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First BBQ vend in...
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Painless
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03 14 2:22 pm    Post subject: First BBQ vend in... Reply with quote

Hi all.
Sat just gone I did my first vend, normally nothing worth mentioning on the ring, but it was in New Zealand where we literally have no BBQ joints.
Needless to say I dint get much sleep the last week because I had no idea what to expect. I decided to keep the menu really simple and just sold chicken and pork spares and sold sodas by the can. The event runs from 5pm till 11pm. I decided to cook 55 racks and 200 chicken drums, and sold the rack by the half and chicken in pairs. Meat is quite expensive here in NZ and we don't have as much wealth so my margins are not as good as some folk I have seen here on the ring.

Here is my simple stand:


I really didn't know how this would go so I decided to just spend the minimum to get setup i.e. no branding etc.

Things went pretty good. I sold out of racks by 9:30, but only sold 10 orders of chicken. I ended up giving a fair bit away to try and get people into BBQ.

I'm pretty happy with the first night. I'm not sure if the numbers of people will be the same or more/less. I ended up paying all my expenses for the night and being able to pay myself $6 and 5kgs (11lbs) of left over chicken drums.
I told my wife that it was better than loosing $6.



To make this work i need to sell more food, and kiwi's seem to like my ribs. I'm not sure how I can cook more cause they take up so much room in the pit. I can cook about 35 racks at once and once I wrap can finish them in the warming box.
I figure I can do max around 100 racks this way. The other option is to do the initial smoke for 2 hours then put them in a oven for the final 2 hours (i do have 230v on site), while the next lot is smoking.

I'm not really sure here. I built my pit, so I could build a stainless vertical oven running of propane or similar or just buy some kind of commercial cooking/holding oven - this would probably be the best option, but I'm not sure what type model? (I know I can get a brand called alto-shaam here) I need to be able to do around 150 racks to make any reasonable return on investment.

Suggestions very welcome.
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03 14 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

$6....Ouch!
I make the least [ % wise ] off ribs than anything else, but do charge a little over double my cost! Maybe you sold out because they were soo cheap??
Raise your prices, make it worth your while, unless this is just something your doing to pass the time Shocked Very Happy
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Pkerchef
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04 14 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am like Mr. Tony I can sell buybacks for 18-20 a slab and double my money all day long. I think you sold them too cheap. Pkerchef
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Painless
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04 14 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually my margin is similar to yours, but I had to write down the losses on the chicken. I cooked 100 portions and sold 10, so that's why I basically worked for free. This week I'm loosing the chicken altogether and increasing my quantity of ribs from 55 racks to 88. If demand goes the same as last week I should walk away with some money to pay myself.
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04 14 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dont get me, or any of us wrong, I DO wish you all the best!!
Back when I did chicken legs I sold them 1 for $1.75 or 3 for$5.00, they were jumbo wings, and when my supplier could no longer get me them regularly, I stopped selling them all together Crying or Very sad I switched to smoking boneless thighs, shredding / chopping / saucing and sell as sammies, the nice part with that is, if you NEED to, you can freeze and re-heat next outing, just blend last weeks with some new with a fresh char, and most will never know the difference!! Wink Here, I cant usually find enough grill space to keep enough on hand...I mix up full size deep hotel pans at a time in my dry rub and put 10 pounds at a time on, usually keeps it pretty fresh - YMMV- but may be worth a try Question Cool
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RodinBangkok
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04 14 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a good time to do some market research on why the chicken did not sell, use that info to perhaps modify what your offering before you just drop it forever. It's something we do a lot by having tastings first to see what sells, and we always do it with a group that knows we want critical feedback not kind words. It's important for offerings that my be new to large portion of your focus audience. It becomes even more difficult then to find those items that can cross that ethnic divide within that offering. It can be as simple as a different sauce for the same prepped item, or even the portion size.
Don't sweat the $6, you learned a lot, as long as you learn from what you've done and don't do the same mistake twice, there are not stupid ideas.
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Painless
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04 14 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Tony.

I have the opportunity to pick up one of these for a reasonable price: http://products.alto-shaam.com/p-29-1000-th-i.aspx

It seems like the kind of setup I could use to finish and hold the ribs once they have been sauced and wrapped. This would also take some of the stress out of mass producing ribs especially in my pit were the temperature can be +/- 100 degrees from one part to another.

Do any of you have any experience with this method? or this oven?

I believe running things this way would solve my problem permanently as I figure I could then produce 35 racks every 2 hours and still have room in my pit for some pork butts.
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qfanatic01
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04 14 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mate,
I have 8 variations of the Alto-shaams, they are manufactured in Mr Tony's neck of the woods. I have picked a couple (demo models at discount) up at the factory and purchased the rest used on ebay or other auctions. We have 5 smoke and holds and 1 double cook and hold (like the one you listed) and 2 holding cabinets. I actually started with the smoke and holds to smoke all our meats until I was able to afford a commercial stick burner, which is necessary by code here. No homemade smokers aloud. I now use them for pulled chicken thighs and holding. You should be able to get enough smoke in the ribs in two or three hours with your stick burner and then finish with the Alto-shaam. It takes about 5 to 6 hours total at 225-250, you'll need to R&D to figure it out. Maybe start a little earlier and get a bit more smoke time. These units can hold for hours after the cook as well. I cook on sheet pans, not on the racks to control the mess. Like others said, try small amounts of different things to see what else might work. You may find that ribs are it. Great to see you giving it a go. Good luck.
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Painless
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07 14 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RodinBangkok wrote:

Don't sweat the $6, you learned a lot, as long as you learn from what you've done and don't do the same mistake twice, there are not stupid ideas.


Yup, that's how I see it. I have adjusted things based on last week and I expect to net $500+ this week. Thanks for your comments.
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Painless
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07 14 3:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

qfanatic01 wrote:
Hi Mate,
I have 8 variations of the Alto-shaams...
...Good luck.


I'm going to see how things go this Sat. If they go well I will probably pick this Alto-Shaam up. The guy wants US$1500 for it and claims it is in very good condition - which if true is a really good deal for down here.
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fish&q
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08 14 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If those ribs a full slabs you could cut them down to st louis style this will do two things for you .1 you could cook more ribs at a time and 2 you could cook the pieces you cut off and sell them for rib tip sandwiches. You can get at least two sandwiches out of each piece and it will pay for you slab of ribs 100% profit. Or you could pre cook half your ribs and reheat when your cooking on site
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Painless
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09 14 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestion fish&q.

This weekend I cooked 90 racks and no chicken.
I sold around 70 racks for full price and the 15 for cost and gave 5 away to family and close friends.

I had 2 people help me for 9 hours.
I ended up doing about 13 hours.

I covered all my expenses and had enough money to pay myself and recoup about 10% of my initial outlay to vend. At this point, given it is only our second week, I am very satisfied with the result.

I checked with some of the other vendors and many said it was a quiet night. All in all I think it went pretty well. If things continue to improve I shall look at how to make this more sustainable so that I can continue with it on an ongoing basis.

My next challenge is to make my stand work in the rain. As it is I have been lucky. The market is held in a underground parking lot, so many of the venders are undercover. With the pit on site this is not really an option. I also need better signage as I am actually on the quiet part of the market and I believe I get overlooked by many.

Thanks for all your guys help and suggestions, much appreciated.
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Last edited by Painless on Sun Feb 09 14 8:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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fish&q
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09 14 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What are you selling a rack of ribs for?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09 14 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fish&q wrote:
What are you selling a rack of ribs for?


Money! DUH! Razz Wink Laughing
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Painless
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09 14 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

$20 kiwi
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Jeff T
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12 14 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When i first started this BBQ vending thing i sold chicken legs like crazy. $1.00 each, my profit was three times cost. They sold well but after a couple of summers they quit selling. Still don't know what happened.
Ribs... when i sell them, they do sell well but the profit just isn't enough. Holding is always an issue. The longer they sit the more "fall apart" they get.
Around here ya just cant beat a sandwich... we sell pulled pork, brisket & chicken sammies. With those three meats in the warmers anyway i can also sell BBQ nacho`s and taco`s... which people flip over! Specially brisket nachos and tacos they sell out first.

A couple of other things that sells well is jumbo dill pickles on a stick, big jar of pickles in the fridge, jab on a stick & sell no prep, no cooking & kids love em! Also corn on the cob in the husk, just toss the corn on the smoker for an hour or two & let em cook. When ready to sell, leave them on the smoker to keep warm & pull when needed. Peel back the husk & the hair come right with it, wrap a foil pull around the bottom and have a bottle of squeeze butter on the table for your customers to add if wanted. Quick sellers with little or no hassle.
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BulloftheWoodsBBQ



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09 14 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good ideas Jeff. That corn sounds really good. What do you price it and the pickles at?
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Ridge View BBQ
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11 14 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BulloftheWoodsBBQ wrote:
Good ideas Jeff. That corn sounds really good. What do you price it and the pickles at?


Not sure what Jeff gets for it,but we sell corn for $3 ea. and 2 for $5
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Painless
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PostPosted: Mon May 05 14 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Been going good so far. We typically do 65 racks of ribs in a 4-5 hour period ($1200-1400)
I have been using the god fathers recipe and people love it (doh, that's why they call him the god father).
I have been asked to vend a 3 more locations, but don't have the time to do so (currently working full time as well) and there are some obvious scalability problems.

I have tried beef/pork/chicken/sausage. They taste good, but to be honest people seem reluctant to try something that, in their mind at least, they can cook themselves at home.

Although there are some challenges with cooking large volumes of ribs both technically as well as from a financial (they have the least profit) point of view, I think ribs present the best opportunity to move forward with BBQ in NZ (esp. given the lack of knowledge my consumers have about proper BBQ).

I figure IF i can remove the scalability problem with cooking ribs I can kick this up into high gear.

My plan is to make it a 2 step process by investing in a blast chiller. This will allow me to cook the ribs 2 hrs in the pit. 2 in a commercial cook and hold oven in foil and then safely cool them for storage (inventory).

We will then take the chilled product to the event and through them on a gas grill to warm them, set the bark and sauce them - A job that anyone can do, multiple people can do, at multiple locations.

This should allow us to sell ribs without any real restriction on volume. We also don't have to 'eat the loses' as they can be keep cold and turned over for the next vend.

I have plans to make a commercial gas grill and chopping station. Bust basically ant to know what you all think and does this sound feasible.

Thoughts??
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Jeff T
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PostPosted: Tue May 06 14 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry guys forgot i posted in this section.

We get $2 dollars for an ear of corn. One event we sold em for $1, the event also had local farmers market people and the corn guy gave me a cooler full so we gave our customers a deal. Jumbo dill pickles on a stick for a $1.00, not a big money maker but its a low cost alternative. I like to have some kind of item for only a dollar.. everyone has a buck in there pocket or at least i`d like to think so. Wink
I try to sell all my items for 3 times cost at least, sometimes its more like 4 times cost depending on prices.
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