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taking a chance, and have lots of questions!
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ceedubya
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Joined: 12 May 2006
Posts: 669
Location: Helena, MT

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 10:25 am    Post subject: taking a chance, and have lots of questions! Reply with quote

After a couple of years of being miserable in my current employment situation and things only continuing to look worse, the wife and I had a long heart to heart. I found a small place that would be perfect for a little BBQ stand, and started putting a plan together. The building is small, 20'x20', and would need a fenced in covered area in the back for the smoker (this has all been cleared by the HD and the FD).

The beauty of it all is the location:

1. next door to a brewery with a huge taproom (tasting room). They have live music on stage, and gather a large regular crowd, but have no food onsite other than popcorn and peanuts. I have already talked to the owner and he is excited about the prospect. We discussed installing a text to order system for his customers and scheduled food dropoffs. The tap room is open from 2PM til 8PM daily. I have a meeting with him next week to continue discussions.

2. A large high school with an open campus lunch policy is .3 miles away, but on the opposite side of the road. I would be closest food available to the school and would plan some sort of bag lunch. Again, I can see the text to order system helping here.

3. within 1 mile of the state capitol complex. I work with a lot of the different departments with my current job, and there are a lot of drop off catering possbibilities every day. Could also see the potential for a lot of family dinner pickups after 5:00.

3. It is on the main street in town, close to one of the busiest intersections in town. I have looked at the dept of transportation traffic counts, and other than about 2 or 3 other areas, this is one of the busiest spots in town.

4. Next to the railroad tracks. I know this sounds bad, but remember that busy street I mentioned? The trains stop traffic and back them up in front of the this location about 6 times a day, where they would have nothing to do but look at us and smell that delicious bbq........

Now some Cons to the location:
1. No other restaruants in the immediate area. This sounds good, but I would have to assume that the food places are bunched together in different areas for a reason? There is a brick oven pizza joint close that does pretty decent.

2. Next to the railroad tracks, enough said.

3. I would want to capture a lot of the traffice headed south on thier way home at night. It is on the west side of the street. Crossing traffic, and getting back out can be a hassle.

And now onto the questons! I am putting together a 3 year business plan, and there are a lot of unknowns from my end. I know there are recourses available, but I also want to talk to some of you who are in it.

1. How to figure monthly costs: food, gas, elec, etc. Sounds simple, but I know I would forget something

2. figuring how many daily sales I would need to be profitable compared to these costs. with the math I have run, I would need somewhere around 30 $10.00 sales per day (@ 7 days a week) to be profitable. doesn't sound like much, until you are the one sitting there waiting for those 30 sales.

4. Equipment, also enough said. I have priced the cooker I want (ole hickory) and sinks, fridge, etc. any input would be appreciated.

5. Mcls. any other advice you may have (like "don't do it you idiot!")
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ceedubya
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Joined: 12 May 2006
Posts: 669
Location: Helena, MT

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little more info for you to ponder:

I have already talked to the HD and am signed up for the full serve safe class, as well as the person who will be working with me. Spoke to the FD, the city planning, the local small business development group and am taking a three course class from them as well.

I have a friend who has a lot of restaraunt experience, her and her husband own thier own landscaping business, and she is capable and experienced handling the day to day accounting, payroll, quarterlies, etc. She has signed on to help run the day to day and some of the other responsibilities. She is in a unique position in that she doesn't necessarily need to work, but wants to be doing something. the plan here is to keep the service overhead very low, think deli style. pick it up and go.

I have another business (saturdays and some weeknights) that helps pay my bills, so I would not be relying soley on this.

gotta run pick up the kid from dance, but will think of more and add it later.

thanks for looking!!
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Curtis
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My best wishes.
I too, have been sick of my job. Started researching catering, food trucks, and concession trailers last week. Getting signed up for food manager cert this week.
I'm thinking of the catering/concession route. That will work better with my available start up funds.
It is awesome day dreaming about cooking awesome Q for people instead of resetting computer passwords for employees who can't remember what they set it to.

Keep me updated!
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Oregon smoker
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like some good factors to get you through the initial opening. What i would be concerned with is the coming winter months. It can either be good or bad, considering your location.
Good luck!
Beer drinkers, or rather craft beer drinkers will pick your stuff apart.
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ceedubya
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Location: Helena, MT

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Curtis wrote:
My best wishes.
I too, have been sick of my job. Started researching catering, food trucks, and concession trailers last week. Getting signed up for food manager cert this week.
I'm thinking of the catering/concession route. That will work better with my available start up funds.
It is awesome day dreaming about cooking awesome Q for people instead of resetting computer passwords for employees who can't remember what they set it to.

Keep me updated!


I hear ya, its starting to wear me down. I have been kicking around the food truck route as well, leaves a lot of open options. I think in this town, a permanent location is the best option.


Oregon smoker wrote:
Sounds like some good factors to get you through the initial opening. What i would be concerned with is the coming winter months. It can either be good or bad, considering your location.
Good luck!
Beer drinkers, or rather craft beer drinkers will pick your stuff apart.


to clafify, I would not open until this coming spring if all goes to plan. I think openeing a bbq joint in the winter would be suicide! But then again, most people stay close to home in the winter here, with the cold weather and short days. During the summer, they are at the lakes and camping, even during the week. I know that the tap room is pretty slow during the summer months, and packed all winter.
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ceedubya
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

a little more info about where I'm at.

Financing, obviously this is the big concern for anyone starting a business like this. I would be able to come up with a portion of the money needed, but would need the bank, uncle sam, uncle brian, freinds, family, or fools to chip in.

the owner of the tap room has serious parking issues, and this lot is HUGE! He has already indicated he would entertain leasing parking on the backside of the lot, helping me pay the bills.

I have approached a few local service trucks that would love the opportunity to park here: coffee & smoothies, shaved ice, etc. Not sure this is a good idea though, perhaps competing against myself for some of my higher margin items (beverages)?? But, maybe the money made for the space would make up for that?

There is a garage on the back corner of the lot that comes with the lease. I would use this for storage of wood and non food supplies. But, as mentioned I also own another business and pay rent for storage of my equipment. I would transfer that to this building and pay myself the rent, further offsetting the lease burden of the bbq business.

I have good friend in a town 90 miles away that started with a very similar setup and is doing very well, Has been in business 10 plus years. He has agreed to come on as a consultant. Also have plans to attend a class from Mike & Amy Mills OnCue Consulting. Probably can't swing the october class, but am looking to April.

The property owner was very excited about having this type of business there. He owns the lot next door and the service station on it and the tire shop across the side street. 20 plus employees close for lunch. He had originally agreed to look at some improvements to the propery: the fence, roof, concrete finish on the floor, paint, etc. The amount of improvements woudl be proportional to the length of lease I agreed to. Got some bad news here today, he has someone else looking at the property that would move in quickly and require no improvements. At this point, if they are ready to go he is going with them.

This is a major reason for being able to show a comprehensive business plan with a 3 year projection. He has had at least 4 businesses in this place in as many years, and it has sat empty for months each time they leave. Now these businesses have been used car lots and the like, not much draw in this area. There have been 2 other used lots around the corner that suffered similar fates. I have asked him to give me an opportunity to talk before he makes any decisions.

I will post a few pictures in a few, need to get them off the phone.
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daddywoofdawg
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you go for it,talk to the snowmobile clubs come up with some monthly doing's at you place.word of mouth is always good.
One thing you may not of thought of and I as a neighbor (ND)Something I think about every winter is snow removal,who is going to do it,if you how long will it take,and will you be up for it AND cook all day.if you are going to hire it out,How much.
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ceedubya
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Location: Helena, MT

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

daddywoofdawg wrote:
If you go for it,talk to the snowmobile clubs come up with some monthly doing's at you place.word of mouth is always good.
One thing you may not of thought of and I as a neighbor (ND)Something I think about every winter is snow removal,who is going to do it,if you how long will it take,and will you be up for it AND cook all day.if you are going to hire it out,How much.


Excellent Point! I have some freinds who lanscape in the summer, snow removal in the winter. I will investigate pricing. Will also get pricing from the owners guy, he gets his done so he has to use somebody.
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ceedubya
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

and finally, some pictures!

I hope I am sizing these right I still havn't figured out the whole photobucket thing exactly.....

Southeast corner of the building, looking to the northwest. You can see the lighted sign in the front. This is the view from the street. the brewery / tap room is the big white building in the background. You can also see the railroad tracks to the north


Northeast corner of the building, looking to the southwest you can see the oil service station next door. debating on puting in a drive through window or just a pick up window and use the existing patio area in the future for some picnic tables and making an outdoor eating area. The door will enter into a small order / picku area inside the building.


Northwest corner of the building looking towards the southwest. You can see the tire shop across the street, the building next door with the awning is a flooring shop.

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Last edited by ceedubya on Thu Sep 13 12 1:31 pm; edited 4 times in total
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ceedubya
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

southwest corner looking to the northwest. The garage is in the back corner of the lot.


Garage / Storage with the rest of the brewery in the background


the back of the lot looking towards the brewery / tap room. behind the fence is a patio area and the back door into the tap room.


backside of the building looking towards the street. Glass repair shop across the street. would build a 20' x 15' fenced area with a roof above it for the smoker. The large window will become either a door or a passthrough into the kitchen / serving area.

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SoEzzy
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Joined: 13 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey ceedubya long time no see.

Please read PMPNLT650pxOTLS! check out the 9th post it explains about upload settings for photobucket.

I changed these ones for you!

Looking good cal, I think it's nice they built you a brewery right next door, and with a tap room there too.

Have to get your wife to pick you up and drop you off, as your designated driver! Wink
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ceedubya
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Location: Helena, MT

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoEzzy wrote:
Hey ceedubya long time no see.

Please read PMPNLT650pxOTLS! check out the 9th post it explains about upload settings for photobucket.

I changed these ones for you!

Looking good cal, I think it's nice they built you a brewery right next door, and with a tap room there too.

Have to get your wife to pick you up and drop you off, as your designated driver! Wink


Thanks for fixing those up EZ!

Will definitely need to be careful not to blow the profits at the brewery!
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rubbbq
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13 12 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats!!

i know you're just brainstorming, but I'll give you some feedback on letting other food service trucks park on your lot - DON'T!

There isn't enough money in food to split, I've seen many try and fail at this. It seems like a win-win, they can sell food and they pay you a small fee...however, if they're busier than you - it won't seem fair to you (and they don't make enough $$ to give you any real income). And, obviously, if they don't make any sales they won't be there for long. Managing expectations on both sides will be difficult, and you want to focus on your business - not worry about the business of others/partnerships..

Keep your eyes on the prize, find ways to make YOUR sales. I love the creativity in coming up with other ways to ease the overhead burden - but use this creativity to come up catering/off-site plans to supplement the restaurant sales.

We pay all our bills "out the back door". I want to know that my restaurant overhead is paid whether or not a single customer walks in the front door. Catering, festivals, BBQ classes, corporate catering, etc. We do it all. It took awhile to get some of it going, and in the beginning you'll be learning to run your day-to-day, but come up with ways to pay that overhead other than normal (unpredictable) walk-in business and you'll be a success.

To give credit where credit is due, I learned the "pay your bills out the back door" theory from Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway. They teach all their franchisees to come up with a solid business plan to pay their overhead "out the back door". You are in control of that plan, and you can rely on it being consistent if you set it up properly. Everything that comes in the front door is your profit, and the fluctuation of sales, especially in the beginning, won't be as stressful.

Set up your cooker a few times in the parking lot of the brewery and see how well it goes over, you'll get a good idea of demand, and can do this without a large financial commitment.

Best of luck, I'll follow your thread and give advice when I can.
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ceedubya
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18 12 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rubbbq wrote:
Congrats!!

i know you're just brainstorming, but I'll give you some feedback on letting other food service trucks park on your lot - DON'T!

There isn't enough money in food to split, I've seen many try and fail at this. It seems like a win-win, they can sell food and they pay you a small fee...however, if they're busier than you - it won't seem fair to you (and they don't make enough $$ to give you any real income). And, obviously, if they don't make any sales they won't be there for long. Managing expectations on both sides will be difficult, and you want to focus on your business - not worry about the business of others/partnerships..

Keep your eyes on the prize, find ways to make YOUR sales. I love the creativity in coming up with other ways to ease the overhead burden - but use this creativity to come up catering/off-site plans to supplement the restaurant sales.

We pay all our bills "out the back door". I want to know that my restaurant overhead is paid whether or not a single customer walks in the front door. Catering, festivals, BBQ classes, corporate catering, etc. We do it all. It took awhile to get some of it going, and in the beginning you'll be learning to run your day-to-day, but come up with ways to pay that overhead other than normal (unpredictable) walk-in business and you'll be a success.

To give credit where credit is due, I learned the "pay your bills out the back door" theory from Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway. They teach all their franchisees to come up with a solid business plan to pay their overhead "out the back door". You are in control of that plan, and you can rely on it being consistent if you set it up properly. Everything that comes in the front door is your profit, and the fluctuation of sales, especially in the beginning, won't be as stressful.

Set up your cooker a few times in the parking lot of the brewery and see how well it goes over, you'll get a good idea of demand, and can do this without a large financial commitment.

Best of luck, I'll follow your thread and give advice when I can.


thanks for the input!

Well, got some bad news. The owner of the building seems to have leased the property out from under me. I had asked him to give me first option if he had another interested party to which he agreed. But, when someone came along with some money who didn't need any improvements to the building, he jumped. I am assuming its a used car lot like the last 3 businesses that have failed there. He seems to be pretty short sighted, but I will call him tomorrow and see if its too late. I would at least like the chance to present my business plan to him. If not, I will continue to look for other options.

Or, I can wait 6 months for this one to fail like the last 3.

I still have a meeting with the owner of the brewery, and there is another potential option there. doesn't have all the perks of this location, but has some of its own.
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Kevan
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18 12 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The owner broke his word to you. You are better off. Could have been worse down the road.
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18 12 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If things do change, I am siding with rubbq on not welcoming competition onto your property.

Maybe this property getting leased is a blessing in disguise, IMHO this current economic climate is not the right time to start a new venture.
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Geronimo
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19 12 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with rubbbq about not letting other vendors (even though you said would NOT be food) to set up on your lot. It is NOT a carnival. People aren't going to be took keep on paying for drinks at one tent then food at another...unless it is at a carnival. Shocked

However I disagree with Harry Nutczak on his statement
"IMHO this current economic climate is not the right time to start a new venture".

New businesses (of every type) are opening daily all across the country. There is no time like the present time. If you don't follow your dream, you will (more than likely) live to regret it.

That is not to say that you should not do your diligent homework prior to opening along with having the proper funding to sustain the business during its infancy.

Good luck to you, it sounds like you have potential to gain business from other areas as well.
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rubbbq
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19 12 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do think that it's a great time to start a business...but start small. Do a couple vending weekends outside the brewery, do a profit share or a small fee with the owner. Set up inside, or outside, whatever space allows for - and see if you can get a following. This would increase the possibility of success, and get you selling your product to the general public..lots to learn from that - I did festivals and catering for 3 years before we opened, and I'm glad we did

keep the info coming, happy to help where we can
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JimH
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19 12 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prevailing wind for your location. The best advert for BBQ is the smell of wood smoke and meat. Every time I smell it I get hungry and wonder what's on the menu.
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JAllen
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19 12 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geronimo wrote:


However I disagree with Harry Nutczak on his statement
"IMHO this current economic climate is not the right time to start a new venture".

New businesses (of every type) are opening daily all across the country. There is no time like the present time. If you don't follow your dream, you will (more than likely) live to regret it.

.


Geronimo, First of all your optimism is wonderful and inspiring.

But...You have to be kidding. This is the absolute worst time in the history of the country to be opening a business. Especially a niche restaurant business like BBQ.

Businesses are FAILING all across the country.

Median income cratering. U-6 unemployment near 20%. Private and public debt skyrocketing. Student loan debt at an all-time high. Foreclosures at an all-time high.

The economic issues are structural and will not be remedied in your or my lifetime, Geronimo.

Back away from the crack pipe.
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