A BBQ business is a business that sells barbequed beef, chicken, turkey, bacon, pork, fish, and corn amongst others. BBQ caterers are chefs (some people call them Pit-masters in the BBQ community) that focus their culinary efforts towards the grilling and smoking of meat and the creation of classic sides.

Available data shows that in 2019, the global barbecue grill market was valued at approximately 5.1 billion U.S. dollars. The value of this market was expected to rise to 8.1 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. So also, in 2023, the American barbecue grill market was valued at approximately 2.75 billion U.S. dollars, up from 2.19 billion dollars in 2015.

Steps on How to Start a BBQ Business

  1. Conduct Market Research

If you are considering starting a BBQ business, you would need reliable market research to be able to maximize profits from the business. The first step in the market research process for your BBQ business should be to develop market-based research questions in line with your overall business goal and objective.

In this regard, you should source for information that will help you maximize your business, give you reliable data on what your potential market will be looking out for from a BBQ business, and also help you operate your BBQ business with less stress and of course, build the business to profitability.

a. Who is the Target Market for BBQ Business?
  • Facility managers
  • Event Planners
  • Schools
  • Tourists
  • Workers in construction sites
  • Campground patrons and staff members
  • Everyone who resides in the location you intend to sell your barbequed food.
b. Is BBQ Business a Profitable Business?

Yes, the BBQ business is highly profitable because grilled foods are part of the American food culture. This is backed by the fact that Kansas City is known as the Barbecue Capital of the World.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

Yes, there are existing niches when it comes to the BBQ business. Here are some of them;

  • BBQ Restaurants
  • Drive through BBQ shop
  • Kiosk or Stands BBQ shop
  • Mobile BBQ shop (BBQ carts or BBQ trucks).
d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • Kerlin BBQ (Austin, Texas)
  • Hometown Bar-B-Que (Brooklyn, New York)
  • Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (Kansas City, Kansas)
  • The Granary ‘Cue & Brew (San Antonio, Texas)
  • 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Orlando, Florida)
  • Herman’s Ribhouse (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
  • Franklin Barbecue (Austin, Texas)
  • Skylight Inn BBQ (Ayden, North Carolina)
  • Central BBQ (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • Double J Smokehouse & Saloon (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • Black’s Barbecue (Lockhart, Texas)
  • Bogart’s Smokehouse (St. Louis)
  • Dreamland Bar-B-Que Ribs (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
  • John Russell’s Kansas City Barbeque (Overland Park, Kansas)
  • Payne’s Bar-B-Que (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano, Texas)
  • Allen & Son Bar-B-Que (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
  • T.’s Smokehouse (Sturbridge, Massachusetts)
  • Gates Bar-B-Q (Kansas City, Missouri)
  • R.’s Rhodehouse BBQ Pit (Piedmont, South Dakota).
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for BBQ Business?

Yes, there are county and state regulations and zoning laws for BBQ businesses in the United States. Please note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets the federal Food Code, but it doesn’t oversee individual BBQ restaurants or trucks. Instead, the various states use the Food Code as the basis for their own food codes. They may adopt its rules, interpret them differently or set their own rules.

Please note that in the United States, you are required to follow your own state’s foodservice code. Visit the FDA website for a list of food service codes by state. Use this to find the state authority handling restaurants and bars and view the laws that apply in your state.

f. Is There a Franchise for BBQ Business?

Yes, there are franchise opportunities for the BBQ business, and here are some of them;

  • Bar – B – Cutie Smokehouse
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
  • L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
  • Gyu – Kaku Japanese BBQ
  • Voodoo BBQ & Grill
  • Billy SIMS BBQ
  • Urban Bar – B – Que
  • Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ
  • Red Hot & Blue
  • Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque
  • Tony Roma’s
  • Virginia Barbeque
  • Bandana’s Bar – B – Q
  • Fat Jack’s BBQ
  • Woody’s Bar – B – Q
  • Shane’s Rib Shack.
g. What Do You Need to Start a BBQ Business?
  • A Feasibility Report
  • Business and Marketing Plans
  • Business Licenses and Permits
  • A Good Restaurant facility
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number)/Federal Tax ID Number.
  • A Corporate Bank Account
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Employees
  • Startup Capital
  1. Memorable BBQ Business Names

  • Grilled Pot© BBQ Cart, Inc.
  • Denzel Kingston® BBQ Restaurants, LLC
  • Glover Sean© BBQ Truck, Inc.
  • Ben Ten® BBQ Truck, Inc.
  • Smoked Beef™ BBQ Cart, Inc.
  • The Horizon™ BBQ Restaurants, LLC.
  • Brown Wings© BBQ Restaurants, LLC
  • Grilled Delight® BBQ Restaurants, Inc.
  • Smoked Label© BBQ Truck, Inc.
  • Meat Lovers© BBQ Trucks, Inc.
  • Game On® BBQ Restaurants, LLC
  • Wingless® BBQ Restaurants, LLC
  • Jessica Thomas™ BBQ Restaurants, LLC
  • Beef Gang© BBQ Restaurants, Inc.
  • Cock Crow® BBQ Truck, Inc.
  • Cynthia Signature™ BBQ Restaurants, Inc.
  • Tony Martins™ BBQ Truck, Inc.
  • Dallas County© BBQ Restaurants, Inc.
  • Tuckey House® BBQ Restaurants, LLC
  • Right Place™ BBQ Restaurants, Inc.
  1. Register Your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for BBQ Business?

When it comes to starting a BBQ business, you have several options when it comes to the business structure, but the one that most players in this line of business consider is an LLC. It is common to consider an LLC because providers want to protect themselves from lawsuits. Please note that an LLC will need an EIN if it has employees or if it will be required to file any of the excise tax forms listed below.

b. Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open a BBQ Business?
  • General Business License
  • Health and Safety Permit
  • Food and Drinks Handlers’ License
  • Zonal Permits
  • Signage Permit
  • Operational State Facility Inspections
  • A live entertainment license if you want to provide entertainment like live musicians or offer dancing or karaoke.
  • A music license if you want to play recorded, or stream music in your restaurant
  • A dumpster placement permit that specifies where you can put your dumpster outside your restaurant
  • A valet parking permit if you plan to offer valet parking for customers
  • Sidewalk permits if you plan to offer outside seating
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Open a BBQ Business?

You don’t need any certifications to open a BBQ business.

e. What Documents are Needed to Open a BBQ Business?
  • DBA
  • EIN
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • State Permit and Building Approval
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document
  • Contract Document
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

If you are considering opening a BBQ business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection or trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

  1. Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start a BBQ Business?

A sit-down BBQ typically costs between $100,000 and $350,000 to set up. A large drive-through BBQ stand or BBQ truck can cost between $80,000 and $200,000. A small BBQ stand or cart may cost between $5,000 and $50,000. A franchised sit-down BBQ restaurant business can cost up to $350,000.

b. What are the Costs Involved in Starting a BBQ Business
  • Business Registration Fees – $750.
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits – $1,300.
  • Marketing, Branding and Promotions – $1,000.
  • Business Consultant Fee – $2,500.
  • Insurance – $1,400.
  • Rent/Lease – $75,000.
  • Other start-up expenses like phone and utility deposits ($1,800).
  • Operational Cost (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al) – $30,000
  • Start-up Inventory – $15,000
  • Store Equipment (cash register, security, ventilation, signage) – $1,750
  • Carts – $20,000
  • Website: $600
  • Opening party: $3,000
  • Miscellaneous: $2,000
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening a BBQ Business?
  • The niche and size of the BBQ business
  • The choice of location
  • The required licenses and permits
  • The type of facility
  • The type of related products retailed in the restaurant
  • The cost for branding, promotion, and marketing of the BBQ business
  • The cost for furnishing and equipping the BBQ facility
  • The cost of insurance
  • The cost for registering the business
  • Source of your supplies and ongoing expenses
  • Cost of recruiting and training your staff
  • The cost for the purchase and customizing of uniforms
  • The cost for the grand opening of the BBQ business
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility? If YES, How Much Will It Cost?

It is not compulsory to build a new facility for your BBQ restaurant business, but,\ if you have the required finance, it will pay you to build your own facility. The truth is that building or reconstructing a facility will help you come up with a facility that will perfectly fit into your overall business goals and vision.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses of a BBQ Business?
  • Supplies (inventory expenses)
  • Utility bills (internet subscriptions, phone bills, signage and software renewal fees et al)
  • Salaries of employees
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Shop Manager (Owner) – $45,000 Per Year
  • Accountant (Cashier) – $30,630,000 Per Year
  • BBQ Caterers (Chefs or Pitmasters) – $27,100 Per Year
  • Attendants – $25,000 Per Year
  • Cleaners -$24,000 Per Year
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start a BBQ Business?
  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Grilled Delight® BBQ Restaurants, Inc. is a neighborhood BBQ restaurant that will be located in a fast-growing community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have been able to secure a two-year lease agreement for a vacant restaurant facility within the city’s largest shopping mall. We are fortunate to secure a facility with an option of renewal for 5 years at an agreed rate that is favorable to us.

b. Products and Service
  • Barbequed beef, chicken, chicken wings, turkey, bacon, pork, fish, corn, et al.
  • Beverages and bottled water.
c. Mission Statement

Our mission is to establish a standard BBQ restaurant brand that will favorably compete with leaders in the industry. We want to build a business that will be listed amongst the top 20 BBQ restaurant brands in the United States of America.

Vision Statement

Our vision is to build a BBQ restaurant business with franchises all across the United States of America and Canada.

d. Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives of a BBQ business are to sell grilled foods to patrons.

e. Organizational Structure
  • Shop Manager (Owner)
  • Accountant
  • BBQ Caterers (Chefs or Pitmasters)
  • Attendants
  • Cleaners

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
  • Ideal location for a BBQ restaurant business
  • Highly experienced and qualified employees and management
  • Access to finance from business partners
  • Access to ingredients and supplies
  • Unique grilled food recipes
  • A reliable, clean, healthy, and efficient method of grilling food.
  • Financial constraints may restrict the publicity and branding of the business
  • Our new business will be competing with well-established BBQ restaurants and franchises in the city.
  • Inability to retain our highly experienced employees longer than we want during the teething stage of the business.
  • A rise in the number of grilled food lovers within our market space
  • Online market, new services, new technology, and of course the opening of new markets.
  • The arrival of a new BBQ business within our market space
  • A rise in the population of vegetarians within our market space
  • Steady wage expenses
  • Economic uncertainty
  • Liability problems
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could change its regulatory status and decide to enforce strict regulations that can strangulate new businesses like ours.
b. How Do BBQs Make Money?

BBQs make money by selling the following products;

  • Barbequed beef, chicken, chicken wings, turkey, bacon, pork, fish, corn, et al.
  • Beverages and bottled water
  • Franchise
c. Payment Options
  • Payment with cash
  • Payment via credit cards
  • Payment via online bank transfer
  • Payment via mobile money transfer
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Introduce your BBQ business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to party planners, households, and other key stakeholders throughout the city where your BBQ business is located.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your products.
  • Join local BBQ business owner associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise our business in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for your Product/Service?

On average, full racks of ribs sell for between $15 and $20. So also, the amount you should charge will depend on the style. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person.

b. How Much Profit Do BBQ Business Owners Make a Year?

It depends, but the available report shows that on average, a small to medium-sized BBQ business can earn anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000 in a year for the business owner.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • The capacity of the BBQ business
  • The types of related products retailed in the shop
  • The location the BBQ business is covering
  • The management style of the BBQ business
  • The business approach of the BBQ business
  • The advertising and marketing strategies adopted by the BBQ business.
  • The number of years the BBQ business is in business
d. What is the Profit Margin of a BBQ Business?

The profit margin for a BBQ business to a large extent will depend on some factors, but on average, a good profit margin should range from 15 percent to over 25 percent.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?

Below is the sales forecast for a BBQ restaurant. It is based on the location of the business and other factors as it relates to such startups in the United States;

  • First Fiscal Year: $340,000
  • Second Fiscal Year: $600,000
  • Third Fiscal Year: $900,000
  1. Set Up your Shop/Office

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for BBQ Business?
  • The demography of the location as it relates to people that eat grilled food regularly
  • The demand for grilled food in the location
  • The purchasing power of residents of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of BBQ businesses, and restaurants that sell grilled food in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al
b. What State and City are Best to Open a BBQ Business?
  • Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Piedmont, South Dakota
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Sturbridge, Massachusetts
  • Franklin, Tennessee
  • Overland Park, Kansas
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Lockhart, Texas
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Ayden, North Carolina.
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate a BBQ Business?
  • Smokers
  • Outdoor Grills
  • Convection Ovens
  • Steamer
  • Deep Fryers
  • Storage
  • Serving Utensils
  • Tables & Chairs.
  1. Hire Employees

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard BBQ, you should make plans to hire a competent restaurant manager (you can occupy this position), account clerk (cashier), BBQ caterers (chef or Pitmasters), attendants, and cleaners.

  1. Launch the Business Proper

In recent times, no BBQ business opens its door for business without first organizing an opening party to officially launch the business. You can choose to do a soft opening if you are operating on a low budget or you can go for a grand opening party. The bottom line is that with a proper launching of the BBQ business, you will officially inform people in your city that your BBQ business is open for business.

a. What Makes a BBQ Business Successful?
  • Choose a good location and shop facility to launch the business
  • Make sure you grill different foods (give your customers options)
  • Throw a grand party before officially opening the BBQ business
  • Be deliberate with your marketing sales approach
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth to promote your BBQ business
  • Leverage on all available online and offline platforms to promote your BBQ business
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a BBQ Restaurant?
  • The restaurant is open for the day’s work
  • Supplies and ingredients are ordered
  • The serving areas, chairs, and tables are properly arranged
  • Walk-in customers are attended to
  • Deliveries of orders are made
  • Stocks are taken and reports are written and submitted to superior officers
  • The business is closed for the day.
c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build a BBQ Business?
  • Excellent culinary skills
  • Excellent customer services skills
  • Interpersonal skill
  • Accounting and bookkeeping skills
  • Business management skills
  • Bargaining skill
  • Work experience in a restaurant environment
  • Experience in managing people
  • Experience in business administration
  • Experience in handling different types of BBQ grilling equipment.