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Getting started--advice on getting a kitchen....

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I have been desiring getting into owning my own catering gig for a while now.  I have a concept pounded out that would sell very well locally, a name, a scouted crew, a menu, seasonal sales concepts, sales leads, and pricing (for the most part anyway).  The only thing I need is a $$$$ kitchen and storage $$$$ I am getting tired of being dependent on others, and want to be relatively in charge of my own salary, and my own business. I would feel so much more motivated and impassioned if I had so much more control in my own hands, creating what I like to create, on a schedule that I can make for myself.

 

The situation:

I want to get started and ramped up in this without taking too much of a hit financially... if any food service profession enables this, catering of any sort is the best you can get.  As such, until I get established with some nice profit in the bank and credit built up, I was considering renting kitchens out as needed.  This is not unheard of...

 

However....
Currently, I work as a breakfast and pastry chef for a small, local restaurant that just opened their doors over the past year.  Its been(somewhat) paying my bills. It is within walking distance from my house, I am the state cert fsm in the place, a key-holder, and I have a very good rapport built with the owners. I would like to continue to work there, doing what I do, as I ramp up my own business.  They, too, want to do catering, but don't have a solid menu or pricing, nor is their big-city concept in line with what locals look for(nor are they quite ready to understand the locals).  Its something they plan on tacking on later on, as they get more established in the community.

I would like to maintain a good relationship with them. Seeing as how some of our goals are somewhat parallel, I was wondering if it would be possible to team up in a way that would be mutually beneficial to both of us. Have them sell my services with a % commission to cover utilities and storage and help them stay on their feet as they try to get on solid ground.  I would want to work independently, under my own name, with my own menu, using their kitchen and storage.

 

My questions....

Yes, anything is possible, but is this feasible? Can it be mutually beneficial without me getting completely raped on commission? What would be a decent commission to negotiate for something such as that? What if, a few years down the road, my business is super-successful and I want to open a restaurant of my own based on the concept? What then?  I suppose I could still commission out to them... What if down the road they finally grow to the point where they want to do their own catering with their own menu, with or without my help? We would be in direct competition, and that just spells all sorts of bad... :/ 

 

...eh, I guess the later are bridges we can cross when we come to them, but any help on the former would be appreciated :) I want it to be enough of a % of the gross profit to satisfy their need, but not too much so as to eliminate it being a worthwhile venture for me.

Thanks!

-Deb

post #2 of 2

The questions you ask are all valid topics for discussion with the owners of the place you work. Open, frank discussion is the best way to approach it. They may  have ideas and suggestions you can both agree on. 

If you can separate your catering business from their in house business/catering by developing two menus/styles, then there will not be any competition when or if you open your own place. Most important is the discussion you have laying out everyone's concerns and expectations.

I always say it is best to state the obvious so everyone knows what we all thought was obvious. Too often it isn't obvious. 

You could do their catering at your current wage as part of their business. Then clock out and use their kitchen for your catering with percentage or straight daily or hourly rate for the use of their kitchen.

What happens down the road is really not as relevant as how you approach things now. The future is completely uncertain for both of you. They may close, you may quit. But if you really have a good rapport with them and work to keep it, everything will work out.

Check other previous posts here about catering. There are alot of other issues to consider like liability, sales taxes, equipment purchases/rentals.

As a last note about competition, you stated that they seem more big city minded, not inclined to pursue the more casual local clientele. So that will help define who does what later. But first you talk.  And if for some reason you can not have an open, clear communication with them about this, then find some other place to do it. 

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