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Equipment Question

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Good morning everyone! I'm brand spanking new here and I'm thrilled to have found this place.
I'm in the process of starting my own cupcake retail/mail order business. I'm currently a stay at home mom.
I've found a great little storefront here in Hoboken that is 400 sq feet. Not huge I know but I figure since I'm going to attempt to do mostly mail order it's a good place to start.
While I have huge dreams and plans for my business, I'm aware that I have to start small. Because my space is so limited, I need to find an oven that will bake the cupcakes (I've only ever used the oven in my kitchen and know almost nothing about serious grownup bakery equipment.) and doesn't eat up a ton of room.
The goal of my shop is not to crank out mass quantities of cupcakes but rather as an order comes in, bake it and ship it same day.
I'm thinking that to start I can get away with a standard kitchenaid mixer.
I know I can do this, I really want to try but having no experience other than baking in my own kitchen, I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.
Diana
post #2 of 28
NO, a K/A will be too small, and you'll spend alot of your valuable time measureing and mixing in small batches. You'll need a 20 qt mixer, preferably with a second bowl, and a full size convection oven. By full size I mean one that will accept the industry-standard 18" x 26" baking trays. Oh, and you'll also need some kind of refrigeration for your ingredients.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 28
Hey Cupcake good morning. Now I dont like to rain on anybody's parade but I would caution restraint on this venture. You are on the cusp of spending some copious amounts of money to launch yourself into a field of endeavor which would prob rate at about the 99.9 percentile of being guranteed to fail. In fact my oldest male chile is in the wholesale food service bizness and he has so many sad stories of folks who have poked enormous amounts of hard earned cash and even gutted retirement plans to pursue their dreams of opening up a picturesque little diner..bakery..bbq joint etc..only to wind up losing it all and having to be door greeters at Wally World in their golden years. My advice to you would be to start baking them cupcakes at home using your present equipment. If it starts making some money..start expanding it slowly. Main thing be to keep it at home till you flat just cant do it no more. I know some full time caterers and cake baking ladies who make a real good living doing it just like that. Now if hubby is a rich fella looking for a tax write off and money is no object I take all this back of course:)

bigwheel
post #4 of 28
Bear in mind however that you would have to meet some pretty stringent health codes to do it from home. And even though BW has some good points about failure rates (though a bit alarmist if you ask me) don't let it deter you. The owner of Sweet Street desserts is incredibly successful and she started off baking cookies in a tiny kitchen that she rented, so it can be done. I would suggest howeverthat if you sit there in your store and wait for orders to come in to ship them off as they come in, you may not last the month. You would need really to go out and drum up business locally to see you through. You can't wait for the world to come to your door, you have to meet them at theirs first. Best of luck to you and stick around, we'll do our best to help see you through all of it so someday we can say we knew you when...:)
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #5 of 28
I'm going to venture to say that baking is about 20 percent of the business. The difficult part is the other 80 percent. Sitting, waiting for the phone to ring is probably setting yourself up for failure. Chrose says it well.
Gathering business, costing,ordering,finances, insurance,permits is what sould be going on in your day. The baking can be done from 10pm on and packageing after.
anyway,
I'm placing an order now for 24 of your best cupcakes. When can I expect them, how will they be shipped and how do I get funds to you. I will be very happy to give you feedback on the product when it arrives. Please send to
Panini
6063 Sherry Lane
Dallas, Texas 75225
I choose to use Amex as most other business clients. but have other means.
Very serious about the order. I am certainly not being condesending or anything else. I am very pro ownership. Can't wait till the get here. I like chocolate but any flavor will do, maybe assorted.
pan
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #6 of 28
The one lady I know down here who bakes cakes in her home kitchen and been doing it for years does a lot of marketing at the schools. She dont know anything about health goons and they dont know anything about her. She makes the best cakes in town. Now her cookies need some help. Way too cakey for Tejas taste buds. I think she got yankee roots of some type:)

bigwheel
post #7 of 28
I wouldn't rely on this as part of your business plan.

I had a friend who made "to-die-for" cheesecakes in her home. She made them to order, as you are hoping to do. One of the people who was served the cheesecake by a customer asked where he could buy it. To make a long story short, the person worked for the city health department. Game over!

Panini and Chrose have good points, and the equipment foodpump suggests may not work well at home with home power supply, etc. A number of professional pastry chefs on this site (Momoreg, for instance) may have done baking at home in the past but are now using leased or rented commercial space. I suggest you see how they did it and go from there.
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post #8 of 28
There are lots of cool little storefronts in Hoboken that do a killer business from walk-ins. Our best friends live there and we love to go visit and hang out at the little cafes and coffee shops.
Try visiting a few like businesses in Manhattan like Cupcake Cafe and Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia has people lining up out the door to buy her cute little cakes and limits purchases to 2 dozen (though, frankly, the flavors don't really rank that high IMHO). But the business concept and homemade style is very winning. This type of thing would fit well in Hoboken.
As far as equipment goes, Foodpump's recommendations are on the right track.
Nail down some standard recipes and scale them up to make what? 4-6 dozen each with about 7-10% shrinkage (meaning those that fall on the floor, are shaped funny or stick to the pan ie. one you can't sell). Figure out what they cost you to make and thus, what you must sell them for-don't forget to include the cost of muffin cups, parchment and packaging materials in that cost. Then see if people will be willing to buy them at that rate. Then figure out how many you must sell per day to meet your overhead-rent, utilities, insurance, taxes, permits, advertising, marketing maintenance and other costs. All this is just the preliminary research in developing your business plan. Develop a solid business plan with the help of a CPA or other financial pro. That way, you know better what to expect and what you have to do to succeed.
Gosh, it goes on and on.
Whatever you do, ignore Bigwheel's advice about staying under the governmental radar. Everyone gets found out eventually and it costs you a whole lot more to fix the situation after the fact that dealing with it up front.

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #9 of 28
There are a lot of people working out of their homes in Texas. There are certain codes that include seperate entrance and kitchen, but it is done.
Cupcake,
I'm serious about my order, try it, see what happens. As far as starting small. Now is the time you have to decide if you want to go into business or have a hobby that pays a little. If you're wanting a business then your cart is way ahead of your horse.
If you decide you want to make this your business, I make myself available to you to answer any questions I may have an answer for. Three stops. Office Depot to buy an outline of a business plan, not saying you need one but it will reference a majority of the things you need to address. Then a CPA specializing in business development. Then a lawyer familiar with small business so that he or she can give you the dos and don'ts. One being putting your family at financial risk by not covering your bases.
If you put these off, you may find that your idea is a huge sucess! BUT!! I have yet to meet someone to fully develope a business after it has taken off, most lose it.
All the best to you and your venture.
Some of us that have done something like this will come off as being negetive, not so, just looking out for you so you don't make the same mistakes.
pan
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #10 of 28
There are a lot of people working out of their homes in Texas. There are certain codes that include seperate entrance and kitchen, but it is done.
Cupcake,
I'm serious about my order, try it, see what happens. As far as starting small. Now is the time you have to decide if you want to go into business or have a hobby that pays a little. If you're wanting a business then your cart is way ahead of your horse.
If you decide you want to make this your business, I make myself available to you to answer any questions I may have an answer for. Three stops. Office Depot to buy an outline of a business plan, not saying you need one but it will reference a majority of the things you need to address. Then a CPA specializing in business development. Then a lawyer familiar with small business so that he or she can give you the dos and don'ts. One being putting your family at financial risk by not covering your bases.
If you put these off, you may find that your idea is a huge sucess! BUT!! I have yet to meet someone to fully develope a business after it has taken off, most lose it.
All the best to you and your venture.
Some of us that have done something like this will come off as being negetive, not so, just looking out for you so you don't make the same mistakes.
pan
foodnfoto,
Sorry, I just said everything you just said, great advice
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #11 of 28
Actually you said it twice!:lol: :D

That is true. You can do a food biz out of the home, but you are subject to the same, if not more restrictions and laws that every food biz is subject to.
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #12 of 28
Well it total unacceptable to use a home kitchen for commercial food prep in my area. Least that is whut the health goons claim last I checked. That is why they need to be left out of the loop. Like the tongued tied neighbor boy say about the mean dawg in the neighborhood...If you dont bover him he wont bover you. Health goons get bothered when they see ads in the newspaper..yellow pages..or signage. Otherwise you prob never bump into one of the little darlins. Now if somebody eats your food and it results in a fatality..you could have some issues:)

bigwheel
post #13 of 28
It's unacceptable everywhere! I never said "home kitchen" I said "out of the home" that means a separate food production and storage area.
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
Reply
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
Reply
post #14 of 28
I've had ample opportunity to talk with health inspectors from many countries and many attitudes, but they all have one re-occuring theme: Probability and scope of a foodborne outbreak.

Now, take the place I moved into a few years back. Basically it was a dump, a 60 seat "Canadian/Chinese cusine" place. Before we took it over we had the health inspector look it over, I knew she wouldn't pass the place because:
1) The low temp d/w was clapped out, the sanitizer lines were corroded and leaking bleach, and there were mop strands in the filter basket
2) The only refrigeration was a 3 door "Kelvinator" unit with mold growing on the door tracks and the compressor whining like a helicoptor.
3) All of the lighting fixtures were naked, that is to say, bare bulb glass with no pretcitive lenses.
4) Handsink was rusted out and the laminate topped particle board counter it was set into could hold my finger impression
Etc, etc,

She passed it...

The logic being that even though it was a 60 seater, it probably didn't put out more than 40 meals a day. When I took over and invested mega bucks in new refrigeration, floors, cieling, and lighting fixtures, I got the royal treatment. The SAME insector didn't pass me the first time because my brand new high-temp Hobart D/W only hit 76 Celcius, not the required 77 Celcius for the rinse cycle. Her logic being that the D/W was my sole source of sanitzing cooking wares and that I was capable of over 500 meals a day.

Like BW says, if the inspectors see advertising, business cards, signage, they'll come after you with a vengence and a penchant to make you an "example".
Don't become one.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #15 of 28
Well you get away from the big towns..Texas gets way reasonable on health codes. We used to go to a bbq cookoff down at Cleburne..which aint too far from Cowtown..and you pay a extry 10 bucks on your entry fee and you good to vend for the weekend. They didnt inspect nothing. I do not believe a kindly Granny peddling cupcakes out of her kitchen would get anybody riled up..least at Cleburne..or Glen Rose or Itasca..blah blah blah. Now she move the operation to Foat Wuth..and some other kindly Granny drop the dime on her for cutting into the action..suspect the health goons be on her case muy rapido. Now speaking as one who has talked to some folks nabbed red handed in these type devious endeavors..they chew you out and tell you to get a permit next time. Wow..how could anybody stand that kind of chastisement huh?

bigwheel
post #16 of 28
Texas--interesting, but, whatever.....
What I do know, is that in Hoboken, NJ, and the vacinity, homebased food related businesses are a big no-no.
Towns in this area have strong ordinances against what they term a manufacturing facility in residential areas. My friend who builds bagpipes in his garage is getting some major hassle.
Add in the food for public consumption element and you've got major trouble. Best to get a seperate spot of your own or lease one. That way, you can actually leave work and go home at the end of the day.

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #17 of 28
Bigwheel-I'm 28 miles directly west of Cowtown, and the health inspectors are notorious in our town. You can't even have a charity bake sale in this town! I "bake for money" outta my house-part time, and only if I'm in the mood. I DO NOT advertise. I don't make cakes and pies for people I don't know. I tell people-"please don't tell anyone where you got this cake". I've really chewed a couple of people out, and will not bake for them any more. I have a handful of regular customers I like to deal with. Although, someone has been spreading my name around town, and I've gotten calls from total strangers, I tell them I just don't have time to bake for them. I'm trying real hard to keep away from the health inspectors. :eek:
Cheers,
texasflute
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Cheers,
texasflute
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post #18 of 28
Well sorry to hear them health goons is acting so naughty up there. That must be where they go when they run em off from N. Richland Hills. Had one of them little little busy bodies nearly shut down one of our chili cookoffs over there one time. We had to promise to not give out no free samples and that seemed to do the trick. Anyhow guess that be a purty good advertising strategy for them who dont wont to cook much. Now by contrast know a lady up here who been doing outlaw catering out of her home kitchen for 20 plust years and aint never had a lick of trouble. Word o mouth..bidness cards and flyers is her strategy. Caters each weekend she wants. Somebody want bbq..she got a 9' offset woodburner in her back yard. She dont come cheap..and she dont serve nothing but the finest ho made all the way down to the bread. Her theory is you can enter the field as a Chevy..cook often and cheap and make some good money..or you come in like a Lincoln Town Car where you dont cook as much but the money is about the same as on the other deal. Have you looked into the "Personal Chef" loophole. Heard several of the illegal bbq caterers has now turned into perfectly legal personal chefs. Maybe you could figger an angle like that on baked goods. Let them buy the ingredients and you charge them labor to cook it..or something like that. I will be trying to help think of some good idears on this deal.

bigwheel
post #19 of 28
NJ Cupcake,
I can't get into food laws as I am outside the US.
So let's talk ovens (back to your 1st post). If you need a baking oven, but don't have room for a bakers oven, you have a couple of choices.
Blueseal/Bakbar (do you have these over there?) make a convection oven which is ok of the money, they are basic which means less parts to fail. IF you are buying new they will last a long time, if you are buying 2nd hand beware of the ovens that spent their life cooking chickens!!
Alternatively - combi ovens are great, they have a reduced cooking time, however you need to select a model where you can modify the fan speed, because the older style ovens where the fan goes at one speed make your cupcakes look like they were baked during a tornado!!!
My personal choice (from experience) is the rational Self cooking center, it lets you pre-program the recipe cooking cycle, modify fan speed and humidity to ensure a consistent product.
My budget choice is a new blueseal/bakbar.
You will need a proper cake mixer as discussed previously - a kitchenaid would be to small and time consuming.

Hope this helps
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Leading the global ban on cup and spoon measurements in recipes!
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post #20 of 28
But that would be as a Public Nuisance!!

"Why are pipers always marching?"
"They're trying to get away from the noise..."

Sorry, couldn't resist... :)
(and I love pipe music...)
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It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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post #21 of 28
Persons cooking or baking out of their homes illegally are a public nuisance!! to some:D
We had one take a dive last weekend. Cake brought to a country club, someone near died choking on foil. I'm hearing she is getting wacked by the site, client, servers etc.. Lawyers tend to invite all the clowns to the party so they get more prizes.Can you immagine losing everything in life for a couple of bucks?
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #22 of 28
cupcake,
A couple of thoughts come to mind.
1. If you do not already have one, you need a solid, rational business plan. Most small biz fail due to under capitalization, and over expectations.
2. Get in touch with your local Sysco, or other Food Service company. They have folks in house who know what equipement you will need, and can source it for you.
3. Don't sell a single cupcake without liability insurance.
4. The health department is NOT the enemy. Work with them, and they will work with you. You and the inspector have the same goal; for you to run your foodservice biz and not make your customers sick.
5. It will take a LOT of hard, hard, did I mention HARD work? Long hours are just part of it.
6. Best of luck, and I wish you success. I too will buy your cupcakes.
post #23 of 28
:lips: Cupcake, I hope this will encourage you:

Last week I read an article in our newspaper about a gal who opened a cupcake store locally, and she is doing FANTASTIC!! Usually sells out before the day ends. She has many unusual flavors (such as cappuccino and pina colada, to just name a couple) and adds more as the customers suggest and she is able to do them. She started by herself and now has a number of employees. Businesses buy them as an alternative to donuts. Busy moms get them for their kids' treat days at school. She does special orders with custom decorating too ...birthday, baby shower, anniversary, retirement party...whatever. Seems to me that the possibilities might be endless. She does also make full size cakes on request for weddings or whatever, but the cupcakes are her main thing.
Her special thing is all made from scratch with fresh natural ingredients... no artificial flavors, etc. And she has done a great job of marketing her products so people know where she is, what she has etc.
She said in the article that she decided to try cupcakes because people wont always buy a whole cake ... its too much, or they know if they have it, they'll eat it all... whereas they will buy one or two cupcakes.
Also if they are trying to please a crowd, cupcakes offer something for everyone.
I have a good feeling about this for you. I hope you do well. :lips:
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #24 of 28

Hello

I am also fairly new to this site. The kitchenaid is good for a start. You could probably start. Well it all depends again on how much you are willing to bake. A 5 quart mixer may be suitable because you need not think about getting a bigger one for the near future atleast.
post #25 of 28
NJCup,

I work right in Weehawken and we take the trip over the bridge to hoboken. I think having some stuff for the passer by is definalty kei to success there. Alot of money in that area and alot of people visiting.

If you can you might want to looking into getting things like ovens, speed racks, mixers and etc.... all used. It will take some research but even go into a few places and ask them if they know a place you can get resturant equipment used.

ps if you open the place im sure we will hit you up a few times. Me and the rest of the guys in my IT department like to eat good around here.
post #26 of 28
Cupcake-
You have to get familiar with the equipment you want, then read the auction notices in your local papers. There are a LOT of auctions at restaurants than have failed, and if you know what you're doing you can get some good deals. Knowledge is essential, however, otherwise you can get defective stuff or the wrong things.

When I started my storage business I bought a new (small) forklift for about $3300. A year later when I needed a second one, I found one at a bankruptcy sale for $800. It just needed a cleaning and a coat of paint. Buth are still going strong.

But, pay attention to the advice about a business plan, proper licensing, and especially insurance.

Best of luck.

I'd order some, too, but I don't much like cupcakes. If you get into lowfat bran or carrot muffins, lemme know. :D

Good luck,

Mike :look:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #27 of 28
Hi...I'm a former pastry chef myself.

My dad is in the foodservice equipment/consulting business in NJ/NY; if you give him a call, he can tell you what you might need for an operation of that size and approximately what it will cost you.

His name is Jim Padakis, and his number is 908-470-2900.
post #28 of 28
When it comes to buying equipment for a start up:

First, when you buy, buy used.

Second, buy used.

Third, don't waste your money on new equipment that will lose half its value before you have a chance to turn it on. This can wait until later when you have an income to offset with accelerated depreciation. In the meantime, you have better uses for capital. Like buying flour.

Fourth, if there's any way you can lease or lease-option for a few months, do that. You'll have a better feel for what equipment you need.

I've never been in the cupcake business, and don't know how many different types of batters you need. If you think you'll need the flexibility of making lots of different types, rather than large quantities of a two or three batters, you're batter off with a few 6 or 7 qt mixers than with a 20. A KA 6 qt pro run a little over $100 used. A 20qt runs around $1000 used.

I'm not sure what the commercial setup is on cupcake/muffin pans, but I think the largest common size is 18 x 26 which would require a full size oven. The business is hurting. If you look around you can find new, full size, major brand, convection ovens -- electric or gas -- for less than $3,000. I imagine used are available for less than half.

My 2 cents,
BDL

PS Rots O'ruck
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