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Old 03-29-2011, 01:25 AM   #1
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Default Need some info on the mobile pit BBQ catering business

I'm considering an offer for an equity stake in a business that uses one of those towable mobile pit BBQ grills/smokers to cater events like outdoor sporting events or work by contract with companies that want you to show up at lunch time I guess. This one can handle about 600 meals at once when fully loaded and has the plumbing, refrigeration, power generator, etc...it was custom built for about 5k and it's pretty sweet.

Since we undoubtedly have plenty of tailgaters in here, I was wondering if any of you have ever been in this business or know people who are or have been. Basically in this deal I would handle the business side of this thing. I'm wondering how competive this business is in a large urban market, what the parameters are on estimated profit margins, etc...that kind of thing. I've seen revenue projections all over the map for this kind of business, ranging from break even to $200k a year.

I have the option of taking a net profit percentage (20-33% depending on whether I decide to become a full partner or not. Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:49 AM   #2
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I don't know much about the business, but I wouldn't be investing in much of anything right now.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:07 AM   #3
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I don't know much about the business, but I wouldn't be investing in much of anything right now.
I take the opposite view...an entrepreneurs perspective, and we are attracted to chaos and change, hence I see this as being a great time to go after it, but in this case my investment is primarily time, not money, though I might kick in a couple grand at start up.
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Old 03-29-2011, 05:34 AM   #4
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1) How big's the trailer overall and grills? Includes food warmers, smoker or flattops?
2) I'm guessing you have the tow rig, seperate dry/frozen storage space and overhead budget.
3) Permits shouldn't be a big deal, only keeping up with sanitation on site to prevent suits.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:00 AM   #5
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I don't know much about the business, but I wouldn't be investing in much of anything right now.
I agree, buy high and sell low is my philosophy.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:37 AM   #6
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I would imagine that revenue projections from a business like this are all over the map because they are directly related to how hard\when you work....which has a wide margin of variability.

I love the whole food truck thing. In fact, New Orleans is far behind the curve in this area and you could do very well here with one. However, the market segment you seem to be targeting is less of the day-to-day lunch crowd and more of the specialty events.

I would project with that business model that you will be busy Fri-Sun and slow as hell the rest of the days unless your contract work for lunchtime is exceptional. Can you really generate enough revenue with just that limited schedule? I would not put you on a 200k\year revenue stream with this business model.

Now a business that lets you hit the every day lunch crowd without a specific contract and then work specialty events on the weekend would be interesting. I think the trend is definitely still moving up for mobile food. The roach coach stigma has been replaced with a coolness factor. Something like the Red Hook Lobster Pound in your area I bet can pull in that type of revenue.



- Go high end with the food.
- Give the food a coolness factor.
- Make sure your partners are putting in the time it will take to be out there every day.
- Use social media.
- Consider alternative revenue streams like a line of bbq sauces, branding apparel et al.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:50 AM   #7
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What the guy above me said (worm). We have the mobile food trucks in our area as well. As a matter of fact, just had some the other day. What I find interesting is that they have to park in random lots around town because lots of businesses do not welcome them. They are constantly on the move and hit areas where they can setup shop. It seems the special events and catering business, is what these trucks are looking for. But, they seem few and far between so far.
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:45 AM   #8
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I eat at mobile food trucks everyday. Our office is on the far south end of Downtown and there are no restaurants within walking distance. The food trucks make a killing at our office because they provide good food at a decent price.

I think the potential success of a business like mobile BBQ is how well the guy can cook. BBQ is an art.
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:49 AM   #9
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I eat at mobile food trucks everyday. Our office is on the far south end of Downtown and there are no restaurants within walking distance. The food trucks make a killing at our office because they provide good food at a decent price.

I think the potential success of a business like mobile BBQ is how well the guy can cook. BBQ is an art.
This is a great point. Slow roasted BBQ is the best. For fast food, you'd probably be better off grillin stuff.
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:52 AM   #10
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There is always a market for that stuff. I have a friend whose dad runs a place out here who does that exact same thing and makes a KILLING. Especially come summer time.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:00 AM   #11
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The rig is 12' long, not sure about the grill or pit, maybe half that, and all the cold storage, water, etc is on board. Its an open air thing and would need some kind of awning/cover so that's the only other expense, and the guy who built this could probably do that part. The cooks (2) are both excellent and I'm satisfied on the other questions. Mainly I'm wondering if it's worth the time commitment to plug into the business management side...I won't be cooking. Time is more precious than money to me since I'm putting in alot of time on my primary business already. It sounds like the market will bear enough different options to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Have any of you actually ever been in this biz though? I'm looking for someone who has some knowledge on the probable profit margins since that's how I'd decide this. If it's low I'lll probably pass but it sounds encouraging at this point.
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:45 AM   #12
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I knew a really successful mobile BBQ entrepreneur. Didn't make any money selling BBQ, but made a lot of money selling the pot. You should look into it.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Doggcow View Post
I don't know much about the business, but I wouldn't be investing in much of anything right now.
The first part of that sentence sums things up nicely In reality I can't think of a more favorable time to be getting into business. Hell I started my latest venture in July of 2008 (anyone remember september?). We're profitable and are growing really quickly.

There is never a bad time to get into business, particularly when overall economic conditions continue to improve really steadily.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worm View Post
I would imagine that revenue projections from a business like this are all over the map because they are directly related to how hard\when you work....which has a wide margin of variability.

I love the whole food truck thing. In fact, New Orleans is far behind the curve in this area and you could do very well here with one. However, the market segment you seem to be targeting is less of the day-to-day lunch crowd and more of the specialty events.

I would project with that business model that you will be busy Fri-Sun and slow as hell the rest of the days unless your contract work for lunchtime is exceptional. Can you really generate enough revenue with just that limited schedule? I would not put you on a 200k\year revenue stream with this business model.

Now a business that lets you hit the every day lunch crowd without a specific contract and then work specialty events on the weekend would be interesting. I think the trend is definitely still moving up for mobile food. The roach coach stigma has been replaced with a coolness factor. Something like the Red Hook Lobster Pound in your area I bet can pull in that type of revenue.



- Go high end with the food.
- Give the food a coolness factor.
- Make sure your partners are putting in the time it will take to be out there every day.
- Use social media.
- Consider alternative revenue streams like a line of bbq sauces, branding apparel et al.
I pulled a hammy reaching for a Lucky Dog stand. (-:
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:00 PM   #15
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I'd definitely talk to someone who is in the business. You can certainly make good money at it, but I really think it depends on a lot of variables.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:08 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by enjolras View Post
The first part of that sentence sums things up nicely In reality I can't think of a more favorable time to be getting into business. Hell I started my latest venture in July of 2008 (anyone remember september?). We're profitable and are growing really quickly.

There is never a bad time to get into business, particularly when overall economic conditions continue to improve really steadily.
Eh, take it as you will. I live in a small college town, essentially insulated from the economy (as all the students have federal money and mom&dad money) and I've watched almost all of the new businesses fail. They have been primarily restaurants as well, people just aren't paying top dollar for food anymore.

And to Rhymes,I'd be more worried about buy low, sell lower.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:17 PM   #17
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The #1 thing I think you'll be worrying about (other than quality of food) will be advertising.

So that's probably going to be a lot more financially to start up, than just getting in.

Figure out how much it would cost to run an ad in the Sunday/Monday papers come football time (Since I assume you'll be marketing to tailgaters) or a billboard on the freeway, etc. What will the advertising cost to HIT HARD for about a month and really get your name out there?

Also, coupons. People LOVE coupons, how about a gimmick like "After a Broncos win, Ribs 50% off!" or something too. You might even want to budget 60-80% food cost for the first few months to establish yourself, maybe even taking losses.

Or you could call your self Fat Ho BBQ.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:26 PM   #18
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I helped some friends who own a "stand" if you will similiar to that....They do not have a physical space, but whenever there is a show...Taste of colorado, boulder boulder, the food festival etc etc etc...They are there..


I helped them out once at a show in golden..forgot what it was for but we were there all day on sat and sunday......They sold-different types of grilled/bbqd meats-for around $5 a piece. Some exotic was around $7....

Anyway we walked away from those two days with $8,000....Not bad for two days work. (that is total profit)- obviously, paying me and the other peeps who set it up and cooked for him etc came out of that 8k...So that is my experience.

He did it right though. He had a clever name targeted towards teen/college age and we had these hats we had to wear...:facepalm: they were bad. Think giant penis on a bun- on your head...But it worked. People came for the name and the hats. then we convinced them to buy.




Still if you do 8k a weekend and there are 10 shows a year, that is 80k... So perhaps it can work. But you still have cost of food/supplies etc etc but I am sure you already know that. I do not know his full P/L spreadsheet as I just ran it that weekend and counted the cash.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:31 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doggcow View Post
The #1 thing I think you'll be worrying about (other than quality of food) will be advertising.

So that's probably going to be a lot more financially to start up, than just getting in.

Figure out how much it would cost to run an ad in the Sunday/Monday papers come football time (Since I assume you'll be marketing to tailgaters) or a billboard on the freeway, etc. What will the advertising cost to HIT HARD for about a month and really get your name out there?

Also, coupons. People LOVE coupons, how about a gimmick like "After a Broncos win, Ribs 50% off!" or something too. You might even want to budget 60-80% food cost for the first few months to establish yourself, maybe even taking losses.

Or you could call your self Fat Ho BBQ.





I think he could get around that just fine. If he is meals on wheels then he does not have to advertise. He can just follow the masses....Outside redrocks concerts. Fiddlers, outside football games, baseball games, night clubs etc etc.



People are always hungry after shows, clubs, etc etc on their way home what have you....Target college age imo, or close to it. They are more frugal with their cash. Plus they go to more concerts etc and they are the word of mouth kings. Set up a website- so they can track you, while you track venues around town. Of course you can advertise but I think you might be able to get around it....then make sure to hit up the taste of colorado or whatever food venue things your state offers.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:42 PM   #20
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The rig is 12' long, not sure about the grill or pit, maybe half that, and all the cold storage, water, etc is on board. Its an open air thing and would need some kind of awning/cover so that's the only other expense, and the guy who built this could probably do that part. The cooks (2) are both excellent and I'm satisfied on the other questions. Mainly I'm wondering if it's worth the time commitment to plug into the business management side...I won't be cooking. Time is more precious than money to me since I'm putting in alot of time on my primary business already. It sounds like the market will bear enough different options to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Have any of you actually ever been in this biz though? I'm looking for someone who has some knowledge on the probable profit margins since that's how I'd decide this. If it's low I'lll probably pass but it sounds encouraging at this point.
Unless your primary business has no growth potential, why spend your time for 1/3 of the profit, when the same additional time on your own business gets you not only 100% of any additional profit but also 100% of any increased equity.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:00 PM   #21
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...Time is more precious than money to me since I'm putting in alot of time on my primary business already. It sounds like the market will bear enough different options to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Have any of you actually ever been in this biz though? I'm looking for someone who has some knowledge on the probable profit margins since that's how I'd decide this. If it's low I'lll probably pass but it sounds encouraging at this point.
Under those circumstances, I'd pass. Specialty mobile food service have two sources of sales; catering and events, but a set-up that size is only suited for the first. Events draw the highest sales to improve profit margin and name recognition (very dependant on quality). Without that, margins will be slim and you'll have to spend alot of time doing legwork or advertising to be competitive for catering.

If you're interested in the concept, you should probably look to something twice the size (Goldilocks) that's not too large for catering, but big enough to draw a crowd and crank out grub at events. Extra room for storage, an expanded menu and drinks/chips will increase profit margin while bringing the name recognition that will have parties coming to you for catering.

$0.02
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:19 PM   #22
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All this is interesting, but back to the main question...anyone in here ever owned or worked for someone who had this kind of business? I could fit this into what I already do without much problem, but I will only do so if it can be done with a minimum of headaches.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:33 PM   #23
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All this is interesting, but back to the main question...anyone in here ever owned or worked for someone who had this kind of business? I could fit this into what I already do without much problem, but I will only do so if it can be done with a minimum of headaches.

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Old 03-29-2011, 06:50 PM   #24
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Sounds like you need to do one of three things:

1. Get a business plan and pro forma from the primary manager of this thing; or

2. Keep asking random losers like us on the internet for very specific answers; or

3. Paint a big picture of Tebow on it for the win!
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:52 PM   #25
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TEBOW-Q!
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