How to Start a Barbecue Business

Barbecuing could be considered one of America’s great pastimes. Everyone knows how to barbecue to an extent. Some have worked and worked on their recipes and methods until they have perfected the art. It would be a shame to not share that with the rest of the world, so it makes sense to start a barbecue business. However, just a little skill and some great briquettes don’t ensure a successful barbecue business. You must be organized, have a plan, market your business and enjoy what you’re doing.

Visualize what you want your business to be. If your specialty is ribs, then you shouldn’t think you’re going to offer a full menu ranging from pork chops to salmon. Stick with what you’re good at. If you see your business as a nice, sit-down restaurant, then serving your meals in baskets won’t be a good choice. Think through your expectations for your business down to the last detail. This will help you determine what’s practical in the beginning and what isn’t.

Create a business plan for your barbecue business. Utilize the assistance offered from your local Small Business Administration representatives. They can help you write a successful plan, obtain financing and avoid any common pitfalls.

Select a location with plenty of traffic that suits many of the needs for your facility. If it already has a turn-key kitchen, that makes it even better! If you want a place with room for a dining room, be sure the square footage is enough. If you own property, it could be wise to build your own building. However, running water and electricity to it can be costly, if they aren’t currently on the property. Check with your city and county officials to ensure that your location is zoned properly for your business.

Perfect your recipe and methods. Continue to practice your skills until your food comes out perfect each and every time.

Create your kitchen. Purchase any additional appliances, ovens, grills or other necessities before you open. However, be reasonable. As you’re first opening up, it doesn’t make sense to buy the most expensive items you have before you’re even creating any income. Also, purchase all spices, meats, sides and cooking utensils you’ll need right before you open your doors.

Design your menu and marketing materials with the theme of your business in mind. Distribute these freely to businesses, area residents and tourists. Take every opportunity for free advertising possible. Enter every parade your community has. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and do a ribbon cutting. Bring as much exposure to your business as possible.

Adhere to all health codes for your city and state. You don’t want to be shut down by a health inspector because you didn’t know the rules.

Decorate your new business. If your dining room needs new seating and tables, purchase them. Or make use of the current ones. Add personal touches to the décor, such as family pictures, sports memorabilia, country accents or art prints that give the place the atmosphere you want.

Keep track of all paperwork, purchases, sales and legal documents. Balance your books regularly, and deposit money daily.


  • Check with your city and county officials for any other legal matters that need taken care of. Purchase insurance for your business.