting a new BBQ business in Westchester NY.
Tyler at Shirley Fabrication has almost finished our build! We are very excited.

However, We have made many phone calls to the Health Department in Westchester and every time we get different answers as to what type of licence /permits we need to apply for.

Does anyone have any advice or guidance?

We will be smoking meats on the trailer smoker for a bunch of different breweries.
We have been told about a commissary kitchen. Do we need a sink? is it a mobile vending unit? or catering licence?

We really have no real solid advice.

Any help would be appreciated.

Matt
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Old 09-29-2020, 03:41 PM   #2
airedale
is one Smokin' Farker
 
Join Date: 10-19-15
Location: City, MN
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Most regulations are on line these days; try to find the pertinent sections of your city ordinances and study them to the point of memorization.

Have a face-to-face visit, scheduled ahead of time, and try to create a positive relationship with the person/people you meet with. Ask for advice, be submissive, try to elicit sympathy. Take good notes, consider asking for a letter summarizing the meeting if it goes well.

Do not argue or threaten, especially do not argue with their interpretation of their own regulations. Do not even threaten to go over their heads to their boss or to an elected official. If you make yourself a jerk in their eyes, they can ruin your business. They are civil servants and will be there forever. You will not. The elected officials will not.

The most powerful person in the world is a clerk who has a piece of paper that you need.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:08 PM   #3
mtm84uk
Got rid of the matchlight.
 
Join Date: 09-02-20
Location: NYC
Name/Nickname : Matt
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Thanks for the reply.

I guess i'm looking for someone who already does this in NY that could give a little more guidance.

I have looked online and nothing is very self explanatory on Westchester Gov website. As for meetings in person, i believe everything is over the phone right now due to Covid.
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Old 09-29-2020, 05:22 PM   #4
airedale
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Join Date: 10-19-15
Location: City, MN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtm84uk View Post
... I guess i'm looking for someone who already does this in NY that could give a little more guidance. ...
OK. That was just basic instruction in bureaucrat stroking. But in the end that's what you'll be doing -- dealing with individuals.

Do you know someone else in the local restaurant world who could give you advice on dealing with the locals, maybe a name of a friendly bureaucrat? "Joe Jones suggested that I call you. I need a little advice." is a great way to open a conversation if Joe is a friend of the bureaucrat.
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Old 09-30-2020, 04:39 AM   #5
ynotfehc
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Join Date: 07-03-13
Location: St Paul, MN
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Are there other food trucks in the area you can ask?
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Old 09-30-2020, 03:28 PM   #6
mtm84uk
Got rid of the matchlight.
 
Join Date: 09-02-20
Location: NYC
Name/Nickname : Matt
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There are plenty of "Food Trucks" but i don't know any that are just a Smoker on a trailer.

Do you understand what i mean?

It is all very confusing and like i said, i have had several different answers from Westchester Gov department.
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Old 09-30-2020, 04:50 PM   #7
Fat Freddy
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Join Date: 12-31-10
Location: Albert City, Iowa
Name/Nickname : Fred
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtm84uk View Post
There are plenty of "Food Trucks" but i don't know any that are just a Smoker on a trailer.

Do you understand what i mean?

It is all very confusing and like i said, i have had several different answers from Westchester Gov department.
Please dont take this as an attack, but you have had a few people give you advice and you dont really seem to like the advice given. And your reason is because everything is confusing and you will be just a smoker on a trailer.

It is hard to give advice for a "smoker on a trailer" but food trucks in area would sure know a lot.

But to take things a bit different direction. The only way to know for sure is to go talk to health dept and either taking notes or aski if they have something to give to help with what is needed.

In my area in my town a food truck would have to have a license, but since I was a homeowner I did not have to pay fee. However if I went to bigger city the fee was quite big for a year and heaven forbid if an event was coming to town, someone would sure see dollar signs. Yet if I went to the fairgrounds I wouldnt have to pay any of those kind of fees, however the fairgrounds would require a lot larger food liability insurance, and if mine wasnt big enough they would sell something to add to it.

I say all that simply to say same county but different areas have different requirements. And even what the county requires is different for different areas.

Then if i went to farmers market in town in different county but 8 miles away their health department requirements are different than mine. Friends who vend and cater in bigger cities have totally different requirements yet still same state.

So the folks offering advice are giving good advice but in truth we cant answer what is actually required in your area but if you actually talk with someone in person I bet they would be more than willing to help.

Sorry if that came across wrong it was not my intent.
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Old 10-01-2020, 07:15 AM   #8
ynotfehc
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Join Date: 07-03-13
Location: St Paul, MN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtm84uk View Post
There are plenty of "Food Trucks" but i don't know any that are just a Smoker on a trailer.

Do you understand what i mean?

It is all very confusing and like i said, i have had several different answers from Westchester Gov department.
You need to start asking questions locally to get direction on your permit and license. As you just said, nobody is doing exactly what you are doing in your area, so if nobody is in your area doing it, then how would anyone on a global community like this know what your requirements are? Start by asking other food trucks questions, they may have already asked the same questions you are trying to get answered, or they may have a contact that can help expedite things. Thats my advice, take it or leave it. Good luck
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Old 10-01-2020, 07:38 PM   #9
HBMTN
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Join Date: 10-16-08
Location: Virginia
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I'd suggest marching in to see the health inspector face to face and get a print out of what you need and all requirements. Here in Virginia you pay a fee up front and the HD does what they call a Plan Review and must approve your plans and mobile kitchens prior to purchasing them. I was told when I went into business years ago that if I bought a trailer without the pre approval it could need alterations and or not pass inspection so it's a good idea to get the HD onboard asap. Remember, it's their world and you just live in it LOL so get documentation of everything required and if told something different the next time you talk to them then break out the paperwork you were given before. Good Luck!
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Old 10-28-2020, 05:15 AM   #10
BuffaloDave
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Join Date: 03-06-19
Location: Buffalo, NY
Name/Nickname : David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtm84uk View Post
Thanks for the reply.

I guess i'm looking for someone who already does this in NY that could give a little more guidance.

I have looked online and nothing is very self explanatory on Westchester Gov website. As for meetings in person, i believe everything is over the phone right now due to Covid.
You're going to need insurance first in order to get a commercial kitchen. Then it'll have to be inspected. For what I'm doing they told me catering license. I'd assume that's what it would be but not definite. I called the health dept several times and they were really great about assisting me. You'll also need a permit to collect taxes from NYS. All of this is assuming you have already registered your business and got an ein number.

As far as a "smoker on a trailer", if that's all you have you'll need much more in NYS- water, a separate handwashing station etc. They have pretty detailed instructions on the NYS website.
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:58 PM   #11
mgordon
Wandering around with a bag of matchlight, looking for a match.
 
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Join Date: 05-02-19
Location: West Orange, NJ
Name/Nickname : Flash
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I feel your pain. I was looking at doing the same thing in Jersey before Covid hit. Hard as hell to find real answers, and the smoker trailer is a bit of a unique thing, that can't be found around here. Here is what I recommend. Go to commercial kitchens and learn from them everything you can. You may/may not end up needed a membership at one of these, and they love to share info in an effort to get members. Some even do workshops. In Jersey, you have to have a permit for every town you want to sell in. So start with your local town, go to the city offices (many times if need be) and track down the official in charge. Bring pictures of your trailer and build so he can give you ideas of what is missing. There's a newish company in Essex County called Smoke Shed BBQ. Although they mostly do online business, shipping their product all over, they do have a trailer and large smokers. See if you can reach out to the via facebook and if they'll spend some time with you.
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