In Part 11 I take questions from vendors who participated live. We cover plan reviews and below you will find the course notes.
- Q & A (part one)
Part 11 Q & A
One of the questions I got, I will put it over here and I hope you can see that is says, does anyone know the ropes in Atlanta? Basically it depends on who you are asking in Atlanta you want to go through the same process there are some vendors that do know the ropes in Atlanta if you want to email me I will try to hook you up with somebody and they can help you, I know there is one guy in Atlanta he charges to help you as far as to help you but he is going to charge you for his time you can’t hardly blame him he gets a lot of requests for it but either way I can hook you up with somebody that may know or even call into the radio show but Atlanta can be tricky because some people will tell you that you can’t vend there and some people will tell you that you can, I do know that you can there are some loop holes as far as there are some steps that you have to go through to get approved and licensed just like you do in about anywhere but it’s do able so, yes you can, let’s see this next one asked me how did I get around the City Ordinance. Okay I got around it by doing catering and another way I got around it was going after hours, I didn’t call it catering but I went to like if this Auction Company wanted me to be at this Auction and it was in town it didn’t matter nobody ever asked me anything because I was there for that Auction Company they had hired me to be there or they had asked me to be there and even though I was bringing in my own money or they were paying me or however it went it didn’t matter I never got questioned and that’s how I got around the City Ordinance’s in the city limits it’s do able to get into the city limits even the flea market which is crazy, you are allowed to go to the flea market that is in the city limits but you are allowed to be there, so there’s always a loophole. Basically what they don’t want is you setting up on the side of the road and like here you got down town [inaudible 02.12] people driving by and walking by it would be an excellent spot for a cart, they don’t want you there on the public right of way, they don’t even want on private property on the park way they call it the park way is where everybody drives and so it’s real slow traffic and it would be phenomenal for your business but you can’t be there that’s what they are trying to prevent but as far as you going to so and so birthday’s party or you going to the office party down at the Country Club they don’t care really, I have never had an issue with it and I wouldn’t even call it catering back then but that’s what I was doing. Okay somebody asked if a cop stops you wouldn’t you have to show your license, one it would be, I don’t know that I understand the question as far as why the cop would be stopping you to begin with and what license he is going to be asking for, cops do criminal end they don’t do civil stuff so unless you are in a town where there is a big problem with illegal vendors and they are always in the news and what is it in San Diego or something they have got 14,000 or 12,000 illegal vendors and in that kind of place maybe the cops are more aware of what’s going on but we don’t have any street vendors here, you don’t see any and so it’s not like a flux of people doing it, it’s rare you have to drive around and really look to find vendors and they are out here but they are working the flea market they are working over at the, I know a vendor that works in town right now in front of Advance but he’s donating part of the money to a blind charity, it’s for blind children or charity or something like that and that’s how he did it, read the book and he used the charity to get in front of them and he is still making a living and he’s still helping his community and he’s in town and I don’t think a cop would ask you so I don’t know how I would answer that because I haven’t run across that. Cops handle criminal stuff they don’t handle zoning issues typically, I have never heard of them doing that, they may try to do it if you try to put a pit bull fighting ring in a back yard in town, that may get called but then you are back to criminal, I hope that answered your question if not then please post it back up or tell me what I need to do there. Is a pan considered a utensil, no for all instance and purposes, no, no, no, a utensil is the stuff you use in the pans like your tongs your ladles stuff like that if you have a mixing spoon or spatula those things you know a burger flipper anything like that is a utensil yours pans are not considered utensils and shouldn’t be classified but now you may find a Health Inspector that calls it a utensil and so you may have to call your pan a utensil and he may say you have to have this and go okay all state codes in the first part of it there is a glossary of terms, all states do this every one of them they have a glossary that gives a definition of each term used and so if they are using the word utensil then utensil will have a definition and it will say what it is otherwise you could say okay my pan’s a utensil then my carts a utensil so I have got to have a sink big enough to dip my whole cart into, you can carry that to the eighth degree but that’s the answer. My home city doesn’t allow vending in their parks, I wanted to set up during sports practice any idea, charity absolutely that is a good idea if you can hook in with a charity or you can hook in with the school system or maybe the eighth grade so and so’s or the twelfth grade class whatever’s and you can possibly wiggle your way in the back door by doing that and not showing up as a vendor that’s a for profit vendor here to make money off the city, no you are helping the community out and basically what you would do is go to let’s say the eighth grad soccer team uses that field over there and go listen we have a catering company blah, blah, blah we would like to give back to the community, how would you like to if we donated a portion of our proceeds, we could be at every game that you do over at the community centre or the city park that’s one way to get in another way is to attach it to a bigger charity like the Humane Society but do a local charity, it’s hard for them to go oh you are here to help the local safe space, you need to leave sir you won’t get it, I have just never heard of anybody being run off because they were helping a local charity and even though you are not giving them 100% of your money that has nothing to do with it, even full fledge charities don’t give 100% of the money back, they got operations expenses and they got overhead and all this stuff so if you give anything to them you will be giving more than most real charities are and you are not a charity you are just a business willing to give back and that counts for a lot I mean you give safe space or the humane society an extra $100 a week or $200 a week you know your percentage you work out and all of a sudden you’re their new hero because they don’t get stuff like that.
Next question, I hope that answered your question if not just let me know, do you serve chilli on your cart if yes how do you store it and heat it, I do serve chilli, I serve chilli man’s chilli and in Tennessee I cannot have, I have to have vegetarian chilli my Health Inspector tells me it can’t be meat chilli and so I buy this chilli man’s chilli which they have won 2 world records for taste test, real world records for taste tests on this vegetarian chilli you can get it and I promise you you won’t be able to tell that it’s not just regular chilli it tastes delicious and they put soya protein in it and it has the texture and flavour of meat so you don’t know that you are not eating regular chilli. Well taken that is easy, I put it in zip lock bags, double zip lock bag it and refrigerate it and you can freeze it and then when you get to your cart you can pour it if it’s refrigerated into a pan, I do a double boiler type set up where I have water underneath in the spillage pan and then I have this pan sitting over the hot water in the hot water I fill it up further so that it the hot water surrounds the bottom of the pan, I put the chillies in and I heat it up that way and I serve it with a half-ounce ladle half ounce serves across the dog good without being a mess and it’s a good way to keep up with portions and what you give out in portions.
Let’s see, bear with me I am pulling up this and see if I can see, who’s next here, can we sell the sausage like Sam’s sells with rosemary and cheese on the cart, depends on your Health Department but I know that I am allowed to serve any sausage that’s precooked, if it’s precooked I can serve it and so it’s pretty easy if it’s precooked then it’s safe it’s not potentially hazardous and all I am doing is reheating it so it is treated just like a hot dog is so you should be fine with that with the flavoured dogs. We try it on our cart, going back to that question, we tried it on our cart you know the dogs with the cheese in them but the crappy part is that the dogs shrink up so much, they shrink to almost nothing they are just store bought dogs with cheese in them and so we quit, we tried that a little bit. Is a griddle handier than a grill and what could I cook on a griddle, okay, this comes from Tennessee it’s a Tennessee question, is a griddle handier than a grill, I don’t know I like a grill better just because the pretty marks and the fire and all that, a griddle probably is truly handier that’s why restaurant’s use them they have the big steaks and the flat top griddles but I like the look the charring the whole thought and concept and aura that goes around a grill it just reminds people of being out in their back yard and getting a real good hot dog and so I prefer a grill. What can you cook on a griddle in Tennessee it depends on who you ask the Health Department says anything that non-potentially hazardous but I know some vendors in Tennessee can serve anything as long as it was prepared on the commissary first now my Health Department will not let me, my Inspector will not period, period, period let me serve just anything, I can’t heat up spaghetti and make individual portions and take it to the cart but I know some vendors in Tennessee that are serving barbeque off their cart and hamburgers, pre done hamburgers and then they boiled them in the hot water like I do with my chili sauce basically flavoured with beef [inaudible 12.35] cubes and they hold them in that, in hot water they don’t boil them they are already done and when they are ready they just throw them up on the grill and that way all they are doing is searing them, making them pretty and so I would check with your Inspector because you may get a different answer than me and 50 other people, it just changes by who you ask, those are things that, if I am trying to get away with something I really want to serve sauerkraut and he goes yeah you can serve sauerkraut I know that it isn’t allowed I am not going to show him the rule and go actually it’s not allowed sir, I am not going to do that so I use the rules to my favour like anybody should, to their benefit, what can I cook, basically you are going to have to check and see what you can do, I don’t t think you can do pancakes and stuff like that, I know some vendors depending on where they are serving, they will serve anything and I have done it, I have done private deals, catering type of events and I will serve anything on the cart, barbeque sandwiches whatever you want, potato salad, I will do it all.
My city’s info says mobile units are not allowed for vending purposes, what mobile units are not allowed for vending purposes. I would have to see that I don’t understand that, I have never heard of that, either one of those two terms you need to look up in their glossary and see what they are calling vending purposes and what mobile units mean because some mobile units they consider enclosed and then push carts are a whole different category so I would need to know more to be able to answer that question, I don’t think it is going to be a challenge at all I think it’s just a matter of interpreting their rules to figure out what they mean by that it is crazy wording though I have to give you that, that is awkward way to say that on their part. That’s what I was talking about folks the legal stuff. Do you have squirrel, I probably do I have had squirrel when I was growing up more than once like a staple food like once a week not once a week probably twice a month so we grow up poor so we eat anything that you could go out and shoot. Where do you find private label water, that is easy you can get it at Sam’s you can call Sam’s even, you can order it on Sam’s web site by the pallet but it’s just expensive for shipping so what I would suggest is that you go to a local water bottler like a lot of big cities, a lot of areas have their own water bottler, I have been to many cities and they have their own water bottler, you just look up water, if you go to your grocery store you may see a home town name, you may see like here we have 4 bottle companies and that’s crazy I know, but I think there are 4 different bottle companies there is one called English Mountain Water maybe 6 miles from where I am and they are basically a spring water, bottled water, they will private label the bottles for you and so look up if you go to the grocery store here you will see English Mountain Spring water one’s called Douglas Mountain Water or something or Smokey Mountain Water and it’s another one and so you go there and you find that and you call them of you go on their website and they already have it listed because some of them already do the private labelled waters, you know your local grocery store may be called [inaudible 17.00] water but it’s made from English Mountain whoever their local water bottler is just private labels it for them.
What do you flavour your water with? I use beer and beef [inaudible 17.15] cubes depending on if I have the beer available sometimes the beer distributor buddy that I have he will give me the old ones and I don’t need a lot it’s not like you need a lot of them but the ones that he has pulled off the shelves he has given me a case of them and I will use those to dump into the water it is going to, there is no harm in it and when I don’t you can spice it up with beef [inaudible 17.39] cubes and if you want you can do your own special spices, I know a vendor his name is Mike and he spices his up with a secret recipe of spices he spices his water once and all day long you know you have to add water now and again he is boiling his dogs, but he is boiling them inside that spiced water, he is adding his own flavour to a no named dog and he is selling it as hey what kind of dog do you have, they are my dogs they are hot dog Mike dogs, hot dog Mike. I know another vendor [inaudible 18.14] and he serves [inaudible 18.15] hot dogs well where do you get them, right here, this is where you get them and so he’s branded his dogs to his company and so it’s not Nathan’s or Subretts or Oscar mire or any of those, it’s his company, you can try different flavourings to come up with your own way to do it but beef [inaudible 18.38] cubes and the only reason I do it, pre-saturate the water, the water doesn’t suck out the colouring the first couple of batches of dogs because typically if you have clean water in there and blow it and you throw in a batch of dogs, those dogs will be a little less the colour you want and some of the flavour will have soaked out of them, boiled out of them well if you pre-saturate the water you don’t have that issue.
How do you care for your condiments to control spoilage? I keep them in a cooler and I have learned different tricks like keeping them in zip lock bags, double zip lock bags, I zip lock bag my onions so they don’t cross contaminate the smell it doesn’t hurt anything but it smells atrocious if you pickle starts smelling like onions or something like that so I keep all the cold stuff in the cooler and I have Tupperware little containers or you can do zip lock bags they are so much easier because I do just enough because I put 30 hot dogs in a freezer bag and they are already thawed and then I dump that bag into my hot water and now each time I go in there I don’t have to break up frozen dogs, I already have it ready and prepared for myself you know I know what I have got to do and you will learn little tricks like that and I will help you any way I can but you are going to learn a lot of things by, you will learn, you may go at my location I put 20 hotdogs in my bags well that’s perfect because it doesn’t matter it is whatever works for you and figure out those but that’s how you control spillages you is by keeping it cool and the Health Department will tell you what the temperature is for safe for this or that or whatever you are carrying. Like hot dogs they want be 142, in Tennessee I think it’s 142 but it’s after 3 hours which you shouldn’t even have them on you cart after 3 hours cooking so it’s useless, now cold keep them below 40 and you are safe and that’s the rule in Tennessee.
Do you prepare onions at home or on site? I used to prepare them on site, I quit because onions are popular, popular especially the coke onions so I do those at the commissary and you can buy onions already done so once you get going and you start getting successful you can go you know what this takes a lot of time I am going to buy these already done or you can pay somebody to do it and you can buy a fancy $400 dollar onion slicer and get a 3 hour job turned into, I will chop up 100 lbs of onion one time that takes a long time if you are just using it with a knife once you can afford it you can buy the onion slicer to do it or you pay one of your daughters to do it.
What the best buns, it depends on who you ask in around me the one’s that I have had the best luck with success the longevity they hold up good to steam they don’t dry out they come already moist is Sara Lee, I get those at Sam’s Club some people use wonder bread, Mareda I have heard does pretty good, I did hot dogs the other night and I think it was Mareda just in the house on the cart, it was good and it held up fine but I don’t know about long term with it I’ve just had good success with Sara Lee and it’s a good price and it’s a good nice texture but there’s a lot more too that, Rosen buns if you are up north are fantastic that is the Chicago style Vienna style poppy seed bun. Vienna carries their own they are delicious and they hold up well so it just depends on what you have available to you and if you have a local bakery like a real bread bakery then by all means get fresh bread but I don’t have one that’s close to me my local bakery is about an hour from me and so that isn’t going to help me to get daily bread supplies but I know Jason gets a daily supply of bread, whenever he needs it and you can do that and you now that video that I did of the gentleman up north he gets a 1000 buns dropped off to him at each cart on the weekend each night, so each cart, each night every weekend a 1000 buns fresh baked Rosen I think it is ROSEN I think is the name.
Do you take credit cards, yes, didn’t and now do a smart way to go it’s not expensive you can the Mobile Food Vendors Association has a deal with Sales View that gives you all your software to run your business it gives you all kinds of extra stuff for free and a better deal than the Square Up Deal and I know literally hundreds of vendors use Square up and love it so I can’t talk bad about either one and wouldn’t unless we had some demonstrable evidence that it was bad but either one, I do know that if you get going really well Square Up has some crazy limits where they don’t send you your money because you have reached some limits and they hold onto it a little longer so be forewarned and look at the instructions, go and look on line people will talk, there are blogs, I have even done blogs about the pros and cons of different credit card things where you don’t have to sign up and you are not under contract and I like those, so I would say these days because you get people especially once you get a regular following of people you don’t want them going oh crap I don’t have any cash on me, I don’t want to go to the bank and then go over to the hot dog guy, I would rather go over to the hot dog guy or they will just go to Taco Bell then I would rather them come to me knowing hey we take debit cards yeah no problem you swipe it you sign it and you get your receipt my email it’s beautiful, so yes I would suggest it.
Describe a typical day from set up to break down, oh my goodness, that is long one and I will have a video course coming out with that, but that’s like a several hour video course and it’s a long one but the bottom line is prepare the day before if I make sure I have onions cut up and all that bagged and ready and the next day is just loading up and checking off my check list as I still have a check list and make sure I have everything, I get to the job site and then I work and when I get done sometimes I am real lazy and I take the cart directly home I don’t go and clean it or spray it off or nothing and then I ask one of my children to clean it and then I clean up as far as clean pans and all that stuff that’s a typical example of a full day but that’s the short version.
I think that is about it, they are the only questions I see that I haven’t answered.
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