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Bossmanbbq 03-21-2006 01:34 PM

This doesnt make sense..
I've been trying to put a business plan together for a catering business. As I have gone through this process, I have found all kinds of hoops I have to go through from finding a commercial kitchen to work out of, to having to purchase a commercial refrigerator.
Here is where the confusion comes into play. Two BBQ joints that I know of, both have gone from sit down and take out to just take out joints located in old drive up coffee joints. These places are roughly maybe 3ft by 5ft joints, obviously not big enough for a commercial refridgerator or 3 sink and wash sink with all the things I'm being told I have to have in place for catering, not to mention a restaurant.
So how do these places do business and not have the same requirments that other restaurants or catering people have to have? Hope this makes sense. Ill try and swing by one of these places and take some pictures so you will get a visual of what I'm talking about. It's almost like the Home Depot hot dog guy selling dogs with only a cooler, BBQ and condiments. Hope this makes sense. Anyone know the diffrence in all of this??


backyardchef 03-21-2006 01:38 PM


I'm no expert at all on this stuff, but as I recall from looking into this in NYC at one time, for food safety issues there's a distinction made between re-heating and selling previously commercially cooked food (like your hot dog cart example) and preparing, cooking and selling the food yourself. Most likely the hot dog vendor has a commercial space for receiving/storing supplies, waste disposal etc....I know someone with more experience and knowledge can chime in on this one....

Sawdustguy 03-21-2006 06:42 PM

Of course I am guessing here but I bet the little Que joints are operating outside the law if the Que is cooked there. Your best bet is to call your local board of health to be sure. Also if you need help with your business plan, your local chapter of the SBA has volunteer business people from the community who can help you with your business plan.

The Woodman 03-21-2006 06:45 PM

See if you can be exempt from much of this stuff by cooking on site. I can get a temporary permit for $35 in Ohio as long as all food is cooked on site. You have the Health Dept come out and inspect you each time you cook. I would strongly recommend you call the local health dept and discuss what options are available to you.

kickassbbq 03-21-2006 06:54 PM

They are probably cooking somewhere else and just selling it there. Might be doing so by BENDING the rules!!! Some people do that and get by with it for a long time. We came across the many hurdles you are going through here in MN and decided we didn't want to have an onsite BBQ business. We do cater. Here in MN, like many other states, you do not have to have all of the licenses and health dept crap to do Private Parties~!!!!! Insurance is a MUST.
So, if you market properly, and are only interested in a take out style business and not a sit down that needs working 16 hours a day six days a week, you can make money catering to Private Parties, spend very little time doing so and not have all the crap to go though to get a good business up and running.
Maybe not the way you want to do it, but it keeps it fun for me and I don't have to work at it much to make money and BBQ ONLY when I want. If I get a call for a Party, I either take it or I say I'm booked and tell them to try again sometime. If they want Q, they'll call again. Not many people out there doing it that way in my area.
Probably doesn't help much, but might be a good way to make some money, hone your BBQ skills and have some fun while you're starting the onsite business.
Smoke On!!!!

The Woodman 03-21-2006 07:15 PM

I agree! My plan is "don't try to be more than you are!" I am one guy with his family pitching in when needed. I did 5 cooks last summmer and cleared $8,000. If I can double that, I'll be happy. If I don't I'll still be happy. Any cash is a bonus. Don't go into big debt to do this. If you can do it comfortably, and not have to take every job that comes up, then go for it. I do not really negotiate price! Smokey Bones will supply take out for 100 at $6.34/person here. I am at $15.00/person, but, I bring a pit and cook on site. Plus, my stuff is a little better! :wink:

midnight 03-21-2006 08:17 PM

In SD you can get a Limited Item Food license that allows you to sell only a select few items, usually ice cream, popcorn, hotdogs, coffee, pop and candy, and items like that. For full service all you need is a 3 compartment sink- any size will do. I have seen some realy small ones like you see in a small camper. I fresh water supply- can be as simple as a water tank or a garden hose. And a place for the waste water to go- another tank.

As far as a commercial refrigerator, all you need is an accurate thermometer in your fridge or freezer- you can pick them up for as little as $3. The ones with the temp reading on the outside are nice but not neccessary.

Usually you need a handwash sink but a small wash pan with a water jug over it will meet code.

I don't recomend going this way. If you are going to do it , do it right. Or as best you can with what you can afford. Food saftey is the number one priority when selling to the public.

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