Author Topic: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do  (Read 386 times)

zoochadookdook

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BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« on: November 24, 2021, 12:04:31 PM »
Hi all-

I've been cooking since covid started and have developed more than a hobby mentality towards it.

Essentially I'd like to serve food at market pop ups around the city. These occur on weekends. The price is about $40 per booth area.

Use a wsm 22Ē  plus my 18/18/14 if required. I also have several weber kettles I was thinking about doing chicken thighs on.
Iím able to cook on premise and avoid a lot of standard licensing past having obviously the base health code standards for washing stations/etc etc. this is great but limits the time I can spend actually producing items.

You generally have 2-3 hours to setup so Iíd need to get unloaded and cooking quick - unless I could get some sort of by law in terms of heating precooked vacuum sealed or similar up to 160 at the event or even precook/finish there. It may work out like that but if not I'll stick to quicker items.

So far I've got a copy of the San Antonio health code and have procurred most of what's required - 3 wash basins for dishes/hadwashing station/2 6 ft tables/a cover canopy etc. I still have some things I need to figure out in terms of a business model and below they are going to written out (in no particular order).

1) Menu. I think i'm going to offer 2 types of sandwhiches to start. I will also offer a smoked sausage in a tortilla. The smoker is going to be more for show/smell than actual cooking on site and sausages/turkey/chicken/pork tenderloins all fall in that catagory. I may need a small blackstone or similar eventually but to start I'm thinking around $10/sandwhich plus an optional add on scoop of coleslaw ($1 nice upsell) and a potential bag of chips/water or soda for a few bucks. Each sandwhich will have 4-5oz of meat on it which is a nice margin per pound of meet - plus buns in bulk from costco (I was going to do sliders but then people split them) and maybe sauce/onions/pickles. This keeps it nice and basic prep/cook/easy out the window time (especially as it's me being 1 person. I also have a big old propane single jet burner and a big pot - potentially could do a chili/stew that would be easy (throw everything in and simmer/smoker some ground beef/sausage/whatever for an hour and toss it in to cook quick).

Costs per plate/food (I will update this post at some point whilst I evolve and learn this model):

-Chips - .27c/bag (54 bags @ $15 costco)
-Meat 1 - TBD/per pound/yeild
-Meat 2 - TBD
-Buns - TBD
-Containers/serving plates/silverware/foil for warmth - TBD -
-Coleslaw - TBD per pound/breakdown cost per 4-5oz serving
-Water - .09c/water (40 @ $3.50 costco)/ .25c/sparkling water (24 @ $6 costco)
-Pop - TBD

Pricing(?)
Sandwhich (2 types) $9-10 (cost is bun/box/meat/charcoal etc whatever/meat - will math it out)
chips/water- $1.50 apiece or $2 added together to any menu item
Sausage in a tortilla ($6-8 - may add some cheese/sauce) - good sausage aint cheap
Chili....? $5-6/cup (need to price this out in bulk ALL ingredients) This actually would be quick and easy to do - could smoke meats for an hour and toss them in the simmering pot to finish - just scoop in a cup to serve!)

Any suggestions in the actual food/menu/how to ease this in? I'm posting on bbq forums and pages and calling a friend who owns a successful truck this afternoon so I'm searching far and wide


2)I need to get a CC Payment system. I don't have a POS system. I was going to set up a business card/placcard that would have a payment option QR code to my zelle/venmo/cashapp as well as my instagram and possibly linkedin - but I need a credit card processing system as well. I'm thinking for ease of use just getting a square reader short term for $50 + .10c/2.68% transaction fees.
 
3) Financial tracking (income/expenses etc). I'm looking for a decent tracking software. I've used Mint in the past but it seems to be a bit messy in other areas. Currently looking at bixexpense/expensify etc. Anyone have a easy to use software that also plays well with exporting to csv and maybe contains an easy receipt tracking app? I plan on opening a separate bank account for this so it won't be as messy as my personal finances.

4) Actual food/materials questions. The biggest thing I'm struggling with is how to keep food warm/serving on arrival. I'm between using a cooler/some kind of warming trays etc- the biggest thing is it needs to be kept at safe temps for extended periods of time and it will be colder coming up. Aside from that I'm wondering how many cutting boards/other little things I should get as far as ease of operation. A food scale for portioning would be nice. Several scoops in case I don't have time to sanitize in rush orders. Seperate containers for condiments. Disposable or easily washable table covers. String lights for when darkness hits. etc. My current inventory and costs are below:

2x6ft tables -$100 1x4ft table $30 - $130
10X10 canopy (blank) - $100
smoker - owned
 45qt cooler - $50
several small coleman stacker coolers - $40
bleach/soap $20 (bought in bulk via costco)
vaccum sealer (thought I could cook before and reheat or seal leftovers and freeze) -$80
dehydrator $25 (craigslist wooo)
smoker (already owned) - $300
charcoal (ongoing cost) - about 6 bucks to run it low all day - just for smells
lots of kitchen stuff - some serving plastic containers etc.

what I may need

small deli slicer (smoked roast beef/turkey etc)
food scale (portion control)
more storage containers that fit to a cooler or a on counter warmer.
several thermometers to make sure my warming solution is working (oven)
several larger cutting boards
nitrile gloves
seperate cutlery
condiment containers
a folding dolly for easier hauling/movement
table covers
more advertising media (business cards/contact info applied to the canopy etc)
To file my llc papers (doing today)


Iíd be a one man operation and have a tiny hatchback but I love cooking. Any insight or advice is much appreciated!
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 12:23:19 PM by zoochadookdook »

Frankies Girl

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2021, 04:04:38 PM »
I only know a bit about this due to a friend that had a food truck many years ago, and a friend that sold baked goods from their home based business.

Make real sure you're not going to run into any issues selling foods that must be held at safe temperatures. I know that there are different licenses for food sold from a home-based prep (Cottage Food industry) versus a prepared on site food sales. You'd likely need to ask a person that has a food truck what they had to get checked/permitted if you're doing stuff on site if you want to be totally safe and legal anyway.

If you're cooking things at home and then bringing them to sell, I do know that falls into the cottage food law realm, and Texas forbids any foods that require temperature control (must be kept cold/hot) in order to not spoil. They also completely forbid any food that contain meat due to the FDA standards. So canned/preserved stuff (mostly), shelf stable baked goods, etc are fine, but home made drinks, cooked meats, cheese, lasagna, salads... are a no go.

https://texascottagefoodlaw.com/cottage-food-checklist/




But what you're proposing is more complicated since it's food prepped on site, so you seem to need an inspection and mobile food vendor permit for cooked and/or assembled foods. The phone number provided on the site may help to figure out any other things you need to do. Definitely will need to get inspected, and get a permit too, and that's in addition to all the other stuff you've mentioned. And I'm not sure how your doing it from a personal vehicle - not a food truck or dedicated trailer - works legally? Definitely would need to get more details from them.

https://www.sanantonio.gov/Health/Reference/Fees

Mobile Food Vendors must call 210.207.8853 or 210.207.0135 to schedule a mobile unit inspection.
Mobile food permits for openly handled potentially hazardous food: $309.00
A permit for the sale of approved openly handled potentially hazardous food from a pushcart, from a vehicle, or from a trailer.

zoochadookdook

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2021, 05:37:15 PM »
I only know a bit about this due to a friend that had a food truck many years ago, and a friend that sold baked goods from their home based business.

Make real sure you're not going to run into any issues selling foods that must be held at safe temperatures. I know that there are different licenses for food sold from a home-based prep (Cottage Food industry) versus a prepared on site food sales. You'd likely need to ask a person that has a food truck what they had to get checked/permitted if you're doing stuff on site if you want to be totally safe and legal anyway.

If you're cooking things at home and then bringing them to sell, I do know that falls into the cottage food law realm, and Texas forbids any foods that require temperature control (must be kept cold/hot) in order to not spoil. They also completely forbid any food that contain meat due to the FDA standards. So canned/preserved stuff (mostly), shelf stable baked goods, etc are fine, but home made drinks, cooked meats, cheese, lasagna, salads... are a no go.

https://texascottagefoodlaw.com/cottage-food-checklist/




But what you're proposing is more complicated since it's food prepped on site, so you seem to need an inspection and mobile food vendor permit for cooked and/or assembled foods. The phone number provided on the site may help to figure out any other things you need to do. Definitely will need to get inspected, and get a permit too, and that's in addition to all the other stuff you've mentioned. And I'm not sure how your doing it from a personal vehicle - not a food truck or dedicated trailer - works legally? Definitely would need to get more details from them.

https://www.sanantonio.gov/Health/Reference/Fees

Mobile Food Vendors must call 210.207.8853 or 210.207.0135 to schedule a mobile unit inspection.
Mobile food permits for openly handled potentially hazardous food: $309.00
A permit for the sale of approved openly handled potentially hazardous food from a pushcart, from a vehicle, or from a trailer.


So yes and no to a lot of this.

You're correct in terms of licensing and in regards to cottage law what is and isn't allowed HOWEVER the way I'm trying to get around having an actual mobile kitchen (inspected) is by cooking on site - which is allowed if you follow the guidelines. There's loose wording and interpretations and I need to know if my market holds a license that allows food prepped on site (albeit has to be help to temps/sanitation stations, etc etc etc) but overall that's sort of the loophole and model I'm trying to go for here.

It presents many challenges but much less overhead vs an entire freaking kitchen - I'll send more on it tonight as I'm currently driving.

https://www.dshs.texas.gov/foodestablishments/permitting.aspx#no-permit - the section of a temporary or a Pop up establishment here is what I've been trying to get nailed down.

Thank you!

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2021, 07:44:10 AM »
Iíd be a one man operation and have a tiny hatchback but I love cooking. Any insight or advice is much appreciated!

Just so you know... for 2021, the IRS will pick up 70% of the payroll you pay in Q3 or Q4 to any nonfamily member as wages if you're starting a new business.

Probably not applicable. I know that. But you at least want to know that if you did hire someone and ended up paying them, for example, $5K, IRS would chip in $3500.

GoConfidently

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2021, 10:46:13 AM »
Are you from Texas? Some of the things you wrote led me to believe that you may not understand BBQ culture very well in the hill country area. I think you should spend a lot of  time attending events with food vendors and watching what people buy to develop a menu that will attract customers.

Also think about how youíll process payment as a one man operation between food prep. I wouldnít buy food from a vendor that handled money or a shared touch screen without removing/changing gloves.

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2021, 12:49:46 PM »
This is way down the list, but when you're ready, it might be worth a trip to Costco. For sure you can get high quality folding tables and related stuff for less than you've budgeted. If you ever get to Houston, the Costco Business center might be a gold mine.

Also there are auction houses that specialize in selling materials from defunct restaurants. Once you figure out the menu and licensing details, one thing to keep in mind is spending as little as possible to get durable supplies. Developing a theme to make you memorable doesn't hurt either.

Back in the early 2000's, a woman used to work at Chez Panisse. Her nickname was Betty and she longed to start a bakery business. In the beginning, she baked all night, then sold her wares at a farmer's market. Desperate for easily portable, sturdy tables to display her wares on the cheap, she hit on the idea of using ironing boards. She also wore a blue wig so people would remember her. Eventually, there were a number of blue wigged, ruffled aproned "Bettys" selling baked goods piled high on ironing boards at several Bay Area farmer's markets. Ultimately, the business morphed a bit and she now owns a single restaurant, serving a signature chicken sandwich that was an unexpected hit, buoyed by social media reviews. The restaurant is called "Bakesale Betty".


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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2021, 03:52:23 PM »
The Popup Business School (rebranded to be the TheRebelSchool.com) did an article on how someone started up a brick and mortar restaurant for 200 pounds (they're UK based).    The full approach the person used wouldn't work for everyone but there are a host of good ideas in it to keep costs down or predictable.  You might be able to adapt some of them to your circumstances.

Here's a synopsis of the basic premises to follow when starting any business:

https://therebelschool.com/how-to-start-without-spending-money/

Haven't found their article about this specific example again, but their site is worth reading.   Gobs of good thinking in it.

Here's a Mad Fientist interview with them.  https://www.madfientist.com/popup-business-school-interview/


zoochadookdook

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #7 on: Today at 08:57:54 AM »
Are you from Texas? Some of the things you wrote led me to believe that you may not understand BBQ culture very well in the hill country area. I think you should spend a lot of  time attending events with food vendors and watching what people buy to develop a menu that will attract customers.

Also think about how youíll process payment as a one man operation between food prep. I wouldnít buy food from a vendor that handled money or a shared touch screen without removing/changing gloves.

Been here 2 years - done many private catering events with items such as brisket/beef ribs/pulled pork etc. The issue is the cooking ON SITE which leads to a lot of standard menu choices going out the window. I won't be in hill country (although that'd be cool) but in the inner city markets :). I actually set up last weekend and sold dehydrated dog treats and made a few bucks which was cool but there is a MASSIVE lack of food vendors (due to the setup stipulations).

Also absolutely - that's a great point. I've got a acemart sized box of gloves and plan on having a sign made with my venmo/cashapp/zelle and square menu available so I can receive payment with none of that contact. Ideally my items will be foiled and in a heated tray (think buccees) which requires no contact past the initial packing.

zoochadookdook

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #8 on: Today at 08:58:35 AM »
Iíd be a one man operation and have a tiny hatchback but I love cooking. Any insight or advice is much appreciated!

Just so you know... for 2021, the IRS will pick up 70% of the payroll you pay in Q3 or Q4 to any nonfamily member as wages if you're starting a new business.

Probably not applicable. I know that. But you at least want to know that if you did hire someone and ended up paying them, for example, $5K, IRS would chip in $3500.

This is super helpful - do you have the source to this? If this is the case I'll absolutely hire a few!

zoochadookdook

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #9 on: Today at 09:00:31 AM »
This is way down the list, but when you're ready, it might be worth a trip to Costco. For sure you can get high quality folding tables and related stuff for less than you've budgeted. If you ever get to Houston, the Costco Business center might be a gold mine.

Also there are auction houses that specialize in selling materials from defunct restaurants. Once you figure out the menu and licensing details, one thing to keep in mind is spending as little as possible to get durable supplies. Developing a theme to make you memorable doesn't hurt either.

Back in the early 2000's, a woman used to work at Chez Panisse. Her nickname was Betty and she longed to start a bakery business. In the beginning, she baked all night, then sold her wares at a farmer's market. Desperate for easily portable, sturdy tables to display her wares on the cheap, she hit on the idea of using ironing boards. She also wore a blue wig so people would remember her. Eventually, there were a number of blue wigged, ruffled aproned "Bettys" selling baked goods piled high on ironing boards at several Bay Area farmer's markets. Ultimately, the business morphed a bit and she now owns a single restaurant, serving a signature chicken sandwich that was an unexpected hit, buoyed by social media reviews. The restaurant is called "Bakesale Betty".

Heyo! Costco by me only had 4 ft tables so I ate the walmart 44$ ones (although 5% back chase freedom this quarter drove it down a bit!). I get my aluminum pans/bleach etc from there though as it's by far the cheapest. I also get my waters/sodas (sale) there. I've been to houston a few times and may have to make the trip back.

Thank you so much for this example - it's about finding what works and riding with it.

zoochadookdook

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #10 on: Today at 09:36:11 AM »
Update:

Last weekend I set up and did a booth selling dehyrated dog treats. I learned a few things and took away a laundry list of things to do before this sunday (first food event hopefully).

1) I need help - I'll be hiring at least one (2 people). These are semi busy events and I can only have my hand in so many places.

2) I have more to do - specifically the following

*Business cards with contact info - I had a ton of people ask for my card/which event I'd be serving at/how to contact me - etc!

*A qr/payment system that's quicker than contact - I got a square pay reader but it requires me to handle my phone to turn it on and accept payment. If I have gloves on this requires extra time. I can set up a QR code with a square menu they can pay - but that may take time for the weekend. I'm thinking at least a sign with a venmo/zelle/cashapp qr and  one of us cooking/food handling/the other taking payments by hand (cash etc) when required.

*More branding/signs/etc. I need to be seen things like a little a frame sign up front with the menu/a few logo's etc will make that 200000x easier.

*Figure out a quick menu - I'm thinking chicken/quarters/smoked sliders and anything else that can be done in 2 hours (turkey legs/sausage on a stick in a tortilla etc). Sides will be limited (white bread/chips/pickles/onions/sauce). I may do one item like a smoked cream cheese or queso with chips (super easy). Tacos would be easy on a blackstone or similar as well!

*Figure out a easy holding method (I have 1 electric holding full pan container but may need 2/3)

*Figure out a quick way to prep and hold the items for easier out the counter service. I'm thinking pre wrapping tacos/sandwhiches/sausages in foil in the warmers and just handing them over after payment.

*A way to move my larger cabinet smoker. It has wheels on it and i believe putting larger ones on it/using a ramp trailer we could light it - push it on the trailer - roll it off on site and throw food on asap. I was going to use a bullet style smoker but honestly they take time to get to temp and capacity is an issue I don't think I have time to deal with right now.

All said and done i'm going crazy here but I plan on running something this sunday!

GoConfidently

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Re: BBQ Pop up side hustle - many many many things to do
« Reply #11 on: Today at 07:37:01 PM »
Are you from Texas? Some of the things you wrote led me to believe that you may not understand BBQ culture very well in the hill country area. I think you should spend a lot of  time attending events with food vendors and watching what people buy to develop a menu that will attract customers.

Also think about how youíll process payment as a one man operation between food prep. I wouldnít buy food from a vendor that handled money or a shared touch screen without removing/changing gloves.

Been here 2 years - done many private catering events with items such as brisket/beef ribs/pulled pork etc. The issue is the cooking ON SITE which leads to a lot of standard menu choices going out the window. I won't be in hill country (although that'd be cool) but in the inner city markets :). I actually set up last weekend and sold dehydrated dog treats and made a few bucks which was cool but there is a MASSIVE lack of food vendors (due to the setup stipulations).

Also absolutely - that's a great point. I've got a acemart sized box of gloves and plan on having a sign made with my venmo/cashapp/zelle and square menu available so I can receive payment with none of that contact. Ideally my items will be foiled and in a heated tray (think buccees) which requires no contact past the initial packing.

My original advice still stands - you need to visit lots of regional markets and see what people are buying to develop a menu. Private catering  is a whole different ball game. People have limited/no choice at a private catered event. Youíre competing with other vendors AND restaurant in the inner city. I admire your enthusiasm, but your ideas are all over the place. It does no good to dive into branding if you donít know who you are as a vendor. Youíve written about everything from tacos to coleslaw.

The bigger issue is that youíve been in the area for only two years. Youíre in a city that is known for having excellent Tex-Mex. if you canít make killer tacos with great salsa, people will walk right past you and go eat at one of hundreds of other establishments. And youíre in a region with excellent German food. So if your sausage isnít killer, people will go to the nearest beer garden to get a bratwurst. And the BBQ scene in the region is amazing, so why not just wait and eat BBQ at that joint recommended by Texas Monthly instead? My point is that you donít have an identity and you have a lot of competition.

And while technically only the northern part of San Antonio is considered proper hill country, itís generally lumped into the description. Anyone who isnít there as a newcomer or just passing through knows that you can drive thirty minutes and be out of the inner city and find a great bbq joint or beer hall or taco place.

ETA - I say this to be constructive not negative. Food service has a tight profit margin in the best of situations and youíre already talking about hiring employees and investing in equipment with zero experience in this market. If you have money to burn and just think it will be fun, jump all in. But if you want returning customers or to make a profit, you need to work on the food/menu and nail down an identity and make sure youíre competitive.
« Last Edit: Today at 07:42:31 PM by GoConfidently »