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Old 01-20-2006, 01:35 PM   #1
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Thinking of opening a food service business ...

First, to the mods, I did not find a more reasonable place to put this, so if it is out of place, my apologies with no hard feelings for relocating it where it should go.

Second, I realize there have been other topics regarding starting food businesses. I have searched and found them, but not all the information was useful. Additionally, there are aspects to my query likely to be unique to me.

Let's get on with it then.

As mentioned elsewhere in this forum, I'm sort of at a crossroad. In a nut shell, I went to school and got a Bachelor degree in law enforcement. However, the law enforcement field in MN is very hard to break in to. Also, my training would not follow me elsewhere without having worked as an officer in my "home" state. That said, being almost 30 yet at a career point of someone a decade younger, I'm a bit concerned. Perhaps time for a contingency plan? Let me think about that a moment. Um, ya think?

So, with no formal training, and some experience dating back ten years or more, I am pursuing employment/career in culinary arts. Why? I love food (it shows too) . That's the abridged version.

Now, as to opening a food service business, here's where my "uniqueness" enters in. I'm obviously living in MN now, and for many reasons would like to start something here. That said, there are very strong bonds pulling us (Mrs. Big Dog & me) towards New England ( I was born and raised in MA). Thus the dilema. Relocation is not an option right now due to finances. That and not having a job lined up out there for when I get there! However, the draw is still as strong as ever, if not more.

That leaves us here in MN, at least for a while. I am pursuing culinary employment to begin building experience, as well as considering educational opportunities to advance my learning. I have begun to research the requirements of a food service business in MN. Have not done so in MA/CT/VT/NH.

What am I looking/asking for? Guidance and wisdom right now, particularly from those located in the aforementioned areas. My direction is not clear to be honest, though personal chef and catering are comfrotable thoughts. Maybe a restaurant someday, but not right off the bat. Specifically from those in New England, lead, guides, links, etc. to requirements would be helpful. I already have a strong connection (my best friend) in western MA that is a cook at a regional chain restaurant that is interested in working together if something was started out there. Specifically for fellow Minnesotans, an opportunity to meet over coffee (I love Caribou) or something to just listen to stories, etc. of your experience would be great if you were comfortable doing so. That, along with perhaps visiting your establishments would prove valuable. Of course, from any and every one, your stories, experiences, etc. are priceless too!

I look forward to reading replies here, but also invite you to communicate privately if you so choose. I have Y! Messenger, and my e-mail should be available in my profile as well.

I thank everyone in advance for their contribution to my education and direction in my career.

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Old 01-20-2006, 02:06 PM   #2
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To address one of your issues quickly, could you work something with your friend in Western MA to hook you up with culinary employment in that area? It would solve two problems - eliminating one reason for not relocating and giving you some relevant work experience. It would also allow you to start plannign for the next step with your friend.
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Old 01-20-2006, 02:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
To address one of your issues quickly, could you work something with your friend in Western MA to hook you up with culinary employment in that area? It would solve two problems - eliminating one reason for not relocating and giving you some relevant work experience. It would also allow you to start plannign for the next step with your friend.
The thought has crossed my mind. At this point, he and his wife are expecting baby #1 any day now, so the last couple few months through the next ??? months will be interesting for them. Also, my friend is a bit on the absent minded side and without someone there with a cattle prod, t'would likely be forgotten. I realize that doesn't make him sem like a real good friend, but that's just how he is. Even with family things, he's like that.

Over the course of 2006, I'm going to push him a bit more (well, at least on the new baby bit settles down into a routine) and hope to be out there perhaps to start 2007.
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Old 01-20-2006, 04:02 PM   #4
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Be very serious if you are going to do this, 90% of food service businesses fail if you don't have a financial backer(s). The little guys usually do not survive in this day in age.

Not trying to be negative or anything, but as an 18+ years in the food service industry, I've seen weeks and months where the business owners haven't been able to pay their bills and me at the same time.
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Old 01-20-2006, 04:25 PM   #5
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Starting a food business is a big investment. And since food spoils...
My parents have been in the food business for 20 or so years and had a food court space, the first corporate catering company in the area, a cafe, and now a food "plant." They were scraping money by for the first years, they never turned a profit with their first company, which was mostly just the two of them and a few other employees.
For starting a company though, libraries are good places, my mom lived in a library and did lots and lots of research and had a very good plan laid out before they did anything. But the internet also wasn't around then...

But, if it makes it a little more positive, my dad had a master's degree in some sort of engineering and my mom had a bachelor's in education. They had no culinary background.

I know that isn't exactly the suggestions you wanted, but I've just watched my parents all my life. I've lived on top of a restaurant and a catering company. It also depends on the market where you live.
Pursuing a career in an area where there's a demand can also help you be succesful and help decide what culinary pathway to choose.
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Old 01-20-2006, 04:40 PM   #6
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The years and years of experience represented by members here is a key resource I want to tap in to. I realize starting a business in most any field isn't cheap, which is why it is likely I'm going to have to be working elsewhere while working at getting this off the ground.

Erik, I certainly understand the reasoning for giving it your all, and frankly I don't have any other choice. As I said, I'm almost 30, yet at a career point of someone around 20. Whatever I do at this point has to be all or nothing. Anything else would be sheer stupidity.

Marmar, thanks for your knowledge as well. It is encouraging to see that others have succeeded with education in fields other than culinary arts.

I think back to this past Christmas, where we hosted Mrs. Big Dog's family at our place. 14 mouths to feed, and I was responsible for cooking all the hot food (well, short the veggies that were from a family member's garden). Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and squash was the menu. I straight up had an absolute blast, and also enjoyed basking in the aura of watching everyone eagerly consume the fruits of my labor, and enjoy it even! I love cooking, yet I know I have much to learn. The more I can learn from y'alls experience, I think the better I have a chance to succeed.

Thanks for the input so far. I look forward to much more forthcoming!
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Old 01-20-2006, 04:54 PM   #7
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BigDog your situation and mine are remarkably similar in so many ways so I will be watching this thread with great interest.

I happen to be looking to open a food business in MA (probably right in Boston). I will be doing this with my brother. We just discussed it last night and decided we are going to give this a shot. I am really not sure of what our first steps should be, but I think what I will do first is call the Chamber of Commerce and also the Board of Health and see if they can give me some info.
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Old 01-20-2006, 04:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
BigDog your situation and mine are remarkably similar in so many ways so I will be watching this thread with great interest.

I happen to be looking to open a food business in MA (probably right in Boston). I will be doing this with my brother. We just discussed it last night and decided we are going to give this a shot. I am really not sure of what our first steps should be, but I think what I will do first is call the Chamber of Commerce and also the Board of Health and see if they can give me some info.
Maybe as you learn and share your findings there, I can keep track here so when I do come out there, I can maybe have a head start. Or, you and your brother start there, then I work with y'all to start a western branch whenever I get out there!

Were you and your brother in more of the western part of MA, I'd be interested in perhaps a more prominent role rather then outsider looking in and learning!
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Old 01-20-2006, 05:01 PM   #9
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Big Dog, I have zero advice to give you on starting your own business.

You seem to have the passion, though, and that's important. It sounds corny, but you really do need to follow your dreams. Life is too important to waste on BS.

Yeah, do the BS jobs to get you by until you realize the dream. You are young and have the energy to go for it, so keep that ultimate goal in mind and you should do OK.

How many people have you heard of on their deathbed who wished they had gone to more meetings?
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Old 01-20-2006, 05:10 PM   #10
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Bigdog I will certainly post my findings here. You can count in that! My brother is in Framingham and I am in North Grafton (close to Worcester).
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