Products review before opening

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Thehappyone, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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    Hello all, I hope you are doing fine, I am working on an upcoming opening of food truck and the current phase is creating the menu. My goal is to provide amazing gourmet touch to the food, that's why I choose the following products which I'll use on a daily basis:

    Veggies:
    Spinach, Potatoes, Artichoke, Mushrooms, Avocado, Romaine Lettuce, Tomato, Eggplant, Onion, Green peppers, Garlic, Pickles, Cucumbers


    Cheese:
    Brie, Parmesan, Mozarella, Cream Cheese, American, Provolone, Cheddar, Feta


    Meats:
    Chicken breast, Ham, Crab, Pepperoni, Bacon, Beef patties, Steak

    I'll also have some Soda Drinks, breads(Italian, French, Sourdough, Wheat)
    Sauces:(Ketchup, Mayo, Ranch, Blue cheese, Spicy sauce), and ton of spices.


    I know the cheese and meats looks a lot, but keeping my menu with all that different choices will be the winning success over the competitors who are using half of those products providing limited menu items(4 to 6) which is keeping the crowd visiting them less frequently as if they had wider menu options. My plan is to shop once a week, store and cook the food at the commissary kitchen and just heat it up and assemble at the truck, this procedure will assure I am serving all in a timely manner.

    Any thoughts if the above plan sounds sustainable will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    So, what is the menu?
     
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  3. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    I"m with chefbuba. I see ingredients, but no menu. I'll state the obvious here. The menu is what the customer will read so they know what to order. Do you have that figured out yet or is that what you are asking advice about?
     
  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Before committing to an ingredients list, I would encourage you to check with your local health department and find out if there are any restrictions in terms of what you can make on your truck. Some health codes prohibit certain foods from being prepped or cooked on a food truck which means that if you want to offer those foods, you will have to rent a kitchen to make them.

    What menu items do you intend on serving?
     
  5. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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    Thank you all for the answers, the menu is created, basically is sandwich shop with simple sides as salad, fries, drinks.
    I'll not post the full menu because I have worked on very good product combinations, but the basics looks like the following: Chicken sandwich/burger(different ingredients), steak sub, crab sandwich, grilled cheese, and veggie sandwich - 2 types. My question is how does it look to you managing, shopping and cooking such a quantity as all of the products above. I mean restaurant needs big menu because of its volume, but food trucks must provide limited menu because of its space, structure and scheme of actions and everywhere I watch food trucks are providing two types of meat max and few veggie options. There must be a reason for that. Do you think expanding the menu and including more variety will bring more profit or is it going to fail the business?
     
  6. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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    sgsvirgil, thank you for the input, that's a good point, my initial idea is to cook at the commissary kitchen and then just heat and assemble the products at the truck. I'll cook on the truck only when I am running out of food, so definitely I'll check the local health department.
     
  7. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    First, restaurant's don't need a big menu. They have them because they try to make everyone happy. They then have to have to invest lots of money in lots of ingredients and lots of storage for many ingredients they may not sell fast. Many restaurants could use a smaller menu.
    Second, you've already answered your own question. Food trucks offer a smaller menu because of size limitations. That's just the nature of a food truck.
    You could offer different sandwiches on different days, if you really want to offer variety. So a protein like chicken served as two or three choices one day and a steak sandwich with two or three presentations another day.
    From the size of your ingredient list, if you sold all of that at the same time, you would need a truck the size of an eighteen wheeler. And some items will always be more popular than others so you would always have unused food you can't resell but cost you money.
    Good food trucks focus on doing a few things really well. Better to start with a limited menu done well and then expand if you find you can do so without sacrificing quality.
     
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  8. jimyra

    jimyra

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    What is the food cost on your crab sandwich? What does it sell for? Do you have a business plan?
     
  9. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    @chefwriter is spot on.
    Successful truck owners build their businesses by doing a few things very well.
    Some have menus that are so addictive that their followers will drive miles out of their way just to get to that day's location.
    My best advice is to scrap that par list and start creating something different from what is being offered at nearly every brick and mortar place in town.
    Why would someone stand in the rain for a sandwich when they can go to Subway where the room is climate controlled PLUS they have bathrooms handy to wash up before they eat?

    Do you have any F&B experience (773 means nothing to me) and lastly....did you write a business plan?

    mimi
     
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  10. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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    That's a great idea chefwriter and I tought about that, but basically the meat I am using can be re-used daily just after taking out of the fridge - meat like the ham, crab, pepperoni, bacon - this mean I can sell this every single day.
    The only meat that have to be grilled every morning is the chicken and the steak as you mentioned, but I believe after the first two weeks I will know how much steak approx I can sell, and I couldn't see a problem to place few pounds steak on the grill along with the chicken, why loosing potential earnings from all steak eater lovers? The margins is well worth it compared to potential loses of tossing food away. In the beginning a lot of food will go in the garbage for sure but this is the cost of doing business.

    As to jimyra questions - I have business plan in place with few gaps still awaiting review and one of them is considering the cost of the sandwich alone and calculate the products use and price.
    I've extensive experience in the F&B, being through all positions - dish washer, busser, server, bartender, cook and chef. The only thing I am not very familiar is how to cook crab and I know it's expensive and could make me troubles in financial run, so I just picked it to make my menu look more gourmet style. After calculating the cost I could easily remove it and concentrate on different cheaper seafood product or completely get rid of the item. As we all know the menu will change in time and the appropriate changes will be made. Since my idea started about an year ago - I've changed the menu items multiply times and every time the are looking more better and delicious.

    Flipflopgirl, the menu itself is different than what it's out there with the way of cooking and ingredient combination I am using, just not feel comfartable of posting it here at that stage.

    I'm trying to change the Exp. from my profile but can't see from where.

    Thank you all again for the time taking to write in this forum!
     
  11. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Where are you located, this might help us with some of your problems.
    Also how big is your truck and what type of equipment will you have?
     
  12. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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  13. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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    Will purchase medium sized used truck with standard equipment including stove, grill, two fryers, pans for heating or cold food, fridges + generator of course. I can later decide to add up some kind of panini grill or similar professional kitchen toy.
     
  14. cronker

    cronker

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    I’d be very cautious of crab. Not only is it expensive, but it doesn’t have a great shelf life.
    If it’s for sandwiches, perhaps look at pickling it - it’s yum and will give you a bit longer life.
     
  15. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Don't take this as an insult, but you are nowhere near ready to open a food truck or any other food venture. You need to borrow the money to open this thing, The way that you describe food, the equipment equipment, your super secret menu of sandwiches and sides loosely based around ham, bacon, pepperoni and crab, but you don't know how to cook crab but added it to make the menu look fancy.

    Save your money, go work for a food truck for a year, see if you can hack it.
    It's not all glamorous like the food network makes it out to be. It's a lot of ball breaking work. Ask me how I know.
     
  16. cronker

    cronker

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    I tend to agree with Buba here.
    Cooking crab is not rocket surgery, and your ingredient list looks highly expensive if you don’t have a wastage percentage built in.
    I, personally,would not eat a crab sandwich if I knew the ingredients were two or three days old.
     
  17. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    No. This is the cost of starting a business poorly without proper planning. You don't waste money on throwing food in the garbage.
    Here's an extreme example. You open a food truck selling hamburgers only to find out all the customers in your location are vegetarians. You throw all the burgers away.
    Was that part of the learning process? Was it a legitimate business expense?
    No. That was not smart. You should have researched your customers first to find out what they like to eat. Poor planning results in poor performance.
    Here's a second example.
    You research your customers and have calculated how much money you need to get the business started. You find out they all like chicken sandwiches. You can manufacture one chicken sandwich every three minutes. Then you need to take the money and give change before making the next sandwich. This takes two minutes. Therefore each sandwich takes five minutes. So if you can do this fast enough, you can make twenty sandwiches per hour.
    You have a two hour lunch period. So the most you can serve is forty sandwiches. Each sandwich earns you a dollar over your cost. So every lunch period, if you sell all forty sandwiches, you make forty dollars above your costs.
    Then you find that if you buy a bigger grill, you can serve the sandwiches twice as fast, so you would be able to make and sell 80 chicken sandwiches in two hours. But the grill costs $1500. Is buying the grill the right move?
    You should recognize by now that this food truck business plan is all Math. How much will ALL your ingredients cost you? How many items can you reasonably sell in how much time? How much profit will you make on each item?
    How much of the money you spent on food is going to be lost because no one is buying it?
    All of these questions and many more should be answered BEFORE you open a food truck. Do the math first.
     
  18. capecodchef

    capecodchef

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    I'll apologize in advance also, but this has FAILURE written all over it in capital letters. Your budget is barely sufficient for a decent trailer. You'll need almost twice that for a truck. And there's no such thing as "standard" equipment for a truck. They are typically outfitted specifically for the menu of the operator. You need several thousand more to customize any used truck you find for your own menu. Then add tens of thousands more for, permits, insurances, commissary rent (first, last, security), food, paper goods, condiments, supplies, pots, pans, signage, truck wrap and paint job, marketing, etc, etc, etc, and at LEAST 2-3 months working capital. Anything less and you'll be out of business within 6 mos. You'll need at least $100k. Anything less and you're sure to fail. Chicago? What will you do to sustain yourself the 4-6 months of impossible weather for a truck business?

    The best advice here has already been given. Work for some one else's food truck to see what's involved, before you jump into something you're clearly not equipped to handle. Good luck.
     
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  19. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    There is some excellent advice in here. Take the criticism positively and understand that you and your business model are far from ready.

    For example, you want to offer crab on your truck to make it seem "more gourmet." But, despite working in every position from dish washer to chef, you don't know how to cook crab. Then, you are of the mindset that items like steak and crab have large profit margins. They do not. At best, their margins are paper thin. In the context of a food truck, they would be even thinner.

    One or two specific ingredients do not make a menu "gourmet." The expertise and quality of ingredients used and how well its presented makes it "gourmet." Tacos can be "gourmet." Deep fried fish sticks can be "gourmet."

    Someone suggested working on a food truck before you get into this. That's a fantastic idea and I whole heartedly encourage you to do that. Work on a few trucks. Learn the business. Figure out a good and simple menu. Don't worry about "gourmet." Gourmet and food trucks are only found in Hollywood movies. Focus on your food. It has to be every bit as good as the competition, if not better. That is the heart of your business model.

    Good luck! :)
     
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  20. Thehappyone

    Thehappyone

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    Thank you all for the great advice, I don't think to start with 50k but just to buy the truck for that much, of course loan will be taken so I am saving for down payment. I've seen ready to go trucks for 50k, the new ones go above 100 so I'll look for a used one, ideally truck already being in the scene of Chicago, this will guarantee it passed the city inspections and regulations with the size of the fryers and so on, starting building a custom kitchen in truck from scratch will be too expensive. I am aware of most of the expenses involved and 100k is the minimum I'll consider as a starting capital.
    Not able to cook a crab was a kind of joke, of course I can learn how to do it in a nickel of time, I wasn't sure how profitable that item would be, I mentioned the menu stage is on place so removing the crab could be more easily as you would think.


    I optimized the menu and the main ingredient list currently looks like that below, now can this amount be handled by a 16 ft food truck? Looking forward to optimize the speed of sandwich making and the simplicity of ingredients to make it possible to serve between 60-100 meals per day.

    Veggies:
    Spinach, Potatoes, Mushrooms, Romaine Lettuce, Tomato, Eggplant, Onion, Green peppers, Garlic, Pickles, Cucumbers


    Cheese:
    Brie, Parmesan, Mozarella, Provolone, Cheddar, Feta


    Meats:
    Chicken breast, Bacon, Beef patties, Steak, Ham


    As for the weather - people don't mind still ordering food outside on 0 degrees, food trucks are still operating everywhere with slightly less profit definitely but a little price increase might cover the difference. Well I talked to multiple people in the food truck areas and some complaining of the high prices. Understandable - to keep the food truck running you need higher margins on the sandwich, so my priority is to determine the price what people like to pay for their lunch in contrast with my cost/expenses and trying not to go over competitor prices.
    Someone above mentioned having experience with that and about the hard work and 16 hour shifts, I am aware of that and I would really love to get involved into despite the above statement which I know is true.
    I've been long enough in the kitchen to know what is going on, what can i learn if I do work on a food truck - how to cook, how to drive, or how to calculate food cost? I find more valuable to learn from books/internet and from people being through that, from one forum like this for example I can get tens of different opinion from this industry folks. Working on a food truck I can watch and learn from a guy who will likely get out of the business in the next year due to proper managing.
    Also I agree that I am not ready yet, I need at least 1 more year to finish all the details from the plan.