New idea and would love your input

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rollin wings
Junior Burger
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2008/07/17 12:13:25 (permalink)

New idea and would love your input

Hi Everyone.
I have been on the boards here for a while and have been enlightened in many ways as I have researched different topics of interest. Many of you seem genuinely helpful and willing to offer assistance to people like me looking to venture into the world of food carts.
My idea is to operate a hot wing cart. My initial plan is to get all the licensing to sell wings after ball games and concerts to see if this is manageable. There are thousands of people that stream out of Broncos games, Rockies games (I live in Denver) as well as the many concert venues and I feel they would love to have wings as an alternative to the other vendors I have seen including hot dogs and burritos out of coolers. One of my concerns is the fact that I envision this as a single item sale strongly branded as wings, yet I also feel that could be a strength as I am a believer in the "kiss" (keep it simple stupid) theory. As with many places around the country I continue to see wing joints open up almost on every block and I have yet to see a mobile cart business model that has fully taken advantage of the popularity of hot wings.
Please keep in mind two things. One, I am a Full on addict of hot wings and have come up with a really good wing sauce recipe that is as good as any wing place I have been to. Two I see this a an income supplement. I do not expect to get rich working 2 hours a week. I want this to be profitable and something I can make decent money at part time and if it seems to work I will expand with more carts and people and will reevaluate the potential of it becoming more full time. But I have no unrealistic expectations at this time, but that is where I am looking to other members of the forum. Am I missing anything? Part of my excitement is that I am yet to see someone selling wings in this way, yet there may be a reason why that I am not seeing. I envision money being made with only wings, chips, drinks and tips. Lastly, I have yet to have found a reasonably priced cart that will facilitate a fryer. Can I just get a standard cart and add a table top fryer? I already have a large propane fryer we have used for frying turkey that can do 50-75 wings in a shot. I imagine I can have that set up in a safe place behind the scenes so to speak away from any drunken stray that may bump it. I plan to prefry the wings and have a large volume of sauce ready to go for speed, but that also brings up the question how do I transport that many wings with the space I see available in most food carts. Maybe just a large cooler? Anyway. That is my plan in a nutshell. I have shared it with a few people and have managed to scrape together $5k so far to start. I really appreciate any input you can offer. Good bad or indifferent. I expect learning many things the hard way as I approach this but if one piece of advice saves one mistake I would be very grateful. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
#1

36 Replies Related Threads

    ArnieTX
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/17 12:53:25 (permalink)
    Before you spend any money on this you should contact the health department in your jurisdiction for guidance. This is the first and most important step. They will have answers to questions you have now and questions you haven't even thought to ask yet. Good luck.


    Arnie
    #2
    rollin wings
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/17 12:55:28 (permalink)
    I am online researching that now. I read a great post by davebugg regarding the process. Thank you!
    #3
    spud
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/17 17:22:31 (permalink)
    Arnie is right, best thing is to run your whole idea past the local health inspector.
    They really are there to HELP you and will be able to advise best. Personally, I would go with the operation in a step van or a trailer. Too much chance for disaster slinging this stuff back and forth in the wide openess of a cart. I put my whole operation in a step van and am regarded as a mini kitchen by my local health department which frees me from needing a commisary, just a place (a letter from an RV park) to dump the waste tank each day. I bought every last stick of this including the truck used and off ebay and have had no trouble and have just about 5000 in it. Wish you best of luck and hope any of my ramblings might help.
    #4
    rollin wings
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/17 18:07:44 (permalink)
    Awesome idea. That is what I was hoping for posting my master plan.
    Assuming I do everything right with the license and county health etc does anyone have any feedback regarding the viability of the plan itself in terms of what I would like to serve (wings) and where? I just have not seen this type of operation serving wings. Especially good wings. It is just that I will be a one trick pony and I have some concern there, or is it a strength?

    #5
    biker jim
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/17 23:51:11 (permalink)
    Hey Rollin,
    The health department in Denver is really pretty helpful...once you realize that they will always want one more thing out of you. I think the idea of going more for a peddlers license versus a stand up restaurant might be the way to go. You can prepare the wings at a commissary. Keep them hot in a 12 volt type heater unit in your car. And sell em from coolers. Refilling from your car when you run out. This might be an easy and sleazy way to get started and see how it goes, without spending a ton. If you do get a cart I would really suggest doing more than wings. French fries, potato skins, poppers, etc...You're right about there being no fryer carts (or wing carts) and people do in fact like something different here. Email me if you like and I can get you the number to the Denver County Health Inspector. He could probably answer your cart questions pretty easily.
    #6
    sizz
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 01:23:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by rollin wings

    Hi Everyone.
    I have yet to see a mobile cart business model that has fully taken advantage of the popularity of hot wings.


    you don't see people eating wings outdoors from a cart because wings are a sit down, beer, plenty of napkins kind of food....
    I'm imagining trying to eat standing up on a street corner using only two hand dealing with a dozen wings, a cup of blue cheese dressing a hand full of celery sticks,sticky hands,a glass of beer, wondering what I'm going to do with the bones, how do I hold on to my drink and do all this ............. oops, napkins I need lots of napkins and where in the hell am I going to wash my hands.... people bumping into me no place to sit, my face all covered with red stuff... no place to dump the bones........ aaaahhh screw it I'll have a hot-dog where I can eat it with one hand and hold my drink with the other use one napkin and when I'm done, I'm done .............. so you wonder why you don't see wing carts?
    Before you do anything please try eating 12 wings standing up with nutten but your two hands... and no table

    #7
    The Travelin Man
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 01:49:07 (permalink)
    My gut reaction when I first read your post was that I would never buy wings from a mobile food vendor - sheerly for the inconvenience factor, as sizz described above. To me, I am more likely to buy a one-hand item from a vendor with no immediate seating. My last purchase of this sort was at the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market where I purchased a spicy Polish, which came with a bag of chips and a bottle of water. Between carrying all of that and my camera (it is likely that folks leaving a ballgame may be carrying something - a souvenir, program, etc.), it was nearly impossible to eat the brat...so, I can't fathom attempting wings.

    Mark it down, folks. July 18, 2008...I agreed with sizz.
    #8
    MellowRoast
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 05:21:35 (permalink)
    Let's assume for a moment there is an inherent inconvenience factor: bones, sauce, messy hands, etc.

    One of the most popular concessions in our tri-state area is chicken-on-a-stick. Rollin's idea could be transformed into a chicken-on-a-stick presentation.

    For example, you could serve a single themed version, incorporating the special sauce, or you could choose to also serve the traditional crispy product. How about the traditional crispy chicken-on-a-stick covered in sauce? The customer could have the choice. But the sauced product could be the specialty.

    Subtract the bones from the equation, and I don't think there's a serving problem.
    #9
    spud
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 07:26:03 (permalink)
    Your idea would be very simular to the many people selling BBQ.
    Seen lots of ribs sold this way. Or those monster turkey legs Ive seen people line up for. Obviously you cant JUST sell wings anymore than someone can just sell hot dogs, make the wings your star item and let the rest fill it out. I think youre creating a niche here. I can easily add wings to my operation without much trouble and just might. Dont give up on your idea, work out the details. Keep in mind that unfortunetly CHICKEN is a very dangerous product and must be handled very very cautiously.
    #10
    fredeats
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 08:20:14 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by sizz

    quote:
    Originally posted by rollin wings

    Hi Everyone.
    I have yet to see a mobile cart business model that has fully taken advantage of the popularity of hot wings.


    you don't see people eating wings outdoors from a cart because wings are a sit down, beer, plenty of napkins kind of food....
    I'm imagining trying to eat standing up on a street corner using only two hand dealing with a dozen wings, a cup of blue cheese dressing a hand full of celery sticks,sticky hands,a glass of beer, wondering what I'm going to do with the bones, how do I hold on to my drink and do all this ............. oops, napkins I need lots of napkins and where in the hell am I going to wash my hands.... people bumping into me no place to sit, my face all covered with red stuff... no place to dump the bones........ aaaahhh screw it I'll have a hot-dog where I can eat it with one hand and hold my drink with the other use one napkin and when I'm done, I'm done .............. so you wonder why you don't see wing carts?
    Before you do anything please try eating 12 wings standing up with nutten but your two hands... and no table



    i agree,its a good idea, but the mess is definitely an issue. plus, how much refrigeration and fryers do you need for a busy wing operation?? a busy wing place has like 6 full size, two basket fryers. maybe you could put the walk in on the roof of the cart and have a spiral staircase. haha. just kidding about the walk in, but seriously you have to thing about the sheer volume of equipment needed to pull it off.
    #11
    spud
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 22:34:37 (permalink)
    Rollin,

    Well I got so lathered up over this that I ran out this morning nad bought 20lbs of wings at the store. Used the sauce I already have for my Buffalo style dogs and the blue cheese dressing from the same. Used plastic nacho trays and put up a sign on the truck that simply said HOT WINGS 10 for $7.00. Sold out in about 30 minutes. A little more tweaking and I THINK THIS COULD BE A WINNER. NOT STEALING YOUR IDEA, CONSIDER ME YOUR R&D DEPT. hahaha. I always have 2 big garbage cans set up ouside so the bone problem is taken care of. Sadly, I dont see any way to do this from a cart. Would really need to be a trl or truck. Gonna try it again monday with more and want to try a BBQ flavor and maybe a teriyaki and definetly a SUPER HOT version. The nacho trays are perfect for 10 wings and the blue cheese in one handy little container.
    #12
    Dr of BBQ
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 22:44:42 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by spud
    Rollin, Well I got so lathered up over this that I ran out this morning nad bought 20lbs of wings at the store. Sold out in about 30 minutes. The nacho trays are perfect for 10 wings and the blue cheese in one handy little container.


    So are you using the whole wing? I like the Jumbo Wings and I mean the whole wing, not drummies. I think they look impressive on a plate. But I like them smoked rather than deep fried.
    Jack
    #13
    Foodbme
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/18 22:57:34 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by sizz

    quote:
    Originally posted by rollin wings

    Hi Everyone.
    I have yet to see a mobile cart business model that has fully taken advantage of the popularity of hot wings.


    you don't see people eating wings outdoors from a cart because wings are a sit down, beer, plenty of napkins kind of food....
    I'm imagining trying to eat standing up on a street corner using only two hand dealing with a dozen wings, a cup of blue cheese dressing a hand full of celery sticks,sticky hands,a glass of beer, wondering what I'm going to do with the bones, how do I hold on to my drink and do all this ............. oops, napkins I need lots of napkins and where in the hell am I going to wash my hands.... people bumping into me no place to sit, my face all covered with red stuff... no place to dump the bones........ aaaahhh screw it I'll have a hot-dog where I can eat it with one hand and hold my drink with the other use one napkin and when I'm done, I'm done .............. so you wonder why you don't see wing carts?
    Before you do anything please try eating 12 wings standing up with nutten but your two hands... and no table




    MY EXACT THOUGHTS AS WELL!! You may have a great product, but if I'm in a hurry to get home, and being jostled by a crowd ther's NO WAY I'm stopping to buy and try to eat wings standing up at a cart or wagon. Too much hassle!
    NOW, if you had them pre-packaged in a bucket like KFC, with a handle attached, I might consider getting them "To Go"
    #14
    spud
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/19 00:18:35 (permalink)
    Dr BBQ,

    I feel so impressed someone of your stature quoted me!

    Since I was in such a hurry to figure this out I had to take what I could find, 3 pcs wings:drums, second joint, and tips. Tips came off and into freezer to make stock with later. Seperated the drums and joint. Customer got equal pieces of each. Put about 1/3 full Big stock pot with oil heated to 350, tossed pieces in and quickly put lid on. Read online that this helps to speed up process, make more tender and keep you from getting splattered. Couple minutes removed and into pan of sauce on steam table and by the time they got them they were plump hot and easy to eat. A few extra napkins and some really satisfied customers.

    For those wanting to take them with them a simple piece of foil was wrapped over the top. The sauce was in and on the wings, they werent sitting in pool of sauce that could slop out.

    If I keep this (and I just might) I will definetly get better quality from my food supplier.

    Still working out the kinks but so far it seems pretty doable.
    #15
    rollin wings
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/21 17:04:19 (permalink)
    Thanks for all of the input. Spud, it's great you actually put this to practice and it sounds like you felt like it was successful. What were your thoughts on the messy factor? Did customers seem put off? Also you mention you did not feel selling these from a cart would work. How come? What do you have to sell you wares? My plan is to pre-fry the wings and just put them in the fryer 2-3 minutes to reheat and re-crisp. I have a decent fryer that would do this with pretty good volume. I looked at a van that was converted, but was more $$ than I have for this right now. Also to start I will only be selling these after big events where there is a ton of foot traffic a few times a week. I went to a concert last night and made note of the people buying the cooler burritos and $5.00 pizza's after the show and I think I may be dealing with a braver crowd with regard to the messiness because of their alcohol consumption. I really appreciate the feedback from the board. All of your thoughts are valuable to me.
    #16
    wheregreggeats.com
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/21 17:54:38 (permalink)
    I am with those who are concerned about the bones problem.

    I'd probably not take wings -- unless there was a tremendous buzz about them. But, still I'd need a place to deal with eating them ... remember, nobody can eat a batch of wings without drinking something.


    #17
    Russ Jackson
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/21 18:03:37 (permalink)
    You could hand out plastic gloves and lots of napkins...Russ
    #18
    spud
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/21 19:41:42 (permalink)
    Rollin,

    Today I tried the wings again, had a bunch of people from friday come back to me wanting wings again and they brought buddies with them! Sold 50lbs in about an hour. I just dont see the messiness factor so many are in an uproar about. That picture thats up I believe is from an eating contest, who would get so covered like that in normal life?
    I watched my customers enjoy them and give lots of thumbs up and smiles. There are no tables where I am but no one ever minds. I actually think my cheesesteaks are maybe messier.

    If youre looking for an already existing food truck it will cost you a fortune. Im talking like a UPS step van. Mine is a 1979 I bought for 600 running like a top but pretty dirty inside.(you really cant go by the age, these things were made to be beaten forever and keep on running.) with a 7x12 area. I laid it all out myself and put it togther in the way I felt most comfortable with with my used equipment from auctions and ebay. The health inspector as I said earlier liked it so much it is classified as a mobile kitchen which allows me to bypass the commissary problem. All together with the price of the truck I might have 5000 in it. I could easily sell it for 12000 to 15000.

    The cart would involve too much of your operation being out in the open. People see you holding the wings some place and then reheating it would be a turn-off to me. Might as well toss them in a microwave. I like the holding them on the steamtable soaking in sauce allowing it to soak in and keep them hot and moist. Im almost sure the health dept would not allow most of your method. Another drawback of the cart is it kind of restricts you to just a very few items. Even thought Im selling the wings like crazy I still have all my other stuff for everyone else.

    Trying to get a camera to take some pictures of what I doing and I do thank you for revving me up on something I honestly wouldnt have considered. After 2 days I am convinced this can work. Would I make it my star item? No. Hot dogs and sausages will always be my main focus. Did an event this weekend and was kicking myself I didnt bring the wings.

    Sorry If I overtook your topic. I think Ive got this down now, have any questions please ask.

    spud

    #19
    rollin wings
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 09:50:15 (permalink)
    Thanks again for all of the input. Very good stuff. Even if there are some question marks about the messy factor it sounds like this has a shot. I will continue to be on the lookout for the right method of delivery.
    Spud, any pics you can post or send me directly of your operation would be great. Good luck. And just keep in mind my 10% idea finder fee. ;)

    #20
    PapaJoe8
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 13:29:54 (permalink)
    They sell a fried wing at Wall Mart that is not messy at all. I would try making some like that and testing them out. Also, a boneless fried wing might be something I would test out. I am not sure where you can buy those boneless wings?

    A better idea... a chicken farm where you raise chickens that have no bones in their wings.
    Joe
    #21
    susanll
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 13:32:52 (permalink)
    So instead of a flapping chicken, you would have a floppy chicken.

    #22
    GNeedles59
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 13:35:45 (permalink)
    The venue is gonna love all the chicken bones people leave on the ground.
    #23
    WarToad
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 13:45:19 (permalink)
    As a consumer, I have traveled and eaten street food the world over. I always consider just how messy it may be before I get it. If it looks awesome but also looks messy, I make a mental note of the food and find it later in a bar/restaurant.

    If you can contain the mess or the PERCEPTION of the mess - the you might capture more customers like me.
    #24
    rollin wings
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 14:16:45 (permalink)
    WarToad,
    I would agree with you and this seems to be the major crux of the issue. I made a batch of wings last night to test my fry and re-fry plan as well as to try to find a good ratio of sauce to wing that will make it slightly less messy. My sauce is pretty thick and is spicy and flavorful enough so that a little really goes along way, it doesn't need to be swimming in sauce. There is still a mess on your fingers, but nothing like the fella foodbme posted. I don't who eats wings like that...
    If I handed out 3 paper towels and a prepackaged wet nap that should ensure someone can clean up OK. As far as the venue and bones all over the place, I guess I am expecting people aren't going to go all caveman just because they are eating hot wings. I expect they will adhere to the same standards they hold for themselves with a hot dog, BBQ, or any other food that inevitably will have something that needs to be disposed of. I would really be surprised if anyone felt like the only way to get rid of the boat, napkins, bones and empty drink container would be to just toss it on the ground. Although I may be giving people too much credit, and will have two large trash cans right handy. I like the idea of putting some tinfoil over the top of the boat to ensure they can wait until they get to their car, find a park bench so on before going at it.
    #25
    jman
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 15:12:25 (permalink)
    Considering the replies you're getting, it's pretty apparent why no one else is doing it.

    Why not alter your concept and offer boneless wings(chicken chunks) in a cup? Give them a big toothpick and let them go at it. No mess, no fuss.
    #26
    PapaJoe8
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 15:31:45 (permalink)
    Here is a sign idea;

    Hot Wings
    Made From Boneless Winged Chickens



    Hey, it will get folks talkin!

    Yep, I think the non messy fried boneless wings is the best idea.

    Jman, your idea is good also!
    Joe
    #27
    SFS Fan
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 15:50:42 (permalink)
    I also like the boneless wings idea. My first thought when I heard your idea was that you'd have a few customers who toss or leave the bones in places other than the trash can which would cause complaints from people in the neighborhood and would look to shut you down. I realize that there will always be people who make a mess in public. But, I think people are more "accustomed" (for the want of a better word) to seeing a randomly discarded hot dog wrapper or a paper boat with a few uneaten french fries than chicken bones left on various places on the sidewalk.
    #28
    rollin wings
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 16:04:59 (permalink)
    Hey Jman.
    I agree there is a sense that the mess is a problem for allot of people willing to put in their $.02. That said I don't think I would undertake the wing thing any other way than traditional. That's what is popular here-and most places around the country. There are some other options I am kicking around, but so far if the mess factor is the only problem most folks are seeing I don't know if that is something I cannot overcome. I have already cleared the process with my Health Department rep and as long as my fryer is commercial he said it would fly. Especially considering the pre-fry method. Which worked really well. I fried a batch of 20 wings for 8 minutes, and refrigerated the wings over night re-fried 3 minutes and had a pipin' hot crispy wing- Then I was not working with raw chicken.
    #29
    Foodbme
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    RE: New idea and would love your input 2008/07/22 17:21:56 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jman

    Considering the replies you're getting, it's pretty apparent why no one else is doing it.

    Why not alter your concept and offer boneless wings(chicken chunks) in a cup? Give them a big toothpick and let them go at it. No mess, no fuss.


    I like this idea with modifications. Put 3-4 chicken nuggets on a bamboo skewer, pre-fry as tried with the wings and finish them as you described. Have your sauce in an upright container, holding the skewer, dip nuggets in your sauce, put into a serving boat and off they go. You should be able to do it in 10-15 seconds at the most.
    You need to have Quick Customer Turnover because the crowd will be moving and your time window of opportunity is very short.
    Have someone collect money and make change. Set it up so customers pre-pay. If you have their money they'll wait if you get backed up. Have a friend/relative near your cart in a chicken suit to draw attention and you will be in "Diamonds as Big as Horse Turds" before you know it!

    Call them "Bronco Hot Nuggets to Go"! People can walk to their cars and eat the nuggets off the skewers as they go. No Rust, No Dust, No Mess, No Problem!
    Don't know the food costs, but if you could sell them for $1 a Skewer or 6 sticks for $5, you should make some coin.
    #30
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