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How much money need to start a catering business?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Is that possible to start organic and environmental friendly catering? How much would cost if I start as a small (around roughly) , I might rent commercial kitchen and work mostly my self with an assistance (part time)?  Not sure if I can start with couple of thousand and what are the things to consider?

post #2 of 10

It's kind of a hard question to answer, honesty. With just the basics that you have provided, it's REALLY hard to say.

 

Besides organic, and eco friendly(most kitchens are now days), what are you looking to do? What kind of catering, what LEVEL of cooking? Simple lunch/sandwich/salad platters fro corp lunches, hot foods: Breakfast, lunch, dinner? Receptions? I think it would help if you provide a little more info, as there is a LOT to consider, and to take into account.

 

"CAN" you, sure, why the hell not, thousands have before you. I can offer this: even working out of your kitchen, a couple thousand is a flash in the bucket. If you are going to go all organic, and eco friendly(meaning that even your disposables(Napkins, catering trays, boxes for box lunches, biodegradable green "plastic" ware, cups, hot cup sleeves, etc) have to be green, the couple of thousand can be spent just in getting a little inventory over your head before you even sell a thing.

 

Do you have a business model besides "Organic and Eco Friendly"? What clientele are you looking to attract? Does your area support it/is there a market for it? DO you know what local commercial kitchen space goes for in your area? DO you HAVE a helper/someone willing to offer some free time in times of need, or, will you use people on an "as needed" basis?

 

If you want to provide more info, it would be a lot easier to guess-timate a number, even then it's not carved in stone.

~If you are what you eat, I am cheap, fast, and easy.

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~If you are what you eat, I am cheap, fast, and easy.

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post #3 of 10

^^^^^^^^^^^^^+1

 

Your going to spend that on licenses, permits and insurance. $2000 goes nowhere these days. You need equipment, inventory, smallwares, disposables, cleaning supplies.

 

Who is your audience? Do you have paying customers? Or do your friends tell you that you should become a caterer because you have brought Nana's recipe potato salad to their back yard bbq a couple of times?

post #4 of 10

Depends on what class of catering you want. As Bubba points out licenses, permits and insurance is high , unless you want to be a Gypsy Caterer (out of your  house)  Rentals and purchase of equipment is high. Rental of kitchen or equiping same is high. A small van or truck to do delivery.Advertising,

     All of this adds up .also keep in mind you do not get fully paid till after the party, so you have to have the $ to buy food and labor has to be paid.. Some clients take 30 days to pay you. I would give a conservative estimate of a minimum of 20 to 25000.00 to do it  small but correctly.  That is in a good location in or near a good size population to draw from both private and corporate.Good Luck to you The days of starting with 2 or $300.00  out of your garage is over.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #5 of 10

The answer is yes, it can be done. Whats nice about catering is, you can rent whats needed and pass the cost along to the customer. You will need a commissary, and in most cases you will need pots, pans, Roasting pans. This can be done, by renting in the beginning, then buy as you go to build your own inventory of Chaffing dishes and warmers. I started this way many years ago, my clients wanted me to cater, cost wasn't a factor. Doing a catering this way will cost the client more in the long run, be good at what you do, make people want you, be in demand. I also did a lot of on site cooking with Hot Wok demo cooking, Omelet bars for breakfast and so on..........Let me know if I can help..................Take care...............Bill

post #6 of 10

Any customer who takes 30 days to pay me is filed under EX. But there can be delays yes, and it has to be allowed for.

Ive gone over these numbers many times, and it always comes out to about 3 grand needed to start an event catering operation.

It's like planning a  wedding--figger your price to the tee....then double it. You'll be glad you did.

 

If you MUST rent everything in the beginning, Ive found you can only write "so much" of that into the price... the rest just reduces

you profit, which can be like, nada in the beginning. Thats why its important to have some parties lined up before you start

really spending--fill the pipeline as much as possible.

 

 

Quote:

Or do your friends tell you that you should become a caterer because you have brought Nana's recipe potato salad to their back yard bbq a couple of times?

 Chefbuba has a very good point here, too many people do home or get-together cooking, and decide to "live their dream"

of being a "professional" caterer, without having a clue what that business entails--from licensing to liability to just delivering

the product, safely and on-time,  and getting paid enough to not lose your (insert suitable) with every event.

So, you a home cook, or do you have any pro-industry experience?

At the very least I think a person should work for a caterer for at least say, 20 or 30 events before even considering the endeavor.

Or if thats not possible, at least wait until having attended a few dozen catered affairs, at which you've asked the caterers a LOT

of questions while watching what theyre doing.

post #7 of 10

When you do VOLUME corporate catering, within 30 days is good .(as you are treated like all their accounts payable)

      I already add the cost of laying my $ out for the 30 days, its all in my price. 2% per month average. 

  I started in the 60s and it grew into a 17 million  dollar per year operation, and was the biggest on premise caterer in the US averaging 10,000 covers a week.. PS  I did not start in my garage and I started with a hell of a lot more then 3000.00 . To make big money, you have to spend big money.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #8 of 10

Points taken ChefEd, and reputable corporate clients would be an exception, namely because theyre

more likely to PAY. lol I only did a few corp events, but they paid and worked out well. Most of mine were

private parties, church groups, small work parties, and LOTS of school faculty/parent night and sports events.

And with schools, since they tend to run over budget often as it is, well lets say they'll make you wait til

the end of the fiscal YEAR if you let them. :-o

 

 

Quote:

I started in the 60s and it grew into a 17 million dollar per year operation, and was the biggest on premise caterer in the US averaging 10,000 covers a week..

Um.....wow. Definately propagated some extra staffing along the line no doubt. :-p That's impressive Chef. And to quote Will Smith....

 

 

Quote:

THAT'S what I'M talkin 'bout!!

But obviously a lot of work and presssure as well.

 

 

Quote:

 I did not start in my garage and I started with a hell of a lot more then 3000.00 . To make big money, you have to spend big money.

Again, point taken, I may as well elaborate: My figure was based on fairly simple start-out type events, ie, BBQs,

hordurveez,etc, buffet-type service,either cook on job site or commisary rent and transport, but wouldnt include transport vehicle/trailer, or buying much $$$ equipment at first, and finding economy chaffers and the like.

However a more realistic figure for me in LA county would prob be 5K or so. But I could shoestring it on  3 grandish.

But prob wouldnt attempt it without having at least 4 or 5 solids lined and booked. But with 8 or 10 grand in the kitty I could boot it up and light it off!

And while it's nice to open your doors with oodles of capital, of course the big money can be a progression of business growth.

Problem is most people try to live off the business too soon, and lack the discipline to reinvest in expansion.

As I know you well know. chef.gif

post #9 of 10

I was a bit lucky. In the 60 s the banks gave loans. Higher interest but they did give them. Today no way in particular food service outlets(Bad Risk)

 

I would imagine L.A. is like N.Y  with a real mixed clientel  ,but a lot of upscale clients in there. Most of them in N.Y paid anything as long as it was top shelf and it could out=do their friends party   .(Keeping up with or topping the Jones's)

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #10 of 10

yep very much so down here, and your take on the outdoing thier friends' to-do last saturday is right on!

i cook out of high end banquet room at a playhouse theatre so im around those prestige-hungry types all time. im personally in suburban between countys, but  if one is willling to be based or operate downtown area there is good $$ to be made, including in entertainment, should one be the masochistic type. ah well someday...

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