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I Need Help!!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I am looking for advice on starting a mobile lunch/catering service in South Carolina. Right now I am still in the research stage but I plan to put everything into motion by 9-1-07. I have $8,000 and would like to know if buying a used delivery truck and having it custom made into a mobile kitchen or buying a truck already made to fit my needs, would be less expensive. Also, anyone who could offer info on trucks for sale would be greatly appreciated.

I have been doing alot of research, but information is very hard to find on my specific area. (Florence, SC) I have seen three mobile units in my city. Two of them sell pre-packaged sandwhiches and the other only sells sweets. I will be selling made to order hot dogs, hamburgers and will also offer a "regular" menu for each day of the week. I also plan to offer salads and cold sandwhiches. I know this may sound like alot for an area that I said only had three other like businesses but the potential is definitely here. Our city is growing very rapidly and there is a need for this service. I don't think that the other businesses will be of any threat simply because I have visited all three and both of the trucks that sell pre-packaged sandwhiches were terrible. (Product & unit) I can't see how either are still in business. The unit that sells sweets is a nice unit but it doesn't serve to my targeted customers.


I plan to start with the BARE essentials. Anyone with any suggestions on how I can do this with the funds that I have available please advise. I want everything to be legit and by the book but as cost effective as humanly possible. Thanks again in advance!
post #2 of 12
We can't help you with this, anyway not yet. But here is how I would go about it.

I'm not clear on the size of the truck; is it a van body or smaller that you have in mind?

Define the type of and then estimate the cost of the equipment you will need and get prices for the installation. This cost should could then be used for your comparisons. The truck "skeleton" should be close to the same if it is on a new or used truck chassis, so you can compare the cost of many used trucks, with the kitchen installed.

You can then compare that cost to what is available for new.

If you are thinking very large, there maybe some commercial driving license requirements.
post #3 of 12
One of the things I would check out for CERTAIN before buying anything would be to do your market research. Be sure to evaluate your "threats" or "threats for success". A threat could be anything from a local code about mobile kitchens and special licenses to competition for the available market to the size of the particular market.

A real thing to consider is if you plan on doing a lunch business to construction sites and businesses, that existing vendors there do not look kindly on a new truck muscleing into their turf. I don't know if this is local legend or not but in some areas, the food trucks are kinda "controlled" (as in by "bosses") if you get my drift?

Just make sure you have enough market to support you. Be sure to evaluate festivals and fairs as part of your potential markets.

Good luck!
post #4 of 12
8 grand ain't gonna do it......high end catering truck will run you
over 100 grand, the kind that plugs into a 220......my best advice
is to look at some of the BBQ operations....there are a lot of guys
out there that work with an open flatbed trailer that will usually have
to large grills, a candy stove or larger propane burner or two, a worktable,
a handsink and vegetable sink, and some lighting......Don't worry to much
about the mob in South Carolina, as they have never become fully integrated
in the south......my advice, be extremely nice to the health inspector....
truth be told, I would try and have about 60 or 70 grand behind me for the
simplest operation....don't forget about liability insurance, business licence,
etc. Start out simple and build from there.....its kinda like getting a CO on
a small simple kitchen....you get the CO, then start adding things....good luck.
I hope this finds you well....
post #5 of 12
E S is right a good unit is expensive. Now a BBQ unit not so much but you get a market you can build on. I have 2 construction company's that we cater to, I pull into site a about 11 my pit is ready to grill by 11:30 they start rolling in about 11:40. Burgers Dogs and all the fixins and a drink. 50-60 workers and I bill out a flat fee to the company ($650). The company's love it because its all you can eat the workers love it because its all you can eat the catch is they rarely eat much because they are all standing around shootin the breeze and they have to be back to work by 12:30. I do it once a month and I know that aint enough to pay the bills for most people but I turn down at least 1 a week so if your lookin for low cost and something that you can grow and only have 8 grand to start E S has good advise.
Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Fstfrdy

I think I'll do just that!! As a matter of fact, I think I'll start researching that right now! Thanks again, you guys are really blowing my mind!
post #7 of 12
Neciey, Sounds like you are getting a plan. I would be happy to give you some ideas, and food for thought... since we are "neighbors" We often use our "BBQ Pit" for a portable oven as well..works great. Feel free to im me and I will give ya my email addy.
Scott B
MISC

As far as the Kitchen goes, it is a long, long day that is never really over, you just go home at some point
Reply
Scott B
MISC

As far as the Kitchen goes, it is a long, long day that is never really over, you just go home at some point
Reply
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Good News!!!

Hello everyone! I have what I'm hoping you all will confirm as good news. This week I found a place that sells old bread delivery trucks and truck parts. There were about 7 of them on the lot and none were priced over $1200! Now, these trucks are in "running condition" but that is about it. A few do have shelves in them but all others are empty. I will have to find someone who will be able to turn it into a catering truck. That's where I'm going to need all of you guys' help again! So, PLEASE, if anyone can offer any advice on where I should start my research or where I could find cheap used equipment, etc. I will be vey grateful. Thanks again in advance!!!!!
post #9 of 12
JUst a thought but I have purchased almost all my equipment on E-Bay. I look locally or with in a resonable drive. Over the years I have purchased everything from table ware to my main cooker that is a money maker to the max. Any questions feel free to IM me.

Cheers fstfrdy
Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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Kill a cow...Light a fire.....The Magic begins
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post #10 of 12
I opened a seasonal bbq shack this summer and the biggest headache was the health dept. and the city. They have different rules for portable kitchens than stationary ones. Good luck
"Can't stand the heat call JJ"S Kitchen"

JJ's (Almost Famous BBQ)
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"Can't stand the heat call JJ"S Kitchen"

JJ's (Almost Famous BBQ)
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post #11 of 12
Yeah, rules and regulations can hamper your ideas! Here in Miami we cannot park a mobile food service truck on our personal property or city streets. We have to park them in special lots. ( like the NYC hot dog carts..lol ) and all your food has to be prepared in a legal kitchen. Nothing for sale can be made at home here.
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #12 of 12
I'm reading this a little late in the game, but if you can get a copy of Carnival News ( or Carnival Times, I can't remember which) or other publications that cater to the carnival industry, they can be a great source. Carnies sell their food set ups about every 3-4 years because the warranties start to expire and they have a lot of miles on them. You can get just about anything you want already set up for a reasonable amount. You won't have the same concerns as they do because you are using it locally. Once their warranties expire, they can have a lot of trouble getting things fixed in a timely manner because they're always on the road. I actually looked into doing this some years ago, and there was a man in my town who was a retired carnie that had a business setting up food wagons for people. He was the one who told me about the ads in publications for carnivals. Unfortunately, he's dead now or I would refer you to him.
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