Catering, vending, trailer , truck, restaurant ????

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john pen

Master Chef
Jan 25, 2005
Western NY
So, as retirement nears, Im looking to start a biz that will be up and hopefully making money by the time I retire. Im looking at a food trailer, food truck, vending and or catering, or just a plain ole' restaurant. Ive got a commercial size flat top, 2 commercial deep friers, a big smoker and a bunch of other misc. equipment so i could outfit a truck or trailer fairly inexpensively. My daughter went to culinary school and is heading back for management classes. My wife and I have always wanted to open a food oriented biz, and it looks like now is the time for me. I thought a trailer would work as I could pull it with my bus to many different venues, but moving it into position could be an issue. I like the idea of a truck, but that would make me travel with two vehicles if I was going to use the bus for lodging. I like the idea of a restaurant, but then there's a lot of overhead issues to deal with, but also a ton of advantages...

So, who here has been there, done that and what do you feel are the ups and downs of the different venues ?
Confused in Lewiston
The entire scheme is risky..risky risky. Lot of retired folks out there who always had dreams of a picturesque little restaurant. They spend all their dinero to make it happen. They go broke and wind up as door greeters at Wally World as opposed to sipping cocktails on the beach. Forget it.
John, I wish you lived near me. I'd jump into the fray with you. Grommet food service trucks are really big out here. However, they are very expensive to set up and there's a ton of licensing issues to hurdle. You just need to find a niche you're comfortable with for a start up.

Maybe you could do a catering thing out of your home and deliver product to community cop shops. Set up an easy menu of Q with sides and deliver finished plates. You can always get young students (maybe ex cons?) to do deliveries for you. Start small and let it build by word of mouth.

If you don't have to layout a lot of bucks in the beginning to get up and running, the risks are minimal. Just make sure you have whatever licensing you need.

Good luck, Lew :D
Bigwheel is right about the Walmart greeters. Most restaurants fail, that's
a statistical fact.

However, if you keep the overhead down, and don't mind working for nothing
a lot of the time, your hobby can make you some money.
We are tossing around tons of ideas..We've pretty much ruled out a restaurant. There are fairs and festivals every weekend within 25 miles of home. We are taking it slow and doing a lot of homework. We recently talked about converting my back acre and a half into an "Outdoor Banquet Facility", but I don't really want to deal with the whole liquor thing and I think that would be necessary..
Liquor: 2 ways you can get around that (maybe). Tell them bring your own, which is legal.
They can hire someone or do it themselves.

2, you can set up a deal with a local bar or restaurant for them to come and serve under
their license. A friend of mine does that down here.
The way the big event centers do it down here is sorta as described. The host buys the devils urine then they have to pay a Likker Board approved bar tender(s) (usually bartenders for licensed bars and working on the side) to dispense it..makes sure no kids get served or nobody get too toasty etc. then return the unused portion to the payor if there be any of course. That is if you want to give it away. Prob really get complicated trying to sell it.
If this is a part time retirement gig then why fight the booze problems at all? One of my relatives had a small restaurant and bar in Northern VA., (He was a retired cop) and when he closed up he was fed up with the problems that roll in with the booze wave! His parting quote was that he was too old to roll on the floor with a bunch of drunks.
I can see the attraction of making a few bucks doing what you enjoy....just don't make it a full blown job, that's what you are retiring from!
Best of luck in whatever you decide.
I think we are leaning towards some sort of ending to get our feet wet. Prob with a tent at some local festivals.
Sounds like a great idea. Start small and grow like a seed. Mighty Oak trees from tiny acorns grow. Or seems like I heard that one time.
I am in the same position will be retiring at 55, but I plan to stick with Catering. Restaurants and trucks have way too much overhead, and regulations..and research shows you must sell at high volumes to stay in business. Catering is more leisurely for my needs. After all, I will be retired, dont want to work too much but want to keep my passion alive. By catering, I can pick and choose what event or project I want to take. If it's retirement, I'm not looking to spend my life savings on a restaurant where statistics show more than 50% fail after the 1st year.
John get ahold of Good Smoke...he has been vending at BBQ competitions he might be able to answer some questions.
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