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In Need of Some Pricing Advice for a 1-Time Catering Gig for a Grad Party

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  • JeffJ
    Charter Member
    • Feb 2015
    • 2409
    • Michigan
    • Jeff

    In Need of Some Pricing Advice for a 1-Time Catering Gig for a Grad Party

    They are asking me to base my pricing on 60 people. I'll be making pulled pork sandwiches. 25-30 pounds of butt that will be trimmed, dry-brined, cut into 2.5-5 pound butts and hit with my dry rub. I'm hoping it will all fit in the 26+SnS but I might have to use the PBC or 14.5 WSM for overflow. The party is on a Saturday and I'm taking the Friday before it off work (I'll be doing yard work while the food is cooking). I'll be dressing the pulled pork lightly with my homemade KC sauce and I'll be providing the buns, a creamy coleslaw for the sandwiches and homemade hot sauce. I'll also be making baked macaroni and cheese from scratch for the party.

    At 60 people what should I charge? $500? $600? More? Less? I haven't done this in a long time and I want the pricing to be fair and reasonable.
  • FireMan
    Charter Member
    • Jul 2015
    • 7679
    • Bottom of Winnebago

    I know nothing about this, but 10$ a head sounds reasonable. If there is some doubt in your mind, make it 550. It sounds like you are trying to do the right thing & that’s important. You must have figured in your costs, consider being fair to yourself also.


    • bardsleyque
      Club Member
      • Oct 2015
      • 605
      • Snoqualmie Wa.

      To cater I charge $20.per head,that means 2 or 3 meats, sides,plates utensils,napkins,and I'm serving usually with a helper or 2.I'll give the option of $20 per lb.sides included but I'm not "serving"(though I usually do if I'm attending)!


      • JeffJ
        JeffJ commented
        Editing a comment
        That's good info. I'm providing some of the food for the party but am not serving it. I'm providing the disposable warming tins and stuff like that but all of the plasticware, etc is on the hosts and I'm not actually working the party, just dropping the food off, ready to be warmed/baked with simple instructions.

        I'm thinking maybe $10 per head, but very much want some additional input.
    • Mr. Bones
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      Whenever I am asked, I usually start by lookin what BBQ places are chargin, locally...cost of livin varies wildly, in various other cities, but here's some quick examples from LFK: also, bear in mind they're buyin wholesale, not retail, from th meats, on down to disposable picnic ware

      As bardsleyque so aptly beat me to mentionin, there's always a pricin difference, between picked up, delivered, or served, an I was also gonna mention lookin at their price per lb. fer meats, an bulk sides...

      Click image for larger version  Name:	Biemers BBQ Catering.JPG Views:	1 Size:	130.3 KB ID:	687109
      Click image for larger version  Name:	Biggs Cater 001.JPG Views:	1 Size:	114.9 KB ID:	687110
      That gives me a ballpark to start from, an I go from there...
      Attached Files


      • CaptainMike
        Club Member
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        Cost + overhead + profit = price. And try to never undersell yourself, you are providing a service that they can't do for themselves. That's how I went broke as a contractor .


        • Slice169
          Club Member
          • May 2019
          • 11
          • Seward, Nebraska

          JeffJ do you have a catering license? Around my area it can get pretty dicey charging people without one. Alot of guys are nervous to do it. Mostly they'll just ask for a case of beer and for the customer to buy the meat. I know others that will ask for reimbursement for meat/seasoning/fuel... Around here, everyone knows that the best guys aren't licenced so whomever a guy is cooking for will just give a cash "donation" and pay for the meat. No set price. I don't know how people do it other places though


          • HouseHomey
            Club Member
            • May 2016
            • 5277
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            Pssst... over here... I know a guy who knows a guy that does this thing.

            thats an area thing. Plus what donated etc... the lines can get blurred.


            • JeffJ
              Charter Member
              • Feb 2015
              • 2409
              • Michigan
              • Jeff

              Slice169 It's kind of weird how this all came about. I know them through my son's High School. I only recently started talking to them in depth and the backstory is too much to go into here in depth. Needless to say, I was caught by surprise by this request. No, I'm not licensed and while I used to do this kind of thing on a small scale on the side almost 15 years ago....it kind of snowballed on me.

              Short, short story - my oldest graduated a year ago and my youngest is a freshman now. Both were in the band (my oldest is a clarinet performance major in college now) and, this is a private High School, the band has 1 fundraiser per year and it's an epic event. 3 years ago I decided to donate a pulled pork dinner party (with 2 sides) for up to 15 people for the silent auction. This family was on the acquisitions council this year and the father was very intrigued by my offering and has been wanted to get into Q. I talked to him at length about it and ultimately recommended a PBC based on his criteria. He got one and has had some success with it. At a later function he told he he was thinking about using it to make pulled pork for his son's grad party and had concerns about space. I was going to recommend lending him mine and at the next function, a week later, they were asking if I'd be willing to cook pulled pork for their party. Of course, I was flattered and agreed. He just wasn't comfortable cooking for a crowd that size still being a newbie.

              Based on what Mr. Bones provided a full-blown, provide all-of-the food gig should be over $20 per head. Given I'm only providing some of the food I'm leaning toward $450 for 60 people. I am thinking I'll probably spend on materials and overhead in the neighborhood of $200-250.


              • Mr. Bones
                Mr. Bones commented
                Editing a comment
                Only yerself can decide what's fair, an lookin around at th local purveyors prices is a place to start...
            • Sweaty Paul
              Founding Member
              • Aug 2014
              • 1440
              • Hays, KS
              • Green Mountain Grill - Jim Bowie
                (I've never regretted having too much grate space).

                Weber Genesis Gas grill
                Weber Kettle grills x 2

              Mr. Bones I agree with you. That said we (and a group of six other families) recently paid about $7/pound for cooked pulled pork. We brought the sides and supplied everything else.

              Authors note-I offered to cook it all, but, other families didn’t think I should have to work doing that. Had 400 people so kinda glad I didn’t.


              • robstock
                Club Member
                • Dec 2018
                • 16
                • Montague, Ma

                So my two cents on this. If you aren't serving and only providing one protein and two sides. I would charge $10-11 a head. Now is this in someone's backyard or in a rented facility. If in a rented facility be very careful as now you are crossing into territory that can get you into trouble. Every town has a different set of requirements to cater an event like this. The fact that you aren't serving lessons the requirements.


                • Smoking like a pro
                  Former Member
                  • May 2019
                  • 8
                  • Metro Detroit

                  I had a catering business about 20 years ago. I would take a look at meat prices as close to the price quote as possible. Summertime pork prices fluctuate and right now, butts are really high in Michigan. I'll put my two cents in with just a couple of things. One, pulling pork for 50+ people makes your hands sore, so don't be afraid to make it worth your while financially. Also, if you desire to do so, upcharge the event by offering to supply disposables and any other items you can pick up while you're at Costco, Sam's Club or wherever you are making your meat purchase. My last catering event was pulled pork. I smoked 8 whole butts and put them in Foodsaver bags. Once at the event, they went into a pot of simmering water (still in fully sealed bags) to heat. They turned out to be some of my best ever. I was also able to save 5 lbs of meat for the host, that they froze for a late summer party. If you give a great price and offer great food, you may find a great tip at the end of your smokey rainbow. Best of luck to you!


                  • Huskee
                    Pit Boss
                    • May 2014
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                      About me
                      Real name: Aaron
                      Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                      • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

                    I charge roughly $4/lb just cook the meat. That seems to make the folks I've cooked for happy, but it's hardly a money-maker if you're doing a small amount. (If someone gives me a $60 brisket I charge $60 to prep & cook it, so the more meat the better "profit"). That's after the meat's paid for or delivered to me. That obvioulsy doesn't include sides, plates, buns, etc. $6-7/lb seems fair for providing & cooking pork butt, or $7-10 per head for a few items provided. You got your prep time, rubs, fuel and/ or electrcity to cook the pork and mac & cheese, foil, plastic wrap, knife to sharpen, gloves, sauce ingredients, fuel/electrcity to cook the sauce, serving pans or whatever you deliver the cooked food in, dishes to do after (or at least prep), etc. When I've done it it hasn't been to make a day's wage as a business gig, more to help out friends who asked me to cook, so my pricing was never to keep a business afloat but more to cover my expenses, wood, and have some beer money. If I had to pay insurance and transportation costs of course it'd be much higher.


                    • JeffJ
                      Charter Member
                      • Feb 2015
                      • 2409
                      • Michigan
                      • Jeff

                      After talking with them about pricing and quantity we cut everything back. They have a lot of other food items so I will be cooking as if I'm providing for 30 people or so and am charging $200. It's not a profitable gig by any stretch, but I'm fine with it. That quantity will only require the use of 1 cooker which makes things easier.




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