The Business of BBQ

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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Squiggle » March 10th, 2017, 12:15 am

temurf wrote:
Squiggle wrote:... you'll get about 20-30 sambos off a 10lb butt & with sides that's a tidy profit margin. :kewl:
Feel free to laugh at my ignorance Squiggle, but my guess is that a sambo is Aussie for sammich. =))
Sure is dude. :kewl:


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Mo Smoke » April 17th, 2017, 3:31 pm

Just another request for others to chime with their experiences in the Business of BBQ. Safetyharborredneck just did a big cook for a guy who supplied the meat and definitely got underpaid. In the end he didn't mind because He was happy for the experience and all, but still...it would have been an even better experience if he actually made enough money on the job to enjoy the business side as well.

We got some awesome Pitmasters on this site. Can't believe non of the guys here have a food truck, or does a good bit of catering.

I think it would be great to talk about both sides of the biz...the money.. and the food. I'm thinking about selling BBQ sandwiches at work..cooking is one thing.. but what about packaging? What works, what doesn't? How about Quantity of meat per sandwich? Do I sell rib sandwiches by weight or by the number of bones? What about Pulled pork and chicken? These are Just a few questions I have.

Even if you don't run a full business, share your biz experiences. Every bit helps.


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by RevRico » August 10th, 2017, 10:38 am

I'm actually wondering if anyone has any experience in PA?

I'm going to be calling the guy who used to do our annual pig roasts to have a good long chat, but in researching online before hand, it seems like a typical Pennsylvania "stuck in the 30s" situation.

I know I have to go to the department of agriculture and get safeserv, but I don't want a store or even a food truck. I want to be the guy that gets called out to cook pigs, butts, and or ribs for parties.

Tim used to show up with the smoker trailer, cook, carve, leave. That's what I want to do. I'd eventually like to expand to selling sauces at the cooks or online, but here that requires a commercial kitchen. And I can't find out anywhere if I can just "rent" my old bosses kitchen after his restaurant closes for the day or if I need something more unique to me.

Just asking for any information any Pennsylvanians may have, or anyone's experience with such a business.


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by behind bars bbq » August 10th, 2017, 1:09 pm

In Ohio I do it by donation only... keeps me legal


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Frank_Cox » August 10th, 2017, 7:47 pm

most states helth regulations are governed on the local level and secondly on the state and thirdly on the federal. the local regulations must be in sync with the state and federal but then the county usually is more strict from there. best place to start is county or city in my opinion. try to find out who the inspector is and make friends with them first. make sure and be cooperative and friendly. they often expect a fight lol.



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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Dirtytires » August 13th, 2017, 12:32 am

Ditto on the "be friendly" part.

This is slightly off topic but I did a major home remodel a few years back. My contractor was top dollar and did things right but he treated the city inspector like dirt. Therefore, the inspector failed us on some pretty silly things and the holdup was costing me money on labor and re-work. I started showing up at the inspections and chatting with the inspector, got on his good side by asking good questions and taking the time to listen to him. I actually learned a lot and the inspector was all to happy to share his knowledge. And best of all, I stopped failing inspections for silly reasons.

My point, your City health guy is probably a retired restaurant owner and all too happy to give his information to someone who treats him right and honestly wants to learn.



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Re: RE: Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by SAFETYHARBORREDNECK » December 4th, 2017, 8:57 am

Squiggle wrote:I agree, turnover is way more profitable than margin, i.e. Sell more small portions at a cheaper price than full slabs for bigger profit per sale. Working off Franks formula, if you sell 40 x 3 bone plates with $5 profit per sale it is way better than trying to sell 10 x full slabs with $20 profit per sale cause people are more likely to buy a small lunch for $10 than a big lunch for $40.

(The prices are more in line with Aussie prices but you should get what I'm saying. :kewl:)
I'm just now seeing this and I laughed because it's the same principle of my previous post about Skimpy bag Bob.
Also, this past weekend I put this into practice when I lowered the prices on my jumbo fried chicken wings. I was selling them 6/$8 - 12/$14 and not selling very many.
I lowered the price to $1 each,buy as few or as many as you want.Even though this weekend was slow here,my ticket sales on wings increased.People were buying 10 at a time instead of just 6.

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Re: RE: Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by SAFETYHARBORREDNECK » December 4th, 2017, 9:30 am

Pete Mazz wrote:Good money can be made selling pulled pork. Prices are cheap and you can hold and reheat with no problems. Nothing beats a good pulled pork sammy!
VERY good points Pete.Another lesson I'm learning is,at least down here,pulled pork is selling better than ribs.
It's cheaper meaning MORE PROFIT per pound and definitely easier to hold at temp or reheat.
I've also found to NOT sauce the meat.
Because 1-not everyone likes sauce or that particular sauce (I have 2 sauces in squirt bottles for them.A sweet one,sweet baby Ray's and a smokey/mildly spicy one,


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Re: RE: Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by SAFETYHARBORREDNECK » December 4th, 2017, 9:41 am

Mo Smoke wrote:Just another request for others to chime with their experiences in the Business of BBQ. Safetyharborredneck just did a big cook for a guy who supplied the meat and definitely got underpaid. In the end he didn't mind because He was happy for the experience and all, but still...it would have been an even better experience if he actually made enough money on the job to enjoy the business side as well.

We got some awesome Pitmasters on this site. Can't believe non of the guys here have a food truck, or does a good bit of catering.

I think it would be great to talk about both sides of the biz...the money.. and the food. I'm thinking about selling BBQ sandwiches at work..cooking is one thing.. but what about packaging? What works, what doesn't? How about Quantity of meat per sandwich? Do I sell rib sandwiches by weight or by the number of bones? What about Pulled pork and chicken? These are Just a few questions I have.

Even if you don't run a full business, share your biz experiences. Every bit helps.


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One way to do this, without an investor,is start small in your backyard.It'll give you time to learn ALL these things.Business side and cooking side.
AND give you time to build/buy a bigger grill!
Also,it will start to get your name out there before you go full time AND give you time to see if you WANT to turn your passion into a job.You may just stay small and do the occasional catering job.
And catering is something to look into.
Instead of sitting on the side of the road all day you can do a catering job or two a week.
Good luck in whichever path you follow.

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Re: RE: Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by SAFETYHARBORREDNECK » December 4th, 2017, 9:56 am

Mo Smoke wrote:Just another request for others to chime with their experiences in the Business of BBQ. Safetyharborredneck just did a big cook for a guy who supplied the meat and definitely got underpaid. In the end he didn't mind because He was happy for the experience and all, but still...it would have been an even better experience if he actually made enough money on the job to enjoy the business side as well.

We got some awesome Pitmasters on this site. Can't believe non of the guys here have a food truck, or does a good bit of catering.

I think it would be great to talk about both sides of the biz...the money.. and the food. I'm thinking about selling BBQ sandwiches at work..cooking is one thing.. but what about packaging? What works, what doesn't? How about Quantity of meat per sandwich? Do I sell rib sandwiches by weight or by the number of bones? What about Pulled pork and chicken? These are Just a few questions I have.

Even if you don't run a full business, share your biz experiences. Every bit helps.


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Selling at work everyday would be difficult I think. The best way to do that is to keep their interest. Sell it on Tuesday(Mondays people usually bring in weekend leftovers) and by Friday they might place an order for a rack or two over the weekend. And that is what you want. You want them to pre-order stuff. That's one way you don't have to guess at how much to cook that weekend.
As far as Packaging, I would cook it on Sunday and put it in either plastic baggies or vacuum seal it, so it is still fresh, unfrozen and ready to be reheated on Tuesday.
Rib sandwiches I would sell by the bone.
Pulled pork and chicken I'd sell by weight.
As far as the weight of the sandwich that depends on the size of the bun.
4-6(unsauced)ounces on a regular sized hamburger bun should be enough.

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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Rodcrafter » December 4th, 2017, 3:33 pm

So your laying down the :rulz:


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Mo Smoke » December 7th, 2017, 2:27 am

That’s what I’m takin about bro. Everything you’re saying is exactly what I’m thinking. But it’s good to hear someone else has the same thoughts especially after getting started. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Hope more guys start to do the same. I know there is money to be made but my greatest fear is losing one of the few things I enjoy doing to the headache of turning it into a job...next thing you know I’ll have to take up golf or even worse, start spending time with my wife !


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Cole » December 7th, 2017, 6:18 am

Where I work about every three or four weeks a guy brings in one or two coolers full of smoked links/sausages, vacuumed packed for $10/pack. Sells out all the time, but we have few thousand people at the plant. Good stuff and lots of work, they spend the whole weekend preparing, cutting, seasoning and then smoking.



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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Patersmith » March 24th, 2018, 9:27 am

I'll put my $.02 in:
I've had 2 small side gigs for a while. Beekeeping and lawn care. Both started innocently as a hobby for myself and expanded when I was approached by people seeing value in what I had to offer. They were never intended to be money makers in the beginning. Both started as being fun -for me, then became hectic as it turned into a business, and then settled into a routine after a while. Both hobbies at one point in time seemed to not be fun anymore. Right now I get more satisfaction out of the job than out of the money I make.

I think most (not all) business start out with people seeing $$$ and then realizing they can't just sit back and watch money roll in. At a minimum, I would suggest mentally being no more than 49% for the money and no less than 51% for providing a service. Think of it from the customer's standpoint. They have to want your product or service more than the money in their pocket. They don't want to give you their money just to fund your lifestyle. I remember a guy who got a large settlement and his family started a restaurant here in town. Good food and an awesome location (right by Walmart). The service was terrible and was highly inefficient. People stopped going and they had to move to a cheaper location which led to them going out of business. Another guy was giving it a go at my last place of employment and also had good bbq but was always ALWAYS late bringing it in. When you have a 1/2hr lunch, that will make you really mad and hungry when your food shows up 1/2hr late. People stopped ordering.

The guy that did it right was a guy who took orders from people at the plant and relayed it to his parents that day. The food was prepared and brought in and distributed. This started out on the first Monday of the month and done so well that it soon moved to every Wednesday of every week (don't know why it settled on Wednesday). To the best of my knowledge there was never any permits or food inspector involved since it was more of a private agreement of purchase and not open to the general public. I'm in a small town and not a big city so take that for what it's worth and not as fact. The vending company that owned the vending machines there cried foul that he was cutting in on their business proprietary agreement with the plant. However, the plant said they couldn't make him quit because it was essentially a delivery and not an in house purchase like the vending machines. He later left work and started a food truck in another town and I can't tell you what happened after that since I lost touch with him.

So, to wrap it up, I think it would be a great idea to just start small with little to no overhead wearing you down or adding to stress. Do a couple big cooks to get a feel for the prep work and cooking timelines for a while and throw a party with the food. Take notes. Get people talking about how great (or not) your bbq is at those parties and make any needed adjustments at this time. Mention that you could probably do their parties or wedding for a small fee. Start offering to do Christmas and Thanksgiving turkeys and hams - That's catching on around here since it frees up time and kitchen space during those days. Offer to supply lunches to your place of employment and go from there. Cut your teeth for a while before you present yourself up for the general public critique and make sure you can still enjoy doing the work. I have noticed that people will easily spread the word about the quality of food at restaurants and that will make or break you.

This way should let you grow as your business grows. If neither are growing, something is wrong and needs changed. Keep the learning curve from getting too steep. If you feel that it is becoming too much like another job, look at anything that will make it more efficient. In fact, that is something to strive for just as much as the quality of food. If it's hard or challenging you are more likely to get burned out.

OK, that's it! Never getting on forums anymore after 4 cups of coffee in the morning. Sorry for rambling on. ~o) ~o) ~o) ~o) ~o)



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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by SAFETYHARBORREDNECK » March 24th, 2018, 12:06 pm

^^^good advice^^^
Thanks for the input.
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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Rodcrafter » March 24th, 2018, 6:10 pm

Nice picture and informative thread.


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by hannibalsmith63 » March 25th, 2018, 12:44 pm

Your foodservice provider Like Sysco has analysis on all these items for unit or usage costs. They have all kinds of great info to help you be successful.


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Mo Smoke » June 8th, 2018, 9:33 am

Got some good stuff going here. Can’t wait to check out Sysco for more info.




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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Mo Smoke » June 8th, 2018, 9:35 am

It’s been a while since we talked shop.. anybody got new business info to share? Real life has been full speed for me so I haven’t even fired up since late April, much less sold any que. Just marinating on some ideas for ways to put out my product considering my work/life schedule.




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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Stewart » June 8th, 2018, 4:36 pm

Been burning some meat and selling. I have some weddings and parties I'm cooking for this month. Looks like July I will be cutting my trailer smoker off and mounting to my new 5th wheel set up. I'll show you some pics when it gets going. Life has a funny way of changing plans all the time. Good luck to everyone.



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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Bruster » June 8th, 2018, 9:56 pm

I'm in the same boat..I really want to get a trailer going!

Right now I cook once a month for friends and family..each cook I get about 4-8 new orders from word of mouth.My profit after everything is paid is roughly $7-800 which goes right into my savings account to fund the trailer build.I sell by the LB for brisket/pork..whole chickens..full/half racks.I do extremely well on pork and ribs!Brisket is starting to take off and some cooks I have alot of chicken orders and then a few the next cook.My wife takes care of the sides..slaw,tater casserole and sweet potato casserole

I know you want to jump right in and having an investor is great..but he will want his cut and if you dont do well that month it could possibly come out of your own pocket! Plus the feeling of accomplishment once you have built up your own business with the money from your Q is a way better feeling.

We have a few BBQ guys around town that seem to do well...I've had it all and it's nothing to write home about!Everybody seems to love my stuff(I had one knock because the ribs didnt completely fall off the bone lol) and I honestly think I could very very well

Not much help to ya but figured I'd chime in cause I'm in the same boat



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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Mo Smoke » June 15th, 2018, 6:37 am

Stewart u must be doing something right if ur going from trailer to a 5th wheel. Must be doing a lot of big parties and weddings too.

Thanks for chiming in Bruster. Once u started selling to friends and fam, how long did it take u get to where u are now in profits?




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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Rodcrafter » June 15th, 2018, 8:21 pm

SAFETYHARBORREDNECK wrote:^^^good advice^^^
Thanks for the input.
Picture is crack of dawn over Tampa Bay.
Enjoy your weekend fella's.and ladies...Image

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You know Roger, not everyone knows where Safety Harbor is. They might think your picture is at sunset since Tampa is on the West coast (Florida that is).


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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by SAFETYHARBORREDNECK » June 22nd, 2018, 6:08 am

RC, you are right.Most of my pics are SUNRISE. I am on the east coast of Pinellas county (that thumb on Florida's West coast), looking East across Tampa Bay towards Tampa.
Clear as mud?
Here's is this mornings view.
Oh, and so I don't hijack this thread...
Mo, take your time buddy.Start slow,in your backyard for friends and family.This will give you time to perfect your rubs,sauces,sides and give you a feel for everything.Soon enough you'll have orders rolling in.
Oh yeah, just say NO to investors!
Have a great day everyone and Happy Friday!!!ImageImageImage

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Re: The Business of BBQ

Post by Rodcrafter » June 22nd, 2018, 7:56 am

I didn’t say it looks bad. Very nice view!!!


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