Hey everyone, good things to think about! That’s why I brought the question to y’all… your experience helps!
I do want to do it legit, so here’s my plan – please shoot holes in it where possible:
I’ll work the event with 1 helper. I will borrow a turkey fryer for the event but will not cook dogs in it. It will be only to boil water and become a reserve of preheated water to refill my pans with. I will run 3 1/3 pans on the cart, 15 dogs per pan. I’ll move consecutively from pan-to-pan and each time the pan is empty I’ll dump 15 more dogs in to start heating. That gives me 45 dogs per cycle of pans. I will also explain the hurdles to the event coordinators and urge them to go with the 8:1 size dogs to ensure I can keep up.
My biggest concern was the water cooling down too much by adding 15 dogs to a pan every 10 minutes or so, which is where the turkey fryer comes in. When my water temp drops I’ll top it off with fresh boiling water. If the temp drops too much I’ll dump most of the water into a bucket and refill with boiling water. This will (hopefully) keep my steam table running hot enough to keep up with demand.
As to the schedule of people, the event runs for only two hours and is a “help yourself” format. They expect a rush in the first 30 minutes as word gets out that there are free hot dogs on campus, but they really don’t know how many people to expect. The original quote was for 200, then they upped it to 400 to make sure they had enough. I’ll go over the logistical concerns with the planners so they’re aware and then just turn-to and serve as many hungry college students as I can.
FoodBMe – you’re right, I do over analyze everything. It drives my girlfriend nuts. haha
RJT, CCinNJ – thanks for the heads up on the HD – that’s exactly the kind of concerns I was having. Last thing I want to do is get shut down right in the middle of my college’s big event. That’d be embarrassing for me and them, not to mention the damage to my business!
Thanks again everyone!
Great job! I am sure this will be your first of many events!
Best wishes for smooth slinging!
You are handling it well![8D]
Hey, Son, us folk are here to help you, we love it…..
The 3 pan idea can work..but, couldn’t you put 32 dogs in each one?
Dogs don’t need to be boiled, just brought up to 135 deg.
I’m thinking this is a free hotdog thing, just for showing up you get a weenie.
Get a roll of those “raffle ticket” things. They drop the ticket in a jar, grab a tissue. you put a dog in it and point them to the “Condiment Bar”…..
Even if they say “Catsup & Mustard”……you can put out relish and other things at your expense. This is your introduction into the community.
And what about drinks? And chips? Lotsta profit just laying there.
Have’to say this……..A Hot Dog with just Mustard and Catsup is , what , an appetizer?……..Is there an option to upsell your product?
Thanks for the great advice, everyone!
I put my bid in for the event. I underbid it a little, but I still expect to make a profit, plus I really want to get this as my first event and get practice with it. Here is what I went with (I gave them two options):
$1.50/dog for “1/8th lb all beef frank” with B&C 8:1. I’m paying .27 meat + .29 bread + .10 condiments/paper = .66/dog. $600 gross less $264 COGS = $336. If I pay a friend $40 to work the event with me, I’m still getting right at $300 for the event. Any overage to be billed at $2/dog.
$2.00/dog with “1/4 lb Nathan’s Famous” 4:1. I’m paying .63 meat + .20 bread + .10 = .93/dog. $800 gross less $372 COGS = $428. Less $40 for help, and I’m still near $400. Any overage to be billed at $2.50/dog.
I know this is a gross oversimplification, but if anyone sees any flaws in my logic, please let me know! I am also aware that my bread cost is out of line on the B&C option – that’s a straight 8pk of bread from Sam’s Club off the rack. The lower bread price is the bun that matches the Nathan’s dog (also from Sam’s, ironically). I’ll find a better price for my bread before the event, but these are the numbers I had at hand to work so far.
I also plan to heed everyone’s advice – especially with the turkey fryer idea. Probably won’t use a chafing dish (as I agree with the “slinging” as part of the show), and will either steam the buns if it’s sunny or let ’em go if not. Condiments will be on a separate table.
She seemed very pleased with everything I described to her, and didn’t balk at the price at all… she also mentioned possibilities of future events at the school (sporting events, homecoming, etc). After seeing how this goes, I may need to adjust the price in the future.
You guys have been a great help! Thanks a lot! Any more advice is definitely welcome, too. haha
Mikejames, they are 6″ pans, and I’m sure they could hold more dogs, but one of my concerns is the drop in the water temperature when I’m placing cold dogs in the water every 10 to 12 minutes, or so. I don’t know if the steam table could keep up with that kind of turnover, and I don’t want to run through a case of dogs testing it beforehand. haha
And thanks for the suggestion on the roaster! That’s what I’m planning to use the turkey fryer for – to give me some extra support… either by cooking up dogs (and then transferring them to the steam table to serve from) or just keeping boiling water on hand to add to my pans when the water temp gets too low.
I did have another idea today… what if I were to pick up a full sized perf pan (4″ deep)? I could load up 100 dogs in that at a time and steam the heck outta them. I could steam the first 100 before the event starts, and then as I pull left-to-right from the pan, I’m constantly replacing. I’m not sure how long it would take to steam that many dogs, though – any input anyone? Is that a lost cause? (on a side note, if I really wanted to steam the buns, I could use that for the buns and the turkey fryer for the dogs and have a nicer product!).
By the way – for what it’s worth, one of my big interests is doing events and shows. I’m not trying to over-complicate this specific event, but rather use it as a learning tool to discover different ways to set up my rig to handle more volume… 🙂 I appreciate all the suggestions, criticism, and heads-up’s that I’ve received so far.
Do not invest what could be in the $150 – $200 range of profit for equipment to run this gig. Unless you have a plan to do crab boils or turkey frys at home. It only take one person at a public event to have you shut down in a heartbeat. It does not have to be a DOH official. Police officer…firemen…city county or state this or that worker. Any person who has an understanding or has researched the industry and understands that it is against the rules. You also have to go back to school on Monday morning. Not just any school…this school.
Open house at a college can be a little more staggered vs. a new student orientation. Explain your concerns to the organizers and see if they have a solution to the timing as far as traffic all at once. If they want you to do the event and understand the limitations and obstacles you face…they will do their best to try to work with you…or at least understand that you want what is best for all concerned. They will make a decision before it happens…with no hard feelings or distasters.
What about using a large electric roaster along with your 3 1/3 steam pans on your cart. That would heat and hold a lot of dogs. If you don’t own one, you maybe able to barrow one.
If your 1/3 size pans are 6″ deep I would think each pan would hold more then 15 dogs at once.
Good news! I spoke with my local HD and they told me that since I won’t be selling individual hot dogs to consumers, this would fall under the general food safety rules (i.e. catering) and not under pushcart rules. He suggested that I could pre-heat all of the dogs at the commissary and then transport them to the site in a suitable container; although he understood the desire to actually prepare the dogs on location as part of the show, so he said a turkey fryer would be fine as long as the food is being safely handled and prepared. He did reiterate that if I were to be selling the dogs individually that it would then revert back to pushcart rules.
I have a meeting with another health inspector tomorrow to actually permit my cart and will reiterate with him as well to ensure that they are all on the same page and that there are no nasty surprises later.
Could the Regs in Asheville be different than Winston Salem?
NO ,all the same….
If you do this event:
Do not steam buns, buy fresh that day. Make sure you have your supplier hold you an order of buns needed. If you buy from Sams and they have those buns I use (Country Hearth) they do not need steam.
Run one pan to hold cooked dogs and one with water boiling alll the time to keep dogs cooked. Better to use pump style mustard and ketchup. If not I would make sure I have plenty of squirt bottles full and on hand. You DO NOT want to be filling bottles when you are in the middle of a rush. Take more than you think you will need, it is not good to run out of anything.
One person to the left opens buns and puts them on trays, middle person (at the steam table) places dog in bun, person to right puts on mustard and ketchup and hands off the dog to customer. Three people works best for this but two could do it with a little extra work…..
Could the Regs in Asheville be different than Winston Salem?
You’re not cooking dogs. They’re already cooked. Just heating them up.
As I suggested, I wouldn’t even try to use a cart for this event with the number of people and the time element he’s dealing with. Just use the cart for “Show”
I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t think it would be a big issue for an event like this.
The turkey fryer is a ok option if you are looking for capacity. FYI, you will be in violation of health dept regulation by using it. Will you get caught? Probably not but in violation none the less. Everything is supposed to be cook and prepared off the cart when it comes to serving hot dogs for a paid event. This means no crock pots, self serve condiment, extra cookers for capacity, etc. NC rules state that a push cart can not be used for self service. This includes pre fixed hot dogs (dog in bun) in warming trays, condiment stations, etc. that a person would pick up and do them self. You have to fix each order and hand them the dog.
With that said, you are brand new at this and probably should not have “jumped in” to a job this large to start. This type event is tough on any cart much less a small capacity one and with someone brand new. I would rather hold off bidding something like this rather than make a bad impression. When people have to wait any length for food they dont like it. Even with my experience I would think twice about doing this type of job. I have feed a crowd over 1000 at my bar setup but they just come and go as they were hungry through out a 5 hour period. Feeding 400 at once where they are expecting to all eat at a certain time is tough off a hot dog cart of any size. If it is going to be a all day event with people eating at different times as the day passes then that would not be to bad to pull off with enough help and staying on top of keeping dogs cooked, condiments filled, etc.
I am not giving you a hard time I would just hate to see it go bad and people not be happy with you and your services. Good word travels slow but bad travels like wild fire. I would hate to know I had 400 plus people that could possibly talk bad about my services.
If you do decide to do this hire plenty of help and do some “hands on” dry runs with that help to make sure they know what and how to do.
Good luck and let us know what you decide and how it goes……
I have done 300 but have a 24″ flat top and 2 full size steam tables to keep everything warm. 400 dogs and your existing set up is alot! I concur with some of the advice so far:
1) forget steaming buns
2) separate table for condiments
3) larger facility to prep the hot dogs
4) use your steam table to hold
5) one person tending to the cooking
6) one person handing out the cooked dogs
I would not pre-wrap if possible as the visual of slinging the dog from the steam table is crucial (IMHO). I think you can sling and hand them out quickly enough to handle the crowd.
Price? Cost of dog+bun+.010 for condiment and all paper goods (wrap, napkin, etc) X 3 or you’ll be giving the product away.
I think you’re overthinking this thing!
You’re making something simple complicated.
You can get a basic turkey cooking rig at Lowes or Home Depot for anywhere between $40 and $80.
A Bayou Classic or Masterbilt brand.
That’s all you need and they hold up fine.
Google “deep fried turkey cooker” for other options.
Don’t understand your math in the last paragraph.
You need 400 hot dogs–doesn’t matter if their 4/1 or 8/1.
You’re not going by pounds, you’re going by total number of dogs needed.
If you use 4/1’s, you’ll need 100 pounds of dogs.
4/1’s X 100#’s = 400 dogs
If you use 8/1’s, you’ll need 50 pounds of dogs.
8/1’s X 50#’s =400 dogs
You need twice as many dogs if you use 4/1’s!
The only difference is in what it’s going to cost you to buy 100 #’s verses 50#’s.
Double your cost, double your price!
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