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Cafe to BBQ?

 
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fishtail



Joined: 05 May 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Bel Air, MD

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07 12 5:42 am    Post subject: Cafe to BBQ? Reply with quote

Greetings All!

I have been all over this site for a few years and wanted to first thank everyone for the info. 4 or 5 years ago I started catering with a Lang 84 Deluxe and after having my position cut over 2 years ago I made the somewhat unfortunate decision to buy a small cafe. I struggled for the first year plus and have lost a pretty considerable amount of money. I have now got the ship straight, but as a cafe selling strictly sandwiches, panini's, wraps and soups there is only so much money to bring in. The Monday through Friday crowd has settled in to a normal pattern and is pretty much done. We are only open until 2pm. My weekends have grown tremendously but I am about to the point where Saturday breakfast is using every bit of cooking space we have. I have now been open on Sunday for 6 weeks and it is growing as I had hoped. Anyway to make this story a little shorter, I need to expand my offerings and probably my hours to add more sales. My family can't survive off of the small amount of take home I'm pulling and to be quite honest this place is wearing me out. Breakfast and lunch doesn't look like it will ever be enough here.
The town has a loan program and it looks like I may be able to get some low interest financing so here's what has been keeping me up at night. I do not have a grease trap for starters so some of my money will be spent right off the bat. I also have extremely limited space for new equipment so no Southern Prides or Old Hickory's are in my immediate future. The best I think I can do to start is (Sorry to even say it, so be easy on me...) an electric smoker. More than likely a Cookshack SM160. I'd love to get an FE120 but it will require a hood with fire suppression and at 1K per foot it's out of my budget for now.
I had a one night BBQ event here back in the fall and did 1200 in sales with only facebook as advertising (With a special HD permit outside with my Lang). I've done lots of smoking for church events and lots of people have had my BBQ. I guess what I'm asking is if you had an established location that was just barely making money, would you add 3 nights and try to run a somewhat limited BBQ menu? The thought of more debt makes me cringe and I'm not sure if I should punt or go for it. I'm looking at 10-20K in a loan. Sorry to ramble... Anyone out there taken the leap of faith to turn the tide lately?

Thanks in advance,
JOe
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Geronimo
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07 12 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well only you can answer the question but having owning a store front business in the past, I would say NOT to take on additional debt and maybe find a job in another restaurant or somewhere where you could possibly hone your skills, feed your family and maybe save a few bucks to do your remodel needed to expand your offerings.

More people have lost everything trying to save nothing in the first place.
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07 12 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What size of town?

How much hassle for the special HD exception?

Could you do the same on a Friday and Saturday night and stay away from Sunday all together?

How much of your business is local, how much drive by, how much out of towners?

I would try and stay away from 7 days a week, especially if you are already getting tired doing 6 days.

See disclaimer below!
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Sinbinbbq
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Joined: 10 Oct 2011
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Location: Graettinger Iowa

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08 12 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took over a country club in Iowa in March.. and the menu was about what you have. I added BBQ right away and have over tripled the previous sales so far. I use a good one Chuckwagon outside of my back door for all my smoking..

Oh I am in a town of 900 people but we are now drawing from 50-60 miles away.. I say go for it.
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fishtail



Joined: 05 May 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Bel Air, MD

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19 12 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoEzzy,
I don't know the numbers on the town exactly but it's the county seat next to the district and circuit courts. I can get 3-4 exemptions per year to do BBQ outside but that's it. The under the counter grease trap I was hoping for sounds like it won't happen. The health department explained it to me in a way that I don't want it in the restaurant anyway. Sounds pretty nasty. We are already building a Sunday breakfast/lunch crowd. It's too late for me to cut it off now.

SinbinBBQ,
The health department is within throwing distance of my back door and I have to follow the rules to the letter here. The county is real tough on the regs. No outdoor cooking here. Between the grease trap and the smoker/hood and piping I'm looking at 14-16K. I'm not thrilled about using an electric smoker but if I grow out of it I'll be more than happy to expand. Are you doing breakfast/lunch or are you open for dinner?

Thanks,
JOe
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19 12 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fishtail wrote:
SoEzzy,
,
The health department is within throwing distance of my back door and I have to follow the rules to the letter here. The county is real tough on the regs. No outdoor cooking here. Between the grease trap and the smoker/hood and piping I'm looking at 14-16K. I'm not thrilled about using an electric smoker but if I grow out of it I'll be more than happy to expand. Are you doing breakfast/lunch or are you open for dinner?

Thanks,
JOe


Do the laws actually state that outdoor cooking is out of the question, or is that simply the inspectors opinion??

Because I am betting that there is no specific statute prohibiting using an outdoor pit, and if that is the case, the inspector might need to be reminded that they are tasked to enforce laws, not make them up as they go along. If they feel there should be a law to prohibit outdoor pits, he can lobby the legislature to enact a law just like everyone else is forced to.

My inspector told me "No way, No How" and I asked to see the specific statute prohibiting a pit from being outside, because my hours upon hours of research showed nothing prohibiting the practice. I even found guidelines in the federal health code that champions outside cooking because it is in this country's heritage!! If you have the proper support facilities, I am willing to bet a large chunk of change that outdoor cooking is in fact legal in your locale!! Do not be intimidated by an authoritative figure, read the laws, and know them better than your inspector.

We came to an agreement, I now see him at least once a month for lunch as a customer.
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fishtail



Joined: 05 May 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Bel Air, MD

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19 12 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry,
I believe there is just one outdoor "Pit Beef" permit in this county. They will do it but there is a ton of work and expense to go with it. I don't have any land outside to do it regaurdless. The special permit is allowing me to cook in the parking lot behind the cafe. They don't seem to make anything up here but the don't miss anything either.

Thanks,
JOe
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19 12 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where is "Here"?

Qfanatic has navigated oppressive non-written laws very well, and would be able to point you in the right direction, and if I knew your state/county, I could probably help too.
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fishtail



Joined: 05 May 2009
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Location: Bel Air, MD

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19 12 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bel Air, MD, Harford County
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20 12 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fishtail wrote:
Bel Air, MD, Harford County

Why don't you edit your profile and put your location in there?
Over 350 views with 8 answers including yours Shocked
Nobody knew anything until now.
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fishtail



Joined: 05 May 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Bel Air, MD

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20 12 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

profile updated! Thanks
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DrunkPlumber
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21 12 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fishtail, You might want to check with the Steel Horse Restaurant in Bel Air. I am almost certain they could outside on an offset of some sort. There is also a BBQ joint in Joppa (whose name escapes me). Check Steel Horses web site and you can see them cooking on the "patio" with an offset. Hope this helps.
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fishtail



Joined: 05 May 2009
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Location: Bel Air, MD

PostPosted: Thu Jun 21 12 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like the whole project is going down the toilet. The grease trap estimate came back at 11K PLUS replacing the floor and asphault. It also didn't include camera time to locate the pipe direction. Probaby in the 15K neighborhood by the time it's done. It might be time to start looking for a different location. I should have been a plumber...
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21 12 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why won't they let you use an under sink model??

Those can be had for a very reasonable cost, as long as you do not open it to clean it during restaurant hours, there is nothing wrong with them. Mine is in the basement, and I call a service to clean it annually, and I leave the building when that Pandora's box of all things nasty gets opened.

A few yeas back, I was at a place where the dish-bitch opened the trap during dinner service, not a pretty scene...
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smokin Jim
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22 12 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check this one out.
http://www.greasetrapworld.com/johnboos-plasticgreasetraps.html

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