The Caterers Corner
Would like your opinion. Caterers Corner: Would like your opinion.
By Fancy (Fancy) on Saturday, May 11, 2002 - 01:16 pm: Edit

I just bought a used catering truck, well I understand it is actually called a "lunch wagon". After talking to my city health department regarding licensing I was told the lunch wagon business is not the way to go. With companies having cafeteria's and vending machines not many people want to venture outside to buy food from a truck.

I placed an ad to rent kitchen space, will be properly licensed and insured. My idea is to use this truck (which I guess I put the carriage before the horse when I bought it) to deliver the hot and cold foods that I prepare. I want to cater only small gatherings, no more than 50 people and not less than 20.

What are your thoughts on this idea. Could you also give me some idea's on how to advertise.

Thank you for your opinions.

By Fancy (Fancy) on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 01:34 am: Edit

What's the story on this discussion. Does anyone ever answer a question? Just wondering where all the chat is.


By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 10:01 am: Edit

Pose that question to Cheftim, he is in charge here....

It used to be much more lively, then some of us were told we were being too confrontational and now boredom.

Censorship, in any form thwarts creativity....


By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 11:02 am: Edit

My goodness Carl, such animus.

Actually Fancy, Saturdays are usually slow around hear because for so many it's such a busy day. And today being Mother's Day well....

What are my thoughts? I'm not sure how to answer your quest to do a rout and decided not to because of the health departments comments?

Word of mouth is ion. What Kind of "lunch wagon" is it? Some here have talked about using catering trucks to cook on site. I've just carted everything in cambro insulated carriers.

Seems like your a little unfocused. Did you get a "lunch truck" to do a rout and then change your mind because of the health department's comments? Is catering just a second best choice?

The best advertising is word of mouth.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Sunday, May 12, 2002 - 10:22 pm: Edit

Hey Fancy,
This may be a long way around, but... if you were to contact someone here in LA, they use those trucks for everything, from constuction sites to cooking A LA Carte on movie sets. I know they do the food gammit, cause I eat off them, ah...maybe once a month. I know the set up in/on them varies.
Where are you? What city? If you need some contact help, let me know.
Maybe talking to a couple of these companies will give you an idea on what you want to do.
Just a thought.

By Fancy (Fancy) on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 05:42 pm: Edit

Hi, Thanks so much for answering my questions.

I guess I was a little confusing -- in my questions. Now, my plan to use this truck will be to cater to upscale businesses with my "fancy" menu of sandwiches, and desserts. Believe me, I am a really good cook, sorry that I haven't had a culinary professional background, but I know about good food and I believe presentation is the way to go "I can do that easily".

Please guys, help me to get into a business where I can promote good food, presented professionally and get my name known. I'm not that young anymore, need your help!



By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 07:23 pm: Edit

Starting a Successful Catering Business

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 09:47 pm: Edit

The whole idea sounds like a very amateurish (businesswise) move!!!
Why would you buy something without knowing what you were going to do with it?
Why would you listen to licensing people about business advice?
This truck is pretty much useless as food transport, not enough space, temp.....ect.
It's actually called a "roach coach"
Carl, I hope this doesn't sound too confrontational, it's definitely "on topic"

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 10:13 pm: Edit

Who's Carl ? What does Carl do ?
Ok, Manny lets help this guy out.
Listen FANCY, if that is your real name. Have you decided on a menu? It (the menu) needs to "fit" the truck you have. So pick your menu and get back to us. Some of us will help you with the food side( that would be the chef's) and some of us will help you with the Deserts( that would be the real chef's) OK?
and just how not young anymore are you??
and what city are you in?
oh and what equipment do you have in this thing.
and make sure it's clean, these things have a bad enough rap already.

By Fancy (Fancy) on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 11:48 am: Edit

Thank you Chefspike, for some encouraging help.

I'll be 49 in October, and my name is Nancy - The catering will be called "Fancy Nancy's". I live in Milwaukee.

As for "amaturish business move" - I don't think so. Sometimes life deals us a deck of cards that says take another card and take a chance, instead of folding "giving up". I lost a great job after 11 years due to the organization relocating. Many people have, and some get up and try to start something new, at this point I REALLY have nothing to lose.

I guess I did buy the truck rather foolishly, not really knowing what to do with it. But, now I have it and need to utilize it.

I only want to cater to small parties 25 - 100 max, I understand this thing is not huge, but it has a very large refrigerated section, and a hot compartment rather small but could be utilized to deliver hot items. I want to make healthy lunches, and created some really good spreads to use on them. Forget the potato chip thing, greasy food, I want to utilize fruits as a side. As for desserts I would like to do pastries, and cheese cakes. I made up some sandwiches and had a little taste testing and everyone loved them. Example:Top Round Roast Beef, sliced very thin, I made seasoned butter with horseradish and barbecue sauce, alpha sprouts and wild morel & leek jack cheese on a kaiser roll. I have other good ideas and really want to have vegetarian sandwiches too.

Alright, maybe it was a dumb thing to do, but I did it, now I need help.

Thanks to those of you that are willing to give me ideas, I really do appreciate it.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 09:22 pm: Edit

Carl is Catergreat you twit!!!!!
Nancy, if you got some $$$$ put away from the job you had, this is not the business to experiment in!!! 85% failure rate in the first year alone.
I'm not encouraging I know but, reality is reality!
Is there a need for this where you are? Limiting yourself to 25-100 is a strict constraint!
At 49 it is not easy to start over if you lose your shirt! I feel like that a 43. Not that I would not take a risk but I would limit my liabilities as much as possible.
Whatever you decide good luck!!!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 09:32 pm: Edit

Listen, I admire anyone who has a vision and goes after it. Even if it's out of order.
I'm most likely not the best to talk to about these trucks, but I'll help when you want it.
My first suggestion is to get your menu together, and start making things at home to taste. Thats if you have the time and money back up that will allow you to do this. Get your license and food handlers stuff together. Learn what you have to learn about the truck, and your equipment. Find out what pans, ect., will fit where, and this will help you know what you can carry and/or make and store. Another thing you may want to consider is how much you can produce at home. How long to bake, cook on your stove, oven. Would it help if you looked to share a kitchen with another cater?
This would allow you some needed cooking, prep, and storage space. I know theres a lot of other things I'm missing, but maybe none to big to handle once you get started.
You have your work cut out for you.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 09:36 pm: Edit

Having a good day...are we?

By Fancy (Fancy) on Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 03:29 am: Edit

Chefmanny & Chefspike,
Buy the way, you guys are great for even answering my ridiculous business idea. Well, I bought it, I guess I better try something with it!

And to you Chef Carl - TWIT OR Twit ~ you guess.

I just got home from being wait staff at a hotel that is close to the Milwaukee Airport. This is probably the lowest of low (well I'd have to think about that) that I have come. I have an excellent work ethic (if you guys know what I mean, and I'm sure you do!). I do what I have to do.

I will sell this truck and get the correct equipment needed to deliver the stuff if I knew what to buy. Believe me, I want to make something come of my misfortune. So - I was stupid, and bought a "Roach Coach", well it is very clean and there are no roaches living in it fortunately. Guess I bought the wrong thing.

The hotel I work at is a very well known hotel, and their so called chefs, well let me say this ~ I could out cook any of them in a second. Where do they hire these people from, kindergarten. No class act here.

The restaurant is doing exceptionally well since I started only because all of the customers love my style of being a real person and waiting on them with real class. Unfortunately I have to apologize for poorly cooked food too often.

I know I can make it in the food business, I know people, and I think I know how you guys are thinking. (I'll keep that to myself, for now - OK)

If anyone of you is willing to tell me what I should buy to deliver this stuff that I will cook I would really appreciate it.

In Milwaukee, downtown is a great place to cater to the business crowd. I really do make good food, guess I should have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth.

I have placed an ad for restaurant space to make everything legal. I am having this truck serviced to make it up to standards. I must try to make something of this mess I'm in financially, and being a good cook without having a culinary background, as all of you do it is difficult to get known. I guess I still need some kind of advise, but not sure if you want to give it to me.

I'm willing to go the extra mile to make it, hows that sound ~ corny ~ I know, but I will keep on trying to make a go of this.

Please let me know your comments, by the way, where are you chef's?
Fancy ~ Nancy

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, May 19, 2002 - 10:16 pm: Edit

Fancy, a van is all you need if you plan your deliveries correctly and, if they are close to your business location. It's pretty cold up there anyway, refrigeration is mother nature! As long as the trip is not too long!!!

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Monday, May 20, 2002 - 11:35 pm: Edit

No, Cheftim, you guys have basically run off the professional caterers...

It is true, many people ask the same questions over and over and WE used to answer them over and over... I dispensed HUGE amounts of valuable information.. yet when I point out the legalities to protect the caterer and the public, I am too controversial to moderate the forum...

When I was doing so, we had much more traffic... now you guys just have your own private little corner...

I am very busy as are you, but I used this forum to give back to my industry (which I feel a strong responsibility to do).

Now on there are dozens of professionals and beginners sharing ideas and information.... It's unfortunate this forum cannot do the same...

I enjoy reading the conversations you have on the other forums at Webfoodpros, most of you have much wisdom.... I have learned a great deal here... I just choose to read, not respond here...


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 21, 2002 - 12:12 am: Edit

Man Carl, What happened?
I myself am rather new, but it seems that if you have something to teach, even a guy like me reads what you have to say.
Of course, some perfer not to learn, but they will, when they see the error of there ways, down the road of their career.
Man, that sounds gooood.
I should call myself Chef Deacon.
I know for a fact that many, here, think your input IS valuable. I just don't want to see all the older members leave.
I've checked those other web sites, and this one has something that those others lack.
Don't ask me what.

By George (George) on Tuesday, May 21, 2002 - 08:39 am: Edit


Please Don't encourage carl. His major contributions lately are plugging catorsou4rce (he is a forum moderator there) and knocking new folks trying to start up without deep pockets. Unfortunately he has turned into a self serving bore instead of someone wishing to contribute.

He used to be a valued contributor, now he's just someone plugging a commercial site.

I enjoyed his absence. The same old postings get very tired.


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 21, 2002 - 06:36 pm: Edit

A web site just for cater's......YIKES !
How boring.
What are the threads like......
1.) Paneoligy, 2" full or 2" hotel.( I know, don't say it)
2.) "Why can't I get Smart & Final to deliver!?"
3.) What do you mean, NO ONE got the directions!!!!
and 4.) Do you start the cut from the middle or the sides when making salami cones????
Sorry, Can't help myself.

By Sam (Sam) on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 01:22 am: Edit

well I feel I must defend my cater buddy Carl-Catergreat, I've found him to be a commensurate pro caterer, with a fine reputation and business...I've found his remarks to queries that have some basis, to be to the point, factual & polite, now both he & I have strong opinions regarding HBs (home based caterers), which as you all know for the most part are illegal, and I believe we all have a responsbility to our industry to maintain professionalism, and that doesn't mean only those with deep pockets, when I started we had shallow pockets & many a mortgage, as for his "plugging" of catersource, as far as I know, he is not a principal or a paid employee or consultant, but just an interested party to a forum solely based for caterers.....any board or forum would be more interesting & in depth, regarding catering with Carl & his insights....just my thoughts....Sam Sears, CEC

By Chefferd (Chefferd) on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 09:27 am: Edit

It seems to me that we all should have a place where we can not only exchance ideas and knowledge but poke fun at one another, as well as ourselves and our industry, without getting upset and resentful(I'll just take my ball and go home). The thing I like most about this fourm is, at the end of a loooong and tiring day I come home and enjoy the company of other Chefs. Just my thoughts. Lighten up.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 08:52 pm: Edit

NO, NO, NO....NO FUN HERE!!! These boards are only for the professionals, by the professionals and only professional comments are to be posted here!
The WWW is the new Wide World Communist Order, if your post is not liked it is either deleted or chastised by the moderators!!!!!
God forbid if you try to make light of anything!
That is not what these boards are for if you want fun go to Nazi....have your fun there but, NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!!!!

By Sam (Sam) on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 10:01 pm: Edit

well I, for one, enjoy Carls dark humor, quick wit & knowledgable advice and protest his censored absence from these professional boards....just my vote folks.....sam

By George (George) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 12:02 am: Edit

Anyone having fun here will be sentnced to clean everyone elses grease traps.

As far as any "censored absence" of anyone it's news to me.


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 01:38 am: Edit

Ok, I guess I'll say something.
There have only been a few people that have been on this site that I did not enjoy.
That was some time ago. I hope they stay away.
As far as Carl goes, I hope he is not gone nor banned. It's good to see Manny back and I wish Panini would come back and bring some others that I have not seen or read here in a long time.
I feel that the only things that should not be discused is Race, Religon, because NONE OF THAT SHOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO US.
We are Chef's first, everything comes in a distant
I come her to learn, have fun, make fun of you guys, learn, teach, and it's great cause I don't have to rejoin some oranization, and pay dues, or attend some damn meeting or sit close to you.
I think we should give good advice to anyone who asks, and it should not matter to us what they do with it, or if we think they should be in the biz or not. We should be able to speak freely here, just like in the kitchens were we work. Well where you guys work, cause I'm not working, and loving the hell out of it!!!!
So, as I put the soap box back I hope to read you all in the future and as always at this time of year..............................................GO RED WINGS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Fancy (Fancy) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 03:13 am: Edit

I am signing up for paneology, and Salami Cones 1.

By Fancy (Fancy) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 03:19 am: Edit

I have learned a great deal from all of you that have been dishing out advise (no pun intended!)

I was very surprised that "Catergreat" Carl didn't think that all of you were giving professional advice to a "beginner" (that being myself).

All of you not only have helped me with extremely good advise, but also have added some laughter to my day. I would consider it an honor to meet any of you.

Carl, I have stated quite a few times that I am not going to be a "home based" caterer. I do understand the laws, and certainly can't afford fines.

I put an ad in the Milwaukee Journal asking to rent kitchen space, and received only 2 calls. One from a guy wanting to sell me prepacked food, and the other from a guy wanting to rent an entire restaurant. If I could afford a restaurant I wouldn't have bought this ridiculous truck.

I did get a couple email's, you know who you are, and want to thank you for thinking of me.

I was beginning to feel like I shouldn't be asking professional chefs for help, but I still would like your opinions if you want to share them with me.

I need kitchen space - I thought about leasing a small store front and buying my own equipment to cook with. What are your thoughts on this? I don't have deep pockets now, that's for sure. There are a couple of restaurant supply stores here that sell used equipment. Maybe this is a dumb idea too.

Chefspike, I think I'll try selling "salami cones", You are too funny!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 11:50 am: Edit

check with churches and community centers about renting the kitchens they have. then check with other caters about the kitchens they use.
good luck.

By Sam (Sam) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 08:54 pm: Edit

or fraternal organizations usually have commerical kitchens....but here's some advice for anyone who wishes to start a catering company, if you are not planning to have a "storefront" where you would operate a take-out, deli, sandwich, ect retail space, look in industrial areas, rent is cheap, much cheaper than retail...retail can start around 15.00/ft/year and go to 40-50/ft, but industrial areas can be as cheap as 5.00/ft/year and an efficient catering kithcen can be small, add in some storage & a small office area and you could get for 500-600 month....just my thoughts...sam sears, cec

By Fancy (Fancy) on Friday, May 24, 2002 - 10:53 am: Edit

Sam, What a great idea, Wisconsin is a big industrial state with manying industrial parks right in my area.

By George (George) on Friday, May 24, 2002 - 05:28 pm: Edit

Along the same vein you might want to consider evaluating those warehouse areas as a location for a retail outlet. Often these areas have a large potential client base with little if any competition. Breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday, weekends and holidays off. Not fancy but profitable, and you can still have a life.

Just a thought.


By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 07:59 am: Edit

Thanks for giving me my password back.

Don't misunderstand me, I am ALL for giving advice to beginners.... I think the best advice is to first make them aware of the laws and consequences of illegal home based catering.... Then I make them aware of the tough statistics facing them and how to prepare to beat the odds...

I was once very naive and bought a major franchise for a 24 hour restaurants... I WISH I had known the stats and what I was in for, but I didn't know what I DIDN'T know and was in for a BIG lesson.... I got out of it and even made 100k, but it was the hardest money I ever made, thank goodness I was able to sell it....

I will try this here again... thanks again, George....

By Chefferd (Chefferd) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 10:45 am: Edit

Statistics on how many food ventures go out of business in a certian span of time are really skewed. How many of them had any experience other than " Everyone loves the hamburgers I cook in my back yard, I think I'll open a restaurant". And how many of them really inderstand being responsible 24/7 ? I think if you have a dream and don't folllow it then you have really lost. Probably more than just some money. Just do your homework, ask for help, be frugal and DO IT. It's not about making less mistakes but about how fast you can recover and what you learned from them.
Thats just my opinion, I could be wrong.

By George (George) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 11:18 am: Edit

"Thanks for giving me my password back."

Passwords are encripted, I can only issue new ones.

I have NEVER deleted ANYONES password.(perhaps it was a capitilization issue, as is frequently the case with password problems here)


By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 07:21 pm: Edit


My point exactly...It is not all about the stats, but being aware of them and doing what you can to beat them.... Most of the failures are people who are undercapitalized, under educated, inexperienced... it only takes one deficiency to keep you from success in owning a business...

Well it didnt work and you didn't respond to my email concerning it, and now it works... in any case thanks...

I publically apologize for promoting the other forum at the other website... I did a search here and found 8 mentions of c*aters*urce and none were by me. I do recall encouraging people to attend the conference, being this is a catering forum, I would think a major gathering of caterers is on topic. And being I am not an employee of "that" company, I am just a fan...

With ALL that said, I will respect George's wishes and not promote the site or convention in the future...

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 07:21 pm: Edit

Catering questions or ideas? Let's hear them!

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 12:03 pm: Edit

Other sites are a source of information; why should they not be mentioned here just like I mention this site to others on other sites as a reference.
Is there a double standard that we can't mention sites here but, we can mention this site to others?
How do you think new people get turned on to this site.....the oldest form of advertising..Word of Mouth!!!!!!
How about Coke or Pepsi? Can we mention those?
Anyway...Carl it's good to see you are still with us!

By George (George) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 01:34 pm: Edit

"Is there a double standard that we can't mention sites here but, we can mention this site to others?"

Not at all.

Other sites are mentioned here.
In fact one was posted today in a response to a request for help with non-slip floors.

If a regular contributor mentions a site that's fine. I have never deleted a related site mentioned by a regular contributor who is not affiliated with that site.

Folks that are affiliated with other sites are prohibited from promoting them. Just as I would be prohibited from promoting my sites or endeavors there.

We are more that happy to exchange links with other sites to help promote each other.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 02:08 pm: Edit

Hey Manny, what ever happened to yankee?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 03:11 pm: Edit

Pot Roast!
Damn Yankee(s)
I have no idea!

By Fancy (Fancy) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 05:21 am: Edit

Even If I don't get into the catering "lunch wagon" business, I'm am glad that I have brought all of you together again.


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 10:28 am: Edit

Hey Manny,
Wasen't he in or around San Fran.
I think he was a he.
I have not read him here since that "john' guy was causing sh*t.
Hope you and the family had a good weekend.

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 05:23 pm: Edit

thanks Manny.

In the early days of this forum, I posted much information and had a great relationship with George. In fact, I would email him a long list of all of the duplicate posts or those which violated policy. I did this as a service for no compensation, but to keep the site uncluttered.

Many of the professionals you see on here are a direct result of me promoting this site to them. Like Sam Sears, Hillary, Mike Sullivan and several others. I have promoted WFP's Caterer's Corner site on the "other" catering professionals forum. What I like about this site is the wealth of information from Chef's. It is also an easy to find site. It is unfair that I be considered anything but a contributor to this site. Just look at the archives and the countless posts I have answer, the topics I have started.

I just think I should have received some sort of a reprimand or a "please stop promoting other related sites"... This all would have been diverted.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 06:58 pm: Edit

Carl, I feel the same way about the reprimand, during the time we were posting as "Jean Loui and Jean Pierre" a simple note saying; Hey please don't do this any more would have sufficed! Yet, we see posting about NHL and other off topic stuff and it seems to be allright!
I guess we are all learning as we go in this WWW crap!!!!!
Anyway, did we not butt heads in the beginning about illegal operations!!! I felt it was the only way to start out and, you felt (feel) otherwise; right!
Who cares what Spyke about that Elwood!!!!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 07:19 pm: Edit

Well, lets see...
I think everyone should be LEGAL!
and I think you've changed your tune, Manny.
Listen, if it's upsetting to anyone, I won't post anymore- gowings!-items about the NHL.
I really didn't know-gowings!-it was so upsetting to people.
But now that I know-gowings!-I certainly won't do it anymore.
There, Hows that?
Peace, Brothers
PS. Elwood says you spelled-gowings!-my damn name wrong again. Elwood says straighten up or we won't let you Florida people vote again.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 07:57 pm: Edit

Sorry Elwood!!!!!!!!!

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - 11:39 am: Edit

I personally like to see traffic. If I am not interested in NHL, then I scroll thru it.

Yes, Manny, we did disagree in the beginning and we may disagree in the future, but it is the disagreements that make interesting reading, don't ya think?

What I learned from the conversations was that I should not jump everyone who posts on whether or not they are legal.

I acknowledge and accept that many great caterers started at home, part time. The world has changed and some of the most avid "anti HBC" are former home based caterers themselves... (not me)

All of us professional caterers are not big corporate. Most of us are small, hard working and bust our butts to pay bills and hope there is enough left over to possibly retire from this some day. I just think everyone should be on the same playing field and follow the rules.

And yes I do lose events to illegals and NO, the client is not a cheapo, the client is uneducated and doesn't find out until later that they screwed up by using the illegal... In the meantime, I lose the the longrun, I win, but here comes another and another illegal...And it starts over again.

If there were NO illegals, people would be forced to use professionals and it would allow us to make more money....

Am I greedy? I just think everyone should play by the same rules or be shut down.

my opinion

By Chefferd (Chefferd) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 12:23 am: Edit

Why should someone that does not have the capital to open a catering shop or hire a crew not be allowed to earn a living? As long as they follow the same rules ? Maybe the rules should be changed. I have eaten in some places in Mexico and South America that are obviously someones home at night but a business during the day. The food was cooked on and in a non commerical kitchen and it was fabulous. If that same person came to our country and served the same meal under the same conditions he would be illegal. And therefore should not be allowed to take away your income? Sound kinda like UNION. And we all would suffer from less expansion of our culinary horizons... but that is just my opinion I could be wrong.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 02:01 pm: Edit

It's not that some won't, it's that many more DON'T. When you are not legal, there is no insentive to follow rules or Laws. When you make the investment into a biz. that is legal you have much more to lose. I think what your saying above is typical of people who don't want to make the legal investment, or work a little harder, then sit around and cry poor me.
No one is taking away their right to work, or their right to open a biz.
They should just do it legally.
And as far as the union aspect, I have always found in the culinary world that the unions don't protect me from anything, they just keep the jobs for people to stupid or lazy to have them if there wasen't a union.
3 write ups, 5 write ups, doz's of warnings, come on alreaddy, what does it take to weed out those individuals that don't measure up to the rest?
In todays world owners need people that come to work to do the job at the best of their ability, people who want to advance themselves, get ahead.
Oh, and I'm not an owner.
I know enough to realize that when that happens the wages go up cause the costs are kept down and the customer comes back. It makes everyones job that much easyer, including the chef's.
I could go on but..........
Thats my view.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 02:14 pm: Edit

Dear Carl,
How in the Hell can you not be intrested in the NHL?
My heart is breaking.
Oh wait, I forgot, Georgia, hot, muggy, ice melts.

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 04:07 pm: Edit

Chefferd, are you asking me to change the laws?

Just because you had a fabulous meal in another country without laws, doesn't mean that is the way this country should do it. Foodbourne illness is rampant in 3rd world countries...

I am all for people starting a business, but recommend against it if they are undercapitalized... especially in the catering business which takes so long to establish.

I am not talking about changing the laws, just following them... I don't care if someone gets into the business to compete with me,I just expect them to be held to the same standards...

By Sam (Sam) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 07:33 pm: Edit

Again I agree w/ Carl, business is a gamble at its best time, win some, loose some,,,but anything that could potentially effect the health & well being of the public is going to be regulated & should be, does that mean all regulated & licensed facilities are up to snuff??? NO, but the chances of the authorities finding those who do not follow safety & sanitation policies are much greater, than if our industry was unregulated....and I am speaking about myself, who started with very little, initial investment under 30K, but worked damn long, hard & have become very successful & respected, it can be done, but again it is a gamble.....and no matter which industry you speak of, we should all be on a level playing field.... and to those who say "I could loose my house or my savings, if I mortgaged everything to go into business" - again its a gamble.....sam sears, cec

By Chefferd (Chefferd) on Saturday, June 01, 2002 - 12:01 am: Edit

I guess my main objection to following the laws and all being held to the same standards, is that there are no standards. In the 25+ years that I have been in this business I have yet to meet 2 people that enforce the standards that interpert the health code the same way( even in the same city, let alone same county or state). Each and everytime I'm checked ( and always score high) I find that while meaning well they cannot come up with the same results.
So, what I mean to say is that if I feel comfortable in the surroundings and feel that the people running their business weather in their homes or some government sanctioned enviroment are conscientious about what they do then maybe they are exceptions to the rule and should be rewarded instead of held back.

By Fancy (Fancy) on Saturday, June 01, 2002 - 02:17 am: Edit

I think all of you guys should have a reunion, wouldn't that be great! You all seem like the best people, and good friends too.

Keep the peace ~ FANCY!

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Saturday, June 01, 2002 - 09:59 pm: Edit

That makes no sense Chefferd. Well, a little, but....

If I have to be held accountable for having a food service permit and put up with the crap associated with such, then so should ALL my competition.

I agree with what you say,I know there are those homebased caterers who do a better job than some professionals, but I disagree with allowing hobbyist or undercapitalized people to compete in the marketplace without proper insurance... and by the way, the ONLY way to get valid insurance IS to be legally permitted... ANYTHING else is totally irresponsible.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, June 01, 2002 - 10:11 pm: Edit


By Chefferd (Chefferd) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 11:40 am: Edit

I agree with the insurance thing, so I guess I see your point.

By Sam (Sam) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 12:21 am: Edit

let me add just a little to the insurance issue here, first there are probably some "professional" caterers operating out of licensed facilities with no insurance, insurance would come into play after the fact, when something drastic has happened, regulations & licensure are an attempt (feeble sometimes) to thwart the drastic from happening in the first place....but I digress, remember if one is operating contrary to the law from an unlicensed facility, but has insurance (They Will take your premiums!!), they will not be covered for any exposure from illegal activity, since they are operating illegaly, and all commerical lines polices have an exception clause to illegal activity on the part of the insured....just my two cents...sam

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - 08:09 pm: Edit

Fancy -

After you have found your kitchen (I advocate looking for space with another caterer), have your Serve Safe certificate, insurance, etc. Try starting out in offices (before lunch) and beauty parlors. There is one lady in this town who serves beauty parlors exclusively and has raised two daughters on her income. Keep it simple! And good luck!

By Manyhats (Manyhats) on Wednesday, July 17, 2002 - 10:15 pm: Edit

Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. I own a small deli in a large city and do frequent lunch and breakfast caterings but sales have been sluggish and I need to increase them.

I received a suggestion from a food pro on another industry board to contact mobile lunch trucks to sample my food and perhaps sell them prepared menu items on a daily basis. Excellent idea and something I will look into as soon as I have some free "daylight" time.

Flip this idea around to work for your situation. Even if you find low rent industrial space, you're looking at a good chunk of change to add proper wiring (you'd be surprised at the voltage some of the industrial equipment will pull) ventilation/exhaust, plumbing (sinks, drains), etc. That's unless you find a perfect fit, which would be a rarity.

Then you've got to add equipment, tables, counters, storage -- cha ching, cha ching. And either you slowly build the business as a private on-site caterer or you're driving the lunch-mobile around to office parks every day. Either way, you won't be in the black immediately - have to establish your market and your reputation.

My advice -- EASE into this and be careful not to bankrupt yourself.

One way would be to search out "food providers" - local established restaurants with good food and rep who (like me) would benefit from an extra boost in daily sales by sending prepared food out the back door to you, even if my name's not on the packaging. Scout local owners with quality food.

Even though you're itching to create and sell your own menu items... use this time to build business, keep costs almost non-existent and build a bank account. THEN, when you have met a pre-determined goal of $$ you need to finance your own "store" operation and you've developed your name and market -- then dive in head first and work hard to fulfill your dream.

To upscale the look of the "roach coach" - spend a little dough on a nice quality and classy awning with your screen-printed logo. Do some creative signage and have nice exterior lighting installed. Re-paint if necessary and always keep the outside (in addition to the inside) immaculately clean. I've seen both ends of the spectrum and the upscale truck really was impressive and it was all cosmetic. Did a killer business frequenting out-of-the way office parks that seem to develop faster than the surrounding retail. Keep moving and don't get stagnant in a place if you're not moving food there.

Good luck to you!

By Chefgbs (Chefgbs) on Thursday, July 18, 2002 - 07:09 pm: Edit

Hi Tammy,

Welcome to this forum. You'll find a lot of the same folks at this forum as at The nice ones anyway.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, July 19, 2002 - 02:32 am: Edit

Manyhats, That was great advice.
Hope to read you here again.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, July 19, 2002 - 02:35 am: Edit

chefgbs, "The nice ones anyway."
you must be talking about me

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Monday, July 22, 2002 - 02:14 pm: Edit

I liked Manyhats advice, too. When I spoke of renting from a caterer, I was thinking of a friend of mine who rents space, a corner, or the whole kitchen on an as needed basis. He is in San Francisco so he has a lot of potential. Right now he rents to another caterer, a cookie baker, a baker, and a sandwich maker. It works well for eveyone concerned and they don't get in each others' way.

My kitchen is much too small for that but I could probably go with a sandwich maker without any problem.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, July 24, 2002 - 09:49 pm: Edit

Manyhats, look at the legal issues if you do that, there are many more regulations for processed prepared foods for vending off premises as opposed to just selling in a restaurant for example, you have to put a label with all the nutritional values, ingredients, I'm pretty sure your kitchen has to be federally inspected by the same people who do the meat plants (can't think of the name now...brain fart!!!)
Anyway, good luck!!!!!

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Wednesday, July 24, 2002 - 11:44 pm: Edit

Federal food inspections are under the USDA. That is what the little stamp on meat boxes are, a USDA approval. That stamp is known in some places around the country as a "bug".

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, July 25, 2002 - 05:52 am: Edit

Thank you!!!

By Sam (Sam) on Saturday, July 27, 2002 - 10:08 pm: Edit

responding to "manyhats", to those who do not wish to have a "storefront", tables, chairs, deli-take-out, ect...industrial areas are great!, and as for the wiring, electrical requirements, ect, most industrial areas are much better "wired" than most retail areas, most will have a minimum of 200 amp /220/240 vlt, 1 ph service, a great majority will have 3 phs service, which is much less expensive to operate....we have had great success from our facility for over 14 yrs...just my observations...sam sears, cec

By Ginamiriam (Ginamiriam) on Saturday, July 27, 2002 - 11:10 pm: Edit

Fancy- Manyhats gave you some great advice. Now, couple that with a marketing plan and you are on your way. Get the names, addresses, phone #'s and contact persons for the businesses you are targeting. Write a sales letter-not just any sales letter but a great one with a special offer for trying your services, for example: FREE BROWNIES FOR YOUR STARVING CROWD (headline) When placing your first order(subhead). Include a menu with everything you have to offer. Have a way they can contact you at all times during business hours. That way, if you are using your truck and are on the road and someone wants a last minute order, you can just finish what you are doing and drive on over to them. Great food is important, word of mouth is very important. But if you really want the big bucks, MARKETING is the MOST important thing you can do to grow your business. Gina

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