Author Topic: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons  (Read 4373 times)

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Offline flyboy4ual

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Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« on: January 19, 2010, 01:58:01 AM »
Hi everyone,

I was wondering how the members with the Mobile WFO businesses are doing.  I have a full time (well sort of full time) job and was looking to do something on the side that I enjoy doing and would not require a 24/7 type of schedule.  I have been researching on building a WFO in my backyard and the city will not allow it, so I thought I could purchase a Mobile WFO and incorporate it into a small business and also have it for home use.   Are the current mobile WFO operators happy that you got into the business, or was it a big mistake?  Any pros and cons that you could educate me with?

Thanks,
Scott


Offline jjerrier2450

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 12:13:06 AM »
Hey there...I have a mobile catering business in Dallas - Cane Rosso (www.ilcanerosso.com).  It has been a really fun project that has been very well received.  I am basically booked Wed - Sat with some double bookings on Fridays and Saturdays.  So I don't know if you can categorize it as part time...I feel like I am constantly making dough.  You need to make sure and research your local health dept requirements - that will be the biggest hurdle along with finding a commercial kitchen to make all of your stuff.  The rules may vary for public (fairs, markets, etc.) vs. private (private catering gigs on private property for invited guests).  Once you get through all of those headaches...it is a ton of fun.

Offline flyboy4ual

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2010, 03:20:45 PM »
Thanks for the information Jay.  I just checked out your website.  Your pictures look amazing.  It sure looks like you got the business down pat.  By the way can you ship one of those pizza's here to California?  Looks a lot better than the turkey sandwich I just ate.  Just curious, how many employees do you need to do some of your larger catering events?  I have been making sudo brick oven type pizza's in my Barbeque one at a time and find that if I am making more than 4 or so that I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off. >:(  I just had my first real brick oven pizza at Antica in Marina Del Rey the other night.  It was fun to watch them make it and even better to eat it.  I could not believe how different the crust was compared to any other pizza I have had.  Must be that Caputo flour. Thanks again for the information.

Scott

Offline thezaman

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2010, 10:57:33 AM »
i am glad you ask this question . i just had an oven built by forno bravo ,that i am planning to put on putting on a trailer that i am having built for me . the oven is sitting at the local joint vocation school waiting for me to give them the ok on construction. i am getting cold feet in that i don't feel i can take the amount of time away from my restaurant that is needed to make this profitable.
 i have a outside patio that seats about 45 people i can build an outdoor kitchen and promote wood fired pizza as well as other entrees and not have to leave my business . my outside patio brings in 4 to 5 thousand extra dollars per week for me. [spring and summer]
 the fact that this is an independent restaurant people want to see the owner  as much as possible. i feel i am fortunate to be able to make a good living at something i love doing ,i should expand my concept maximizing space and existing fixed costs before taking the show on the road.
 as an edge on this i built a small oven on wheels that can be transported to our local farmers market and around the local college campus to promote my patio oven.
  this probably doesn't relate to your situation but this is my thought process on my issues ,i hope this isn't a thread jack and if so i will move it. i personally think that it is a great business to get into and the investment to profit ratio is very good and should pay for itself within two to three years with good tax benefits . you have to be able to put a lot of time into it.i am looking for some help on my current thought process ,thanks larry

Offline telehort

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2010, 07:32:39 PM »
I've been thrilled with my business and am getting ready to pass the 2 year mark this spring. 
If you wanted to contact me www.bellafamiliapizza.com I would be happy to talk to you and answer anything I can.



Offline Kemosa

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2010, 08:18:23 PM »
Telehort,

Ironically enough, today I get the Forno Bravo newsletter that gave mention to your business and the fact that you will be at the Monterey exhibit.  I fully scoured your website, printed off your home page and showed my wife and said "This is what I want to do when I retire or semi-retire From banking " !  The weather around here (PA) wouldn't allow me to do a year round business. 

Nice job, looks like you have a really cool business and most of all you enjoy what you do.

Offline flyboy4ual

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2010, 05:32:00 PM »
Telehort,
Thanks for the offer of information.  If I were to get serious about this I will be sure to give you a call.  Congrats on the 2 year anniversary. 
Thanks again,
Scott


Offline GotRocks

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2010, 12:02:55 AM »
Telehort,

Ironically enough, today I get the Forno Bravo newsletter that gave mention to your business and the fact that you will be at the Monterey exhibit.  I fully scoured your website, printed off your home page and showed my wife and said "This is what I want to do when I retire or semi-retire From banking " !  The weather around here (PA) wouldn't allow me to do a year round business. 

Nice job, looks like you have a really cool business and most of all you enjoy what you do.

PA has some of the tightest heath department regulations in the country when it comes to outdoor food-prep. I own a mobile catering business, but i do not do wood-fired pizza's . I do BBQ, and many many other items that I can grill, smoke or put on our charcoal/wood fueled rotisserie.

I could not operate my business in PA due to the laws, but I have the full blessing of the HD in my state, and my operation is legal and insurable in almost any other state too.
You may want to consider yourself a "Contract Chef" instead of a caterer, it is a different set of rules, and easier to stay within those laws & rules because you have more leeway, but at the same time you will also have more restrictions as to what you can and cannot do.

PA is tough!! I wish you the best of luck with your venture. PM me if you want some help, I would be glad to offer my knowledge from my catering biz.
A skinny cook is not to be trusted!

Offline Kemosa

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2010, 07:25:24 PM »
GotRocks,

Thank you.  I am actually looking to do this either on my own or as a partnership with one of my commercial customers that owns an Italian restaurant and does catering.  I think the HD requirements concern me the most.  I haven't actually looked in to the all the requirements yet, but this is one area that I have no experience in at all.  The business plan, the pizza, the financing, the events, the oven....no problem.

There's a number of festivals and events around here and it would be really disappointing if the HD put a nix on the deal.  Thanks for your suggestion!










Offline GotRocks

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2010, 10:22:42 AM »
if you have a commercial kitchen to base your operations out of, it gets much easier.

You'll want to start looking for regulations at the county level, since each county has their own special regulations you'll need to follow.
Have you gotten your food-handlers/sanitation certificate yet? (Serv-Safe cert.) you can research this through the national restaurant association, or your state restaurant association.

Most inspectors get real impatient when they are speaking with someone with absolutely zero knowledge about the current laws and procedures, so try to educate yourself as much as you can before that meeting.

I am serv-safe certified, and I hold a valid "Food-manager" License for my state. the serv-safe course can be expensive if doing it alone, but many food purveyors will sponsor classes to help bring that cost down. the book alone cost $85.00! your certification is good for 5-6 years and worth every penny even if you have years of restaurant/catering experience. I have been continually certified since 1982, but 3 years ago I missed my cut-off for a refresher course, and I had to take the 8-hour newbie class because of it.

The class is mostly common sense things, but somehow there is still a 50% failure rate. My last class only had a 26% graduation rate.
It is not tough, you just got to have some knowledge.

If there is any way I can help, just ask.
A skinny cook is not to be trusted!


Offline Kemosa

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 08:37:36 PM »
I will definitely do my homework.  Seems like there's a lot more to this than I originally suspected.  Again, I appreciate your advise.  I think that I am leaning toward the equipment offered by "The Fire Within".  From the little investigative work I've done, I'm so far very impressed with them.

Offline GotRocks

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2010, 10:42:06 AM »
I will definitely do my homework.  Seems like there's a lot more to this than I originally suspected.  Again, I appreciate your advise.  I think that I am leaning toward the equipment offered by "The Fire Within".  From the little investigative work I've done, I'm so far very impressed with them.

Would that be a mobile oven made by "Forno-Bravo"? I did a search for "fire within" and the only mobile WFO reference was out of Colorado and for that brand.
I am seeking financing right now for turning our on-site catering BBQ operation into a restaurant and add a WFO to the mix. And Forno Bravo is the company I plan to use for my oven.
Sadly, due to lack of talented help in this area, I need to get a wood/gas combination oven so I know the oven will be running at the correct temp's if I am not there to keep an eye on the guys every minute of every day.

I have looked at woodstone, although they make a great wood-fired grill, I am not impressed with the abilities of their ovens, or the cost of them either.

I wish you the best luck with your venture, I am sure there will be obstacles that seem overwhelming the more you learn about foodservice to the public, There is alot of stuff to get in your way, but just go with the flow. I have been in & out of the restaurant/catering industry for near 25 years now, So I tend to take alot of stuff for granted that someone new to the business might not know right off the bat.
As I mentioned earlier, if there is anything I can do to help, just ask

A skinny cook is not to be trusted!

Offline Kemosa

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2010, 06:59:15 PM »
Yes, this company sells strictly Forno Bravo ovens on their trailers.  Their new trailer is called the "Tailgater" and sells for as little as $10,000.  I am taking my time with this and will absolutely go with the flow.  I'd like to start doing it part-time and keep my day job and see what happens.  I'm not really in for the money, but hey it sounds like it could potentially be a nice supplement to my income.  I want to have fun with it.

As I go I'm sure I will have many questions and I appreciate your willingness to help.  Best of luck with your restaurant as well, and if you have any questions on financing, please don't hesitate to ask..That's what I do...commercial lending.





Offline GotRocks

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2010, 09:39:21 PM »
if you have any questions on financing, please don't hesitate to ask..That's what I do...commercial lending.

Really??

I would love to discuss a few things with you.
 if you can, please send me a PM with your contact info, or I can send you mine. Either way it does not matter.
I started our catering biz with my own cash, then reinvested into the biz to get more equipment each year. My employees think I am kidding when I tell them they make more money working for me that I make working for me!
 Due to the amount of money needed to get a brick & mortar operation off the ground, I need financing. I think it is alot, but probably childs play amounts for you since you deal with it everyday
A skinny cook is not to be trusted!

Offline Kemosa

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2010, 07:09:12 PM »
It's a definite plus that you have plenty of experience in the food industry.  Many people want to get into the restaurant business when they really have no clue.  Most don't make it past the application or business plan stage. 

I sent you my contact info and will gladly help if I can.

Offline GotRocks

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Re: Mobile WFO catering business pros and cons
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2010, 08:34:01 PM »
  Many people want to get into the restaurant business when they really have no clue.  Most don't make it past the application or business plan stage. 

And up until 5-6 years ago, banks were way too willing to loan money to start a restaurant to someone with no practical experience. I had a friend who against all my hours of trying to talk him out or trying to start a restaurant, did so anyways. His adult children were able to rescue him when he lost it all.
The guy worked in the automotive industry his entire life, but somehow though he could own and operate a successful restaurant in the middle of nowhere with his wife cooking, and him waiting tables. She worked in an office environment he entire life so she also had no experience.

When I realized there was no changing his mind, I tried to help him by showing him food-cost percentage ratios, pricing strategies, the whole tamale! I even offered to volunteer my time to get him up & running properly so he would not be learning from his own mistakes. But he declined everything, and it only took 5 months before he realized it was a lost cause, and all that money was gone for good.

If anyone ever plans on opening a restaurant, just think of this little formula;
for every $1.00 that you put in the cash register, you get to call $0.04-$0.07 of that profit. the rest is going to other places.

Does anyone know a surefire way to make a small fortune in the restaurant business??
Start with a large fortune!!!

Scott,
If I can help you with pricing your proposed menu by using industry standard food-cost percentage ratios, or forecasting labor-cost percentages, just ask. I actually enjoy the math, it keeps me on my toes. Just remember everything has an expected yield, and it is rarely ever 100%. you need to figure your yields, then re-figure your actual cost before trying to do cost-percentage based pricing structures.
A skinny cook is not to be trusted!


 

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